Music Behind the Tech: Daniel Clayton

Music and tech make a perfect pair — coding, troubleshooting and focusing on projects are often accompanied by a soundtrack for many in the IT industry. Whether it’s getting into that “flow state” or simply dialing in on a complex problem, listening to music seems to be the method of choice for IT employees looking to unlock creativity.

In this series, called Music Behind the Tech, we’ll help you get to know Rackspace employees, their stories and the relationship between the music they love and their work. We’ve even embedded their playlists at the bottom of each post. Rock on!

Music is often used as an escape from high-stress situations. That’s how Rackspace Managed Security Director of Operations Daniel Clayton has used it throughout his life.

Originally from East London, Daniel joined the British military as a member of the Royal Corps of Signals when he was 16 years old. While serving in faraway places such as Afghanistan or the Balkans, Daniel would turn to music as a way to escape tense situations.

“You could put your headphones on and you could be anywhere if you closed your eyes,” Daniel said. “It was a way to get back home.”

After serving for 23 years, Daniel retired from the military and moved to Texas in 2013. He began working at Rackspace on the Managed Security team after seeing many businesses express the need for better security solutions.

“Companies are much more aware of security now,” Daniel told us. “In the past, it was kind of a ‘bolt on’ at the end. Now security is so important, it’s in the news so often, that it really is a risk-management proposition that should be involved all the way through the business decision-making process.”

Today, our security operations center is filled with analysts that protect many of our Rackspace customers with solutions for both perimeter security and advanced persistent threats. Through his experience in the military, Daniel knows the importance of stress-testing to see how individuals will react in difficult situations. This has led him and his team to create a simulated cybersecurity event that tests these very outcomes.

“We have a big three to five day, fully live, simulated war game,” Daniel said. “We’ll keep everybody up for a long time and see how they perform.”

This way, when bad things happen, Daniel explained, these team members have already experienced it.

“They already know what they’ve got to do and how they’ve got to react,” he said.

See Daniel talk about our war games from this Rackspace::Solve session.

While it’s important to stress-test, it’s also important to get away from the pressure of a 24×7 job. Music is there for Daniel today in the same way it was while he was in the military. His commute from San Antonio to his home in the Hill Country is an important time for him to use music as a calming force, filtering out the day’s events and preparing him to be with his family.

While he cites Prince as his favorite musician, Daniel is a little biased towards those bands who come from his native country. He told us that even though he’s been in the U.S. for quite a while, the majority of the artists on his playlist are British.

“It’s what I’m used to and what I grew up with,” Daniel told us. “But the facetious answer is that clearly Brits are better at music than Americans. You had a couple of flukes with Prince and Michael Jackson.”

Daniel’s Liner Notes

We end each of these profiles with some musical questions so you can get to know the Rackers a little bit better — here are Daniel’s answers and his specialized playlist.

Over the ear headphones or earbuds? Earbuds

Spotify, Google Play or Pandora? Pandora

Beatles or Rolling Stones? Oof. I like them both. Beatles

Biggie or Tupac? Biggie

Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong? Oh, Louis Armstrong 

Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings? Oh my goodness… Johnny Cash.

Deadmau5 or Danger Mouse? Danger Mouse 

Song that’s stuck in your head? Tennessee Whiskey 

Best concert you’ve ever attended? That would be Prince Lovesexy at London Arena back in the early 90s. Prince is just the complete performer. He plays, he dances and you couldn’t stop looking at him when he’s on stage.

Stay tuned for our next Music Behind the Tech profile and visit Rackspace to find out more about our experts and the ways they’re helping customers tackle their toughest IT challenges. And whether you like smooth jazz or hard rock, if you’re looking to start your own career at Rackspace, be sure to apply online today.

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