July - August 2022 — Music
Brian Bamanya is an experimental multidisciplinary artist from Uganda who performs and records under the name Afrorack. Brian is credited as a pioneer in building DIY modular synthesizers in Africa. He will spend a month at the Swiss Museum for Electronic Music Instruments (SMEM) from July – August 2022 for a research trip to gain inspiration and deepen his knowledge in this field.
Brian has always been interested in tinkering with electronics, building circuits, hacking devices and messing around with microcontrollers. Brian explains: “I have always been fascinated by music and the process of its creation but I quickly realized that it was prohibitively expensive to buy all the modern music instruments to create it. I figured that the easier way for me to get the music tools and instruments that I needed was to learn how to make them myself. This set me on a journey to teach myself about electronics, computer programming, working with wood, metal and other materials. I started searching through internet forums and Youtube to see if it was possible to build my own synthesizers. Slowly but surely, I started building my ideas into musical instruments and over time I got more experience and ideas in building instruments that I wanted.”
Brian’s artist moniker Afrorack is an antithesis to Eurorack, the commercial and expensive format of modular synthesizers. Via his YouTube channel, Brian has gained a following in the international electronic music community and the attention of major music instrument manufactures like Arturia, Behringer and Korg.
SMEM has the world’s largest living archive of synthesizers and thousands of other electronic music instruments. It also has an extensive library of books on synthesis and carries out workshops and lectures exploring the history and future of electronic instrument craft. Brian believes the research trip will inspire new ideas in his process of building his own music instruments. He also hopes to record new material and build new networks and connections.
Brian Bamanya is an experimental multidisciplinary artist and DIY synth maker. He has done projects in sound art, electronic music, experimental visuals, renewable energy and kinetic sculptures. Some of his work has gained attention from major international companies like Korg, Behringer and Arturia among others who have invited him to collaborate on projects. Brian has appeared at several local and international festivals which include Atlas Electronic in Morocco, Nyege Nyege in Uganda, CTM Festival in Germany and Dakar Art Biennale in Senegal. He has also appeared as a speaker at several international conferences like Africa Synthesized 2020 organized by African Institute of Music and Innovation and Bowed Electronics organized by the University of Cape Town. His work has also appeared in international media and publications like Shado Magazine, Arte tracks, Pan African Music and Radio France International (RFI). In May 2022, Brian released his debut self-titled album “The Afrorack” on Hakuna Kulala, one of the music labels under the Nyege Nyege festival where he explores modular synthesis on his homebuilt contraptions.