Happiness is connecting with others
By Sylvain Fanet,
He is a producer, a musician, an entrepreneur and the founder of SuperPhone, a social media platform that takes connecting people further than ever.
How would you describe yourself? As an artist, a producer, businessman, inventor?
I’m interested in being the best version of myself that I can be. And that means that I’m always learning. I think the concept for me, from starting in music to now evolving into technology, is always how much I can learn while I’m here. With the concept of SuperPhone and the technology that I’m building, I’m interested in learning as much as possible. When you’re a musician, your art lets you connect to others, first live and then through different channels to disseminate your music and communicate with your audience. But sometimes that connection remains very much on the surface. I’ve learned that what’s important in life is richness of your relationships.
You like to learn, but you like to share your knowledge, too.
Yeah. I want everyone to live their best life. Just before I came to Switzerland, I was at a convention in Boston, speaking to young scientists, future leaders of technology and science. I realised that the way I could help them the most would be by telling them about the mistakes that we, the older generation, have made. That way they can face new challenges instead of the same problems we had to solve. I’m interested in the next generation building a future that’s exciting, that’s better, and the quicker we can get them to that execution, the faster we can enjoy the benefits of that future.
When you were a student at Harvard, what was your goal in life?
When I started at Harvard, I told my parents that I wanted to be a neurosurgeon, a brain surgeon. And very quickly I understood that the people who were studying medicine were very passionate about medicine. And I soon discovered that my passion really was for music, and I really believe that you give the most when you follow your passion. When you do what you love, you never work a day in your life, it’s always passion. I remember calling my father to tell him about my decision.
What was his reaction?
It took him some time to get there (laughs)! I think my father wanted to protect me from the personal, financial and professional risks of pursuing a career that many young people dream of pursuing. In 2003, when I got my break, I remember looking at my bank account, when it went from being in the negative to six figures in the first year, and I think at that point my father and mother understood that this was not just a dream, but was becoming a real career pathway!
Is that why you started out as a producer?
Yes, starting out as a producer gave me the chance to work with Puff Daddy, and I made the most of that opportunity. He asked me to produce records for Britney Spears, Snoop Dogg, Beyoncé – all these big projects he was working on. And making the most of that opportunity is what helped me really get started in the music industry.
How do you view the music industry today?
It’s an industry that’s moving and changing very quickly. For young artists, being able to produce music on a computer, publish it using social media and streaming, and reach a large audience, gives them a freedom and power we could never have imagined just fifteen years ago! Things are actually more transparent and healthier. Access to information about your own audience is crucial and it means these young artists can build solid business models for their work. I find that really exciting!
What do you see as the similarities between a watchmaker's work and your approach to music?
The craftsmanship and the attention to detail that it takes to make an exclusive timepiece by hand is very closely related to the craftsmanship and attention to detail that great record-makers have in their approach to making a recording that lives and stands through generations. There’s also a similar approach in the conception, which moves from inspiration to execution.
In both cases, time plays an important role.
Yes, they share the concept of rhythm, which is, of course, essential in music and simply fundamental in watchmaking, which is based on cycles. A jazz or rock drummer keeps the rhythm and time like a metronome. So yes, time is central to these two professions – it’s a fundamental resource for both the musician and the watchmaker.
How does the Parmigiani watch you’re wearing inspire you?
Each of the movements, all the detailed craftsmanship, the weight of the watch – these elements together mean that, when you’re wearing the watch, you feel more sophisticated, more elegant. Also, in a place like Switzerland, when someone sees this watch, they know that you’re a real connoisseur and someone who truly appreciates greatness in a timepiece.