Julián Mateu, Software Engineer, Musician & Music Composer

What I love the most about Piano and Guitar is that they are both very versatile instruments — they have endless possibilities in the types of sounds they can make, and they’re fit for almost any style. So no matter how long you’ve been playing them, there’s always something new waiting to be discovered.

My name is Julián Mateu, I’m 29-years-old, and I’m a Software Engineer working at Globality — our goal is to improve the future of the procurement business by using Artificial Intelligence (AI). I’m currently in a team of Backend Engineers that is building an Event-Driven Architecture for exposing data from the platform directly to the AI teams.

I have a great passion for learning and creating new things. I’m always trying to solve hard problems and think of new solutions. I actually studied Electronic Engineering, but gravitated towards Software even before graduating, working first in Robotics, then Computer Vision, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), and finally ended up doing mostly Backend, specializing in Distributed Systems.

I’m originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I went to University and started working for a Robotics start-up called Ekumen, which had projects with Google, working with VR/AR. This enabled me to travel a couple of times per year to Google’s HQ at Mountain View, California (USA), during the ~4 years I spent working on that project. I was considering relocating to the USA, when I got a job offer from Amazon to move to London, UK. So, even though I had never travelled to Europe before, in 2019, I accepted that offer and moved to England, just before COVID began.

Outside of work, I love Music, and always had something to do with it — playing Piano or Guitar, trying to learn a new instrument without much success (Bass, Drums, Violin), writing songs, playing with a band, or more recently, studying Orchestration and Composition for cinematic music.

I started playing Guitar when I was 10-years-old and played mostly classical music for some years. Around the time I was 15, I started playing rock music in a band. I’ve played in different bands since then, from heavy metal to funk. I had played a little bit of Piano here and there during that time, and when I finished high school, I started studying classical piano in the Conservatory, playing Chopin and Beethoven, who are among my favourite composers ever.

I’ve been heavily influenced by classical music; I started playing Piano because of Chopin and Beethoven, but I’ve also been obsessed with Rachmaninoff for many years, as I think his music is amazing — he manages to write beautiful music that is technically complex but also easy to listen to. I enjoy other styles too, and I love the music of Oscar Peterson, Rick Wakeman, or Phillip Glass.

For Guitar, I’ve always loved Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, and Jimmy Page, but again, I also enjoy listening to great musicians in different styles, like Paco de Lucía, Stevie Ray Vaughan, or John Petrucci.

I was always interested in Composing Music — I’ve liked listening to music since I was a toddler, and always imagined music in my head. When I started playing instruments, it was natural to start creating my own music, but at the same time, I’ve always looked up to great composers and musicians, so I developed a sort of Imposter Syndrome when comparing my work to theirs.

I use a variety of different instruments and software for my music composing. I have several guitars (electric, acoustic with nylon and steel strings, 12 strings), a bass, and a digital piano, which can be connected to my computer and sounds almost like anything you can imagine by using virtual instruments and synths. I use Reaper as my main DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), as it can be really customized and programmed to meet my needs. I also have been acquiring audio plug-ins and a lot of orchestral libraries, which are useful for writing cinematic music when you don’t have access to a real orchestra.

Composing music is an awesome process — it has a lot of a craft, but is also an art in itself. Each piece is something new, with its own challenges and emotions, and they allow you to express yourself in ways that are not possible in any other way.

I have had many great experiences when playing and creating music. I’ve always enjoyed playing in public, either with my bands or playing piano at concerts in the Conservatory. It’s a great feeling when you’re connected with the audience, and you can feel them listening and enjoying the music, the same feeling that you enjoy while playing it.

Finally, in the future, I want to become better at composing for Films and TV. I see myself having a side hustle in that industry, and I’d like my music to eventually make it to the big screen.

I definitely think my experiences with Music have been a benefit to my technological career, and vice versa. There’s a very interesting interplay between the “creative” and the “analytical” parts of the brain in both Music and Engineering, so they certainly complement each other. Being very methodical when studying Maths and Science helped me tackle some challenges in Music with a very systematic approach (e.g. analysing a piece theoretically, or practising technical passages with the metronome until they become second nature).

At the same time, I learned a lot about teamwork and long-term planning as a teenager, while dealing with other musicians in a band, playing in public, and having to go through many years of study and practise in order to be able to play something I liked. There’s also room for being creative and even artistic in Software too.

My advice to anyone interested in playing music is that each person will make their own journey, so don’t think your experience needs to be the same as someone else’s, and don’t be afraid of doing things your own way. Try to understand what motivates you, and use that to leverage whenever there is an obstacle. The key is to always enjoy the process and have fun — after all, we “play” Music. But it’s also a learning experience that takes a lot of time to develop, so be patient and always look for the way in which you can make the practise and repetition more enjoyable, and you’ll naturally become better. For example, if you’re motivated by playing with others but you’re struggling with improvising, just find people to play with and improvise, and you’ll get better at it.

Finally, I’d just like to say that there is always more than tech. Technology is mostly a tool. Even though for some of us it is sometimes an end in itself, throughout human history it has been used as a means to improve our experience in many ways, making us more efficient and capable of things we never imagined before. I think that all technologists end up falling in love with tech because of all the new possibilities that it brings, but then we become obsessed with the details (because that’s where the fun is) and we end up forgetting that initial feeling.

For me, seeing how Music was shaped by technology during the last century is inspiring both as a Musician and an Engineer, and that artistic view helps me to think about how the tech I’m building is shaping the world of tomorrow.

Julián’s Website: https://www.jmateu.co.uk/

Julián’s SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/julianmateu

Julián’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mateu.julian/

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