What I love the most about music is sharing the passion with my band. The synergy created in a band gives you a completely different experience from playing alone. I feel much more motivated in writing, sharing, and creating a song together out of everyone’s ideas.
My name is Andrea Toscano, I’m an Italian guy working in a digital world, but I am powered by an analog passion. I work as a Software Engineer at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, in the Autonomous Driving field.
I was inspired to choose my job at the beginning of my university studies – I was amazed at what digital systems could achieve in the music world. My big dream was to be able to program digital guitar pedal effects and discover new sounds (which I actually did as a personal project). Throughout the university period, I was marvelled by the image processing and computer vision, and I dug deeper into the topic. With the skills I gained academically, I have been able to undertake many interesting projects at many different workplaces.
I’ve been living in Munich for more than a year. My hometown is Milan – born and raised there. For my jobs, I also lived in Florence, Turin, and Frankfurt. With Munich, I wanted to have the possibility of participating in a massive product development, embracing novel agile methodologies, and collaborating with another prestigious car manufacturer such as BMW.
Outside of my job, I love music. I’ve always been encouraged by my parents to try different musical instruments. It was my mother who suggested that I take free guitar classes in a local community centre. I immediately fell in love with it and never stopped playing it. During high school, I founded (with some of my classmates) the first and only band I’ve been in. We shared the same music taste and, after a year of practicing the classic rock tunes, we decided to write our own music. In the meantime, my brother joined the band, giving it a new voice and sound thanks to the saxophone. Writing music has been my favourite passion for a long period; music was just flowing in my head – I just had to record it and suggest my ideas to the band so that we could all work on it together.
As regards music inspirations, I probably fell in love 3 times in my life:
- The first was The Beatles, and I’ve been listening since I was 11. They can never tire me – every time I listen to them, I always discover something new; I really think they invented modern music.
- The second was Pink Floyd– it was thanks to them that my passion for the electric guitar was born.
- Last but not least is Django Reinhardt, the Belgian-French gypsy musician – despite missing two fingers in his left hand, he created a new kind of music, so elegant and so innovative for his time.
I’m also influenced by classic rock: ’60s, ’70s, funk, blues, jazz, and classical music (thanks to my parents). The Eagles, Chopin, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Mozart also played an important role in my musical development.
I started playing guitar at the age of 13, with the suggestion of my mother to try it out in a local community centre in our neighbourhood. My favourite genre to write music and play guitar to is rock/pop; it’s the kind of music that feels closer to me. But I also write some acoustic songs.
When I’m writing music, it’s more natural for me to start from a riff or melody. I then create the harmony, and finally the lyrics. With my band in Milan, it was nice to complement each of our skills. Other members of the band were really great at starting from lyrics, for instance. This helped a lot in having a much wider variety in our compositions.
My favourite experience playing music in a band was when we won the MeetMeTonight 2013 (Italian universities contest). At that time, the band was almost over and we missed some steady members of the group. We played on the stage quite unprepared, having just rehearsed the day before with some previous members of the band alongside new ones. Despite the lack of preparation, we played with unexpected confidence, passion, and energy – ultimately, we were awarded the 1st prize.
I have a few future goals with my music. During my musical journey, I love pubs that promote “jam sessions” – events where musicians can go up on the stage and play together without previous preparation, just improvising together. This requires having great skills at listening carefully to what the others are playing, so that you can adapt the rhythm, style, and volume. I enjoy jam sessions as a nice way to play with many different musicians during the same evening. My desire in the near future would be to play and sing with my girlfriend at an “Open Mic” night in one of the live Irish pubs in Munich, as a way to share our common passion for music.
My advice to any aspiring musicians is to just do it! There are no rules! Do what you’d like to do with the people you like. Respect the ideas of others and learn how to improve yourself. From a more practical point of view, remember to record yourself while you play (with your PC/phone). You’d be amazed at listening to how you sound like – recording is one of the best methods to improve yourself. It’s also important to understand that any valuable achievement can be reached with constant effort. Like studying for exams at the university, getting better at playing guitar is a matter of dedication.
For aspiring musicians living in Munich, there is a wide community for all kinds of music. Before the Coronavirus lockdown, I explored all the live music pubs. Some of them are slowly reopening, but it will take time until all of them will be fully operative. The musical community in Munich has really helped me to meet local people and spend a nice evening outside with friends.
I think there are common aspects between writing/playing music in a band and working as a software engineer in a team. Both require “collaboration skills”. One should listen, learn, adapt, suggest, and discuss, as well as not cause a bad mood in the team. This latter can drastically influence drastically the performance and creativity of the group. In both a band and a team, there’s something to create and the synergy within the group plays an extremely important role.
There is always more than tech. I think that’s very important to break the idea that people working in the tech domain are focused on tech in both their private and professional life. Many of my colleagues have lots of passions that range from painting to music, from climbing to paragliding. A common trait amongst technologists is curiosity, which definitely leads to great hobbies and passions. The more you discover, the more you have a wider view of the world.
To visit Andrea’s website and Spotify profile, be sure to check the following links: