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!
Over the course of this series, we’ve presented readers with the numerous ways music has played a role in the lives of our employees — both at work and away from it. To conclude our series, we’re highlighting musician and Racker Jim Frontz, whose original music serves as the soundtrack for his video profile.
Better known by his stage name Taxxess, Jim eschews musical labels but identifies most closely as an artist who creates industrial dance music, an alternative form of electronic dance music.
“I’m not a fan of the label, but it’s not exactly something I get to choose,” Jim said. “You don’t get to choose what to call yourself and what people categorize you as musically. I kind of go outside the boundaries of the genres and kind of move between them.”
To help create his unique sound, Jim uses a lot of synthesis, including modular synthesis. when he’s producing a track, he works primarily in Ableton, a software music sequencer and digital audio workstation preferred by many musicians. He believes the process of making the music is more of what creates the sound, rather than anything he wants it to be.
“I try to keep it as unrestrained as possible,” Jim said. “Everything is done on an avant-garde level and I’m trying to push boundaries in myself. I’m trying to work with things that I don’t necessarily know how to work with. And I’m trying to build things over a process rather than knowing what my end goal is.”
One of the key instruments Jim uses to create his sound is a MIDI synthesizer, which can often present unique troubleshooting problems. Jim said that 90 percent of the time, when he runs into an issue with a MIDI, he won’t have the needed background to know how to solve it right away. Instead, he said, he has to be thoughtful and troubleshoot the issue.
“MIDI was created in the early 80s,” Jim said. “A lot of MIDI troubleshooting is unplugging cables and plugging them back in and trying to figure out what is going on. There is a lot of patience involved.”
As a support technician at Rackspace, Jim leans on that virtue often. In his work life, he has to quickly troubleshoot customer issues and identify parties that are best suited to resolve a particular problem. Jim also says his willingness to learn from others is another trait he’s taken away from his musical endeavors to be successful.
“As a musician, learning to work with other people while you’re creating music is one of the most important things you could possibly have as a skill,” Jim said. “Applying it here is definitely important.”
Jim’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 Jim’s answers and his specialized playlist.
Over the ear headphones or ear buds? Over the ear
Spotify, Google Play or Pandora? Google Play
Beatles or Rolling Stones? Neither
Biggie or Tupac? Both
Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong? Miles Davis
Waylon Jennings or Johnny Cash? Both
Deadmau5 or Danger Mouse? Danger Mouse
Song that is stuck in your head? Good Vibrations
Best concert you’ve ever attended? Aphex Twin, because I idolize that man. It was one of the greatest nights I’ve ever had in my life. I was at the Day for Night festival a few months ago in Houston and it was the first time he had performed in the United States in almost ten years. He decided to play in Houston and I’d been listening to him since I was like 11. So, yeah, it was kind of a big deal. He was kind of my hero for a long time.
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.