Antti Salo, or Asa as he’s better known as, is a DevOps by day and a musician by night. He joined Sangre a couple years ago as a Junior Developer and has since then moved from supporting QA to handling a big portion of our app builds and deployments.
Tell me about what do you do at Sangre?
I've been able to work on quite a variety of things at Sangre and have shifted around a bit. Initially when I started at Sangre, I did mostly QA. After working on some Drupal projects and light backend stuff I've ended up working in DevOps. Currently, I handle all our app builds and deployments, and backend deployments on a few projects. Occasionally I work on Drupal and React stuff as well.
You have an education background in music, right? So, how did you get into programming?
Yeah, I have a degree in music technology. After graduating from the Helsinki Pop & Jazz conservatory, I spent a year thinking about what I wanted to do, and since stable employment in the music business is scarce and my interests in music aren't in particularly lucrative fields, I decided to pursue something else and let music be a side thing without the pressure of trying to make a living out of it.
I went to Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences to study Information technology in the ICT Innovator track on which I was able to work in innovative projects and modern technologies. The projects in the innovator track gave me a better understanding of the wide applications of ICT which further got me into programming.
In the end, the transition from music to IT was quite natural. Music technology is very computer oriented, especially the things I was interested in at the time, like Max/MSP which is used for manipulating software for creating and editing sound, so it didn’t feel like a big jump.
I also like to think that working in an agency like Sangre is a bit similar to being in a band. We work in small teams that consist of people with different skills. Each member brings in their own expertise, but in the end everyone has the same goal, to create something great. Just like in bands. Another similarity is that you get to use your creativity in programming which is also very central in making music.
What’s your favourite part about your work?
I would say that it's the fact that it's quite diverse. I'm not stuck doing repetitive things every. I get to work on different aspects even within a single project. It keeps it interesting, fun and refreshing. I like that kind of freedom and fluidity. You also get to have those 'aha!' experiences when you learn new things. And of course, the first successful release in a complex project is always a great feeling!
What’s the most challenging?
Being a small company, sometimes when several projects have deadlines that land in the same timeframe, it can get pretty hectic. That can mean that you have to jump between different projects quickly and keeping your focus on the tasks at hand while reorienting can be challenging.
You've been able to work on different types of projects already and have learnt on the go. What advice would you give to others who want to develop their skillset at work?
Be open to take on responsibilities in different areas, if you’re curious about them, even if you don’t have that much experience with them yet. Ask for advice from more experienced developers when you need it. You don’t have to be able to produce perfect results immediately when you’re still a junior, but you’re probably able to learn things rather quickly because you also have the advantage of not being bound by bigger responsibilities in other areas already. Be open and don’t set your personal bar too high, especially in the beginning.
What do you like to do on your free time?
Working on music takes up a lot of my free time. I also spend a lot of time with my dog and taking photos. I especially enjoy film photography. Other than that, I’m currently trying to get back into reading regularly and have been checking out some more recent video games. I watch a lot of YouTube as well!
Film photography must be a nice way to balance working digitally.
That's one of the main reasons why I enjoy it. You can't even really bring a phone into the darkroom, so you get a break from staring at a screen all day. It's also very hands-on. The film is a physical thing you develop and then hang to dry, and you get prints that you can browse, give out and so on. I'm thinking of doing a small zine this year out of some of the photos I've taken in Japan.
Tell us a bit about your band and the bands you work with.
Lately I've been working with a heavy metal band called Tyrantti, who are my long-time friends. We're currently recording new material for an upcoming album, with me handling the recording and mixing duties. These days I prefer to mostly work with friends' bands and projects that are otherwise interesting to me. For some reason most projects I work on seem to be quite heavy, even though it's not the only genre I'm interested in. Out of other bands I've worked with I would mention the sludge band Slave Hands and the doom metal band Ever Circling Wolves. As for personal projects, I'm working on a full length with my band Aberrant Vascular. It's coming along slowly but surely, there's still some polishing to do on the tracks before mixing and mastering. It's kind of a different project, as we don't rehearse or play live, we just work on new material until it's done and then release it.
"Working in an agency like Sangre is a bit similar to being in a band. We work in small teams that consist of people with different skills. Each member brings in their own expertise, but in the end everyone has the same goal, to create something great."
You recently went to Japan for a month. Was it your second or third time? What keeps you going back?
It was the third time I've been there now. Honestly, I'm not sure what it is, I just really like it there for some reason! I think it started when I took a Japanese language course many years ago. Learning the language gradually became a long-term project for me, and that in turn was a major thing that got me interested in other things related to Japanese culture. Japan is a unique place, and I think there's always things to discover there, no matter how many times you've visited. Perhaps the reason I keep going back is trying to find the reason that keeps me going back!
Give us your best travel tips!
No 1: I like to travel without planning things too far ahead. It's always more fun and exciting if you can just make them up on the go.
No 2: Try to pick up as much of the language as you can. It's so easy to rely on English everywhere you go, but you might get an even greater experience if you can communicate with the locals in their own language.
No 3: Pack light enough. You always see people with huge suitcases having problems in escalators, trains and so on which is not making the travel experience better.
No 4: Try the weird sounding foods too. They're probably great!
If you're interested in working with Asa or want to know more about what it's like to work with us, check out our Careers page. Connect with Asa on LinkedIn if you want to learn more about his work or want to have a chat with him.