01 — Curator Story

Stephen Gomberg

Specialist in: electronica

All-round music aficionado Stephen Gomberg is the latest addition to our quickly growing team of curators. Having toured the world extensively in his early 20s as a DJ and producer, he now brings his weighty knowledge of electronica, matched with what does and doesn't work when playing music to large numbers of people, to the Open Ear team.

"The main difference is the number of people the playlist needs to appeal to. In that sense, playlisting for brands can sometimes be much closer to planning out a DJ set than preparing a playlist for a close friend."

02 - An interview with Stephen

Let’s start from the beginning - please introduce yourself and give us a background of your life in music!

Hello! I’m Stephen and have been actively involved within the music scene since my late teens. I began producing music at 14, releasing records at 17 and touring from my early twenties. Music has always been a huge part of my life and it’s been great to continue this passion on at Open Ear.

Is there one area of music you specialise in i.e. genre or scene that you are particularly close to?

I’ve always been drawn to music that operates in the spaces between genres. Past favourites include Arthur Russell, Sly Stone, Aphex Twin, Steve Reich and Wally Badarou, whilst Joe, Barker, Galcher Lustwerk and 96 Back have been on constant rotation in recent months.

What are your favourite places, sources, sites, radio shows or people to discover new music?

I went through quite an obsessive phase of buying music equipment, which led me to discover new tracks through researching the history of specific types of music gear and the artists/producers that used them. That helped me to find a huge amount of amazing music from a really wide spectrum of genres. I also make sure to check out my favourite DJ's radio shows on NTS and Rinse.

Talk to us about your approach to music playlist curation, do you have some key do’s and donts?

The approach to the curation of each playlist varies greatly from one client to the next. It’s important to take into account the taste of the client, the customers and the type of atmosphere that needs to be created in the venue. I also try to balance this with injections of my own informed choices of musical taste.

How is playlisting for brands different than playlisting at home or for personal listening on-the-go?

The main difference is the number of people the playlist needs to appeal to. In that sense, playlisting for brands can sometimes be much closer to planning out a DJ set than preparing a playlist for a close friend.

What are your thoughts on computer algorithms shaping the future of music curation?

It’s similar to the arguments about computer algorithms shaping the future of produced music. I’m sure some strong pieces of music and playlists will eventually be created using AI, but I’m confident technology won’t be able to emulate the minute details of emotional interaction between humans that are vital in musical communication.