Sound of Data Symposium Makes Waves in Toronto’s Experimental Music Community


There’s no question that Toronto is abundant with musicians and producers, from clubs and nightlife to local artists releasing work. Yet when it comes to getting started, resources can seem few and far between. Enter the Sound of Data Symposium at Ryerson University.

Gathering a handful of the finest minds in electronic, analog, and experimental music for a full day of workshops, the event is aimed at lowering the barrier of entry for aspiring music producers, while also exploring data, visuals and sounds.

The Symposium will present various modules on music synthesis including “data sonification” with the visualization software TouchDesigner, made by Toronto-based company Derivative. The sessions are designed as introductions on specialized aspects of making electronic music, and are accessible for all skill levels.

“Visuals play a huge part in elevating the experience of performance,” says Sofie Mikhaylova, also known by her DJ moniker Sonja. She is the event facilitator and the busy founder of Biblioteka Records, a local electronic and experimental label.

An expert herself when it comes to analog synthesis, Mikhaylova says, “People are realizing that, especially in electronic music, it is really boring to just sit and watch someone DJ or play their instrument. When you’re an electronic performer, there’s not a whole lot of movement involved in that.”

John Shiga, a Ryerson Professional Communications professor, explains the event is a part of Ryerson’s overall strategy of creating spaces for artists beyond the classroom. He is excited for this collaboration and the people it will bring together, including the rich body of expertise on show. The presenters include Karl Skene, well known in Toronto’s club community for his incredible interactive visuals that pull in elements of audio, video and 3D geometry, often triggered by sensors; and Tom Auger, CTO of digital agency Art & Science, who will demonstrate data sonification with an interactive art installation named the Orpheum.

“People want to touch things,” Mikhaylova says, adding that the Symposium is meant to be interactive, inexpensive and focused on the powerful potentials of musical technology. It’s for audio nerds who want to meet a lively community outside of parties and shows.

Ryerson Music Den coordinator Cormac McGee says that it’s as simple as providing a spot for these unique communities to gather, as price can be a barrier for organizers and attendees of events of this kind. He explains, “It’s all about helping people create sustainable careers in music. Collaborations often come up. What we try to do is offer a place and program where people can build and grow.”

Mikhaylova says, “Nobody’s just an artist anymore. Everyone does their own video, their own marketing, things crossover very easily. I feel this event is a really great way to unite these things.”

And many people seem to agree, as the Sound of Data Symposium is sold out. Be sure to follow Biblioteka for highlights from the event and to keep informed on future workshops.

Sound of Data Symposium // Sat, Mar. 14 //