What is your background?

I studied Computational Visualistics and could then decide to specialize in computer vision techniques or computer graphics, focusing on non-photorealistic rendering (NPR). Non-photorealistic rendering is the process of creating artistic images based on 3D objects or 2D images. For example, anything you find in Adobe’s filter menu is an example for NPR processes. I wanted to pursue these topics in my doctoral thesis, but I changed tracks slightly and developed a serious game. I dealt with several questions such as how to better connect students, teachers and learning materials in this context of digital game based learning environments.

Since I have always been personally involved with music, I wanted to change my subject after my doctorate, from computer graphics to music development. So, I applied for a job at Native Instruments and they said yes, come and join us. I started out as a software and application developer and worked there for about 5 years.

What exactly was it that brought you to music technology?

When I was 4 years old I saw a movie with Elvis Presley on TV and wanted to be a rock star since. I never succeeded (laughing), but I wanted to play guitar and I did. Since then I’ve been playing guitar and making music. At some point I started writing songs. So basically one of my main interests always related to music and the other to graphics. I started to make graphics part of my profession because I really wanted to keep the music as a form of self-expression and not put it under any kind of academic or professional restriction. Yet after my time at the university, I figured that I had to find a way to combine both. Now I have actually arrived at this point to perfectly combine both worlds.

Angela Brennecke during the interview. Photo by Anna Xambó.
Angela Brennecke during the interview. Photo by Anna Xambó.

What is your experience being a woman in the music technology field?

Since my background is rather not purely music tech, maybe I can pass on my experiences as a woman in technology in general. For example, when I started out as a software developer at Native Instruments, I was the first female software developer. Just like during my time at university, the number of women in this field of profession was not as big as the number of men, at least in those days. This was not a bad experience, I was very welcome. What I experienced as challenging, however, is that due to this disbalance, there’s an established way of solving problems and thinking about problems and solutions. This can be difficult once you have another approach, another understanding. Generally, my experience is simply that men and women have different approaches to problem solving and once you start growing into a more balanced team, it is easier to appreciate different approaches. It’s about changing how you think about things that is getting easier when there’s a diverse group of people.

Do you have an example?

Well, when I threw myself into that computer science stuff, it wasn’t easy at all and I often felt I personally did not understand it right. Only over the years did it become clear to me that in the end it was much about problem solving approaches. When five people say “something is just like that”, and one person says, “I think about it differently”, then it’s much harder to accept that it might just be a different approach or perspective rather than thinking that something is wrong with the way you understand something.

What advice would you give to women who want to pursue a career in music technology?

Just go ahead, just do it!

Elvis Presley was one of your role models, who else?

As far as guitar playing is concerned, Slash has always been one of my favourite players. In music I definitely have a certain number of influences. But in terms of my career I am lucky to have had support in every step of my development by family and friends but I did not have a role model.

Do you have anything to add?

I’m fine, it was nice to be here. And yes, it has always been nice to work both with men and women!