Want my job? with Frazer Merrick, sound artist

"As an artist, a great portfolio is just as important (if not more) than any qualification."

Want my job? with Frazer Merrick, sound artist

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

I’m an artist who loves sound, playing with technology and combining both those things.

I understand you’re an incredibly busy person. Give us the typical outline of a day?

I have a number of jobs; working for a digital arts charity, running my own music charity and as an independent artist. I rarely have two days the same. 

What’s great about your jobs?

I get to play for work! Making video games, recording music and meeting talented and creative young artists. 

What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?

Having multiple jobs means I have to be very good at organising my time and making sure I don’t double book myself. It can also be easy to do too much and prioritise work over my own wellbeing. Learning to say no has taken me a long time!

With juggling so many different roles, how do you stay organised?

My calendar is a kaleidoscope of colours, without it I’d never be in the right place at the right time. That and lots of to-do lists.

What are some of the transferable skills between your different roles?

Communication skills are really important, whether I’m teaching a class of students or speaking at a conference. I always try to be friendly, approachable and make sure I’m always listening.

What are the highlights of your career to date?

During my degree I interned for composer Nitin Sawhney and my first job was working on his music for BBC One’s Human Planet flagship nature documentary series, so I was really thrown straight in at the deep end! 

In 2018 I played a gig literally in the sea with my music group CLIP, we learnt Terry Riley’s “In C” and then waded waist height into the actual sea in Great Yarmouth to perform! 10b1298cd761103c82dc4aa2a5c15e15d59ccfdc.jpg

More recently I made my first radio show, a 10min documentary about Walton-on-the-Naze pier and its arcades, recording the sounds of the people, places and even the machines. One bloke told me how he used to hide inside the ghost ride and jump out at people!

What was your career path into the various jobs?  Have you also worked outside the arts?

I’m always trying to balance the things I want to do (e.g. make music all the time) with the things I need to do (e.g. pay rent) – so my goal has always been to find new ways of making a living from the things I enjoy doing. Straight out of university I got a job in retail, and then simultaneously kept writing and performing music. In 2015, I started a video game company because I wanted another place to write music. This in turn has given me a whole host of skills I now use as an artist – like coding my own interactive musical sculptures!

Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?

When I was 25 my band parted ways, I quit my retail job and I had to move back in with my parents. Instead of giving up on music, I doubled down and focused entirely on finding new ways of making a living from it. This is when I started the games company, began volunteering at an art gallery and even challenged myself to write a new piece of music every week to kickstart my composer portfolio.

Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what?

As hardware becomes cheaper and software becomes free, there's more competition than ever for young musicians and standing out above the crowd is becoming harder and harder.

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?

Shut up and listen.

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

Always be making, whether that's coding small game ideas, or making a song from a cool sound you filmed on your phone – just get used to finishing what you start. As an artist, a great portfolio is just as important (if not more) than any qualification.

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe..

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