Zai'en Pan

Zai'En Pan

Why did you decide to study at the University of Leeds?

Having graduated from a diploma in music technology, I was looking for a degree that would explore the technical aspects of sound and music. I then discovered the BSc Music, Multimedia and Electronics course when I was looking to study abroad and decided to study this unique course. The university’s ranking on the league tables as well as the high student population was a positive reinforcement towards confirming my choice. 

What has been the best aspect of studying on your course and at the University?

People are often surprised that music and electronics can be put in the same sentence, as they don’t know how these two topics can be closely related. While progressing through these different aspects of the course, I enjoy discovering the topics that I am good at. Shuttling between the School of Engineering and School of Music, I was able to interact with people of very different worlds, and it was interesting learning how I could fit myself into both groups simultaneously. It has been a great journey of self-discovery thus far.

Coming to Leeds has been a great way for me to meet people from everywhere and I am really glad to have had the opportunity to do so much here. I played in musicals with various student societies and performed at many gigs in Leeds. The Leeds University Union is one of the best things to have at the university, and my friends who visit are always surprised at the amenities we have. 

Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed so far? 

As part of my second year Mobile Applications module, I wrote an iPhone app that creates chords for musicians to compose a song quickly. I won’t claim to be an expert in mobile apps but I am quite proud to have made something that is related to my interests.

I am working on two major projects in my final year. For my Music Technology module, I am investigating the use of automated mastering services and how artificial intelligence fares when used in the audio mixing and mastering process. As for the Music, Multimedia and Electronics project, my group is working on producing a tool that can generate harmonically consonant sounds from inharmonic everyday objects using its acoustical properties. All of these are highly related to my course and it is a great opportunity to work on these with the help from knowledgeable lecturers. 

What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?

A high student population makes studying in Leeds a gigantic shared experience for everyone. There is always something happening every day of the week and the activities to do are almost endless. Leeds is constantly growing and it is on its way to becoming one of the top cities to live and work in. Things are more affordable as compared to London but the quality of life still remains of a high standard. 

What are your ambitions for the future?

I will be returning home to Singapore to run Artwave Studio, a start-up founded by my girlfriend and myself, dedicated to composition and sound design across film, theatre, and literary works. We work with artists, social enterprises and businesses to produce new experiences through audio, challenging everyday listening expectations. I am also hoping to tour with my band SUPERSECT, a kung-fu fighting bunch that blends the gravelly nature of rock, the conductive and magnetic lustre of metal and the cosmic juju of funk.

What experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?

There are too many to list! I had taken on responsibilities that really propelled my personal growth. For 17/18, I was the entertainment director of the Malaysian-Singaporean Society where I got to plan events for my fellow countrymen studying in Leeds. Even after handing over the role, I was still very involved in coordinating fun-filled events. In 18/19 I produced a play for them which saw me overseeing the entire production process as well as writing original music and sound design. 

As a student ambassador representing the Music, Multimedia and Electronics (MME) course, I get to speak to prospective students about the course during Open Days. I facilitate group tours and enjoy demonstrating how I am using the studio equipment. I enjoy being able to provide my honest perspective as it gives future students a better sense of what university life is like.

What would you say to students coming to do the same course?

The knowledge you receive is based on how much effort you are willing to put into it. The process of studying this course will put many things on your plate but it is completely up to you to feed yourself. Make the most out of your position by hanging out and getting to know people from both sides of the course. Life is more enjoyable with friends everywhere.