Ten years working with Brian Eno


Ten years ago today, I headed into London to start a new job assisting Brian Eno on the generative score to the highly anticipated Spore computer game. That was all I was originally contracted for, but I ended up staying around, ostensibly to look after his computers. That alone kept me busy ; technology seems to stop behaving in his presence.

That job has repeatedly morphed, yielding a number of bizarre job titles: “Digital Archeologist” on his 2008 collaboration with David Byrne for a start, followed by “Sonic Archivist” for his collaborations with Leo Abrahams and Jon Hopkins. We settled on “Musical assistant to Brian Eno” for the closing credits to The Lovely Bones. The proposed credit had simply been “Assistant to Brian Eno”, which Brian vetoed as it sounded like I cut his hair, “which wouldn’t be challenging.”

After completing Spore, it seemed obvious that there was much, much more that we could do with generative music. We created a prototype of Bloom, running in Flash using a Wacom tablet. This was actually before the iPhone was even announced, and it sat quietly in limbo for a year and half, until Apple kindly set up the App Store for it. We followed Bloom a year later with Trope, then Bloom HD for the iPad and Scape in 2013.

In 2009, Brian asked me to help out with the Pure Scenius concerts at Sydney Opera House, which featured Leo and Jon, Australian band The Necks, and Underworld vocalist Karl Hyde. Karl and I became good friends ; four years later I joined him as keyboardist and musical director for his first solo tour and was thrilled to return to Opera House, this time to play.

As time has gone on I’ve become more involved with the musical and audio side of his albums, creating an instrumental edit of Drums Between the Bells (with Rick Holland) and engineering High Life, his second collaboration with Karl Hyde.

Most recently I accrued a job title I hadn’t expected: Assistant Producer on The Ship, an album I loved working on and also contributed keyboards to. Personal bias aside, I think it’s one of the most extraordinary albums I’ve heard.

After ten years, seeing behind the curtain hasn’t dimmed my admiration. I’ve learnt a huge amount through working, and particularly enjoy the moments where I can uncover some new corner of music technology and see how he’ll apply it. Or, more usually, break it. I feel incredibly privileged to have landed a job I enjoy so much.

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