There’s a TED Talk by actor Ethan Hawke where he explains that in certain seasons of life, when things don’t turn out the way you’d like, then “art isn’t a luxury, it’s actually sustenance.” That’s what intoxicates me the most about Music, when it becomes a part of you that you can’t be without. And good music is often like that — being able to play and perform it adds the dimension of expressing a part of yourself within that music.

My name is Victor Bodell, and I work as a Product Owner/Cloud Engineer for SEB in Stockholm, Sweden. I also run my own solopreneur business, through which I spend time as a freelance pianist/singer.

I’ve always enjoyed studying, specifically the science subjects, so engineering was a clear choice, although I wasn’t really sure what type of engineer I wanted to be. I pretty much ended up in computer science by process of elimination, but I loved programming and creative technology from Day 1.

I currently live in Stockholm, but I’ve always lived in Sweden (aside from roughly 2 years abroad in various contexts). I decided to move back here across the country roughly 10 years ago to attend a music college for two years. I stayed for the beauty of the city.

Outside of work, I love Music. I first became interested in music when I was 8 years old, and my family visited my cousins in the United States. I believe I had to write an email to my school, so I ended up on my cousin’s computer. For some reason, the desktop had an mp3 file on it. That was the song Africa by Toto. The song simply resonated with me, and I remember playing it over and over on that computer for hours. Before then, I would listen to records of very varying qualities, but from that moment on, I was sold on (subjectively) “good” music.

There are so many different musicians that I admire and enjoy for different qualities. It ranges from the quiet Scandinavian sound of late piano player Jan Johansson to the mind-blowing music by bassist & bandleader Michael League. I love other artists like Sting or John Mayer (who constantly reinvent themselves) and the insanely complex compositions from wonder-child Jacob Collier. I’ve also had a couple of piano teachers that I absolutely adore for their musicality and their humanity.

As a piano player, jazz has always been a steady companion, but I very much enjoy the modern synth-inspired music that has come about from artists such as Charlie Puth, Laura Mvula, and even John Mayer. The ‘80s sound will always strike a chord with me. As a singer, I have a lot of concerts in gospel music, but I enjoy playing any music that is well-written and creative.

As part of Bodell Musik (my freelance musician business), I’ve done numerous company events, weddings, and concerts as an accompanying pianist. I’ve been the bandmaster for several large crowd (500-3000 people) events, coordinating musicians, material, arrangements, and logistics. I have also performed in choirs supporting famous Swedish artists such as Carola, Uno Svenningson, and Louise Hofsten.

I have had many memorable experiences with my music — there’s something inexplicable when the wires connect. It’s hard to orchestrate, but those moments are when the musicians, singers, and the crowd become a part of something that feels totally unique and in-the-moment. That’s unmatchable, something you can’t capture on a camera or in a recording.

I think most people have felt this at a concert, but being able to play your heart out at that moment beats most other sensations in the world. I have particularly strong memories of doing this in a large tent with ~3000 people for several nights during the summer of 2017. I had the same experience on a sunny August morning when one of my best friends got married. In those moments, the music conveys more than words can say.

In the future, I will keep my music alive so that I can continue to capture something unique, conveying something beautiful about the situation our lives are in, and speaking truth into a world that sometimes drowns in the noise of the current information flow. I don’t have any ambition to be on the fanciest stages, nor to sing with the best artists. I think just as much impact can be made when reaching a small, select community with the music I’ve created in my homely living room.

I definitely believe that my experiences with Music and Tech benefit each other. There are a lot of connections in devoting yourself to different art forms. Whether it’s programming or composition, it’s about finding delicate solutions and incisions into complex problems and larger contexts. I also believe that my experiences in band rehearsals and as a bandmaster have given me the possibility to focus clearly on what should be the agenda (and sticking to it) in a given tech meeting. I used to believe that musicians were lax and unstructured compared to the tech industry. I’ve come to see that there’s a lot more improvement potential in tech collaborations of different kinds. Everyone can learn from the rigorousness and “constant delivery” attitude of a musician in a live concert.

My advice to anyone interested in being a freelance musician is to keep practicing your instrument, work on your personal expression, and network, network, network. Connecting with people is the key in the freelance industry, and if you don’t delight in the company of musicians, no amount of instrument practice will make it so.

Finally, I think it’s important to recognize that we as humans are not one thing. In our everyday work lives, we only see parts of what makes someone a human. Highlighting the complex and holistic nature of creative and musical technologists helps us understand that we are more than what we see in each others’ careers. It helps us understand that even if someone isn’t necessarily practicing an art form alongside their technology, there’s more to the people you see every day than meets the eye.

Tech is just one of the expressions we have to connect, and we need all the help we can get to see that our lives are always more than tech.

Spotify Page for Victor’s Band, JeremiaSpotify – Jeremia

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