Standing at the intersection of music and technology, Boris But is uniquely equipped to envision what the future of music will sound like. Boris is a Montreal based music-tech entrepreneur who was brought up on an eclectic diet of 80’s Cantopop, contemporary R&B, and indie pop.
He is the co-founder of an AI-powered music company called Mixonset that wants to revolutionize the music experience by replacing Shuffle with Smart Mix.
1. Where do you see technology coming into play in the world of music?
First, we have to think about what music does. When I think about music, I’m reminded about that beat drop right as my heart drops, and I’m reminded of a long-ago time on a derelict rooftop in Hong Kong. Music is intricately tied to memory and emotions: funky dancing in the kitchen and karaoke roadtrips across the Japanese countryside.
Technology expands those possibilities of beauty. When a producer uses an Akai MPC to sample an old soul record, she’s not destroying that warm, shimmering sound. On the contrary! She’s taking something beautiful and reimagining what it could sound like. Just as when you listen to a song on a streaming platform, you could be listening to a song created by someone in Jakarta, but the music floats straight to your ear. That’s the magic of technology.
Technology does not take away from the art in music – it should liberate it. Technology empowers music to be more free, creative, and inspirational.
2. What made you come up with the idea for your startup?
I’m the first to admit that I didn’t come up with the idea. My co-founder and CEO, Zeyu Li did. Zeyu is a music extraordinaire who spent years as a modern-day Hannah Montana: he built complicated software for investments banks in the daytime, and DJed at Toronto clubs at night. It was really on a frigid Canadian ski slop that Zeyu had his “a-ha” moment. He’d always found it annoying to skip songs while he’s wearing all that skiing gear. But what if you could have a personal DJ that curates, mixes, and suggests songs all instantly?
So Zeyu spent two years combining his music and tech skills and built Mixonset’s AI-algorithm. So now everyone can Smart Mix their music!
3. What’s the biggest space for innovation in the music world?
When you listen to Spotify today, you skip half of all your songs. While playlists are uber personal and made by you, they’re frustrating because they’re built around the Shuffle button, a format that renders your music experience disjointed and disorienting.
Listeners can do way better! And there’s already a historic solution that partiers in the past have come up with – the DJ! The DJ figures out which songs blend together, what the queue is, what the vibe is. What if you could do what the DJ did for parties and gatherings, and bring that hyper-personal experience to your playlist - made with the utmost care? Mixonset users currently only skip 9% of songs versus half of all songs on Spotify.
But we have a bigger goal! We envision a music future where you can just listen to the right part of the right song. You wouldn’t need to skip at all.
4. What do you want to accomplish in your life?
I am lucky that my family is extremely supportive in every way. They’ve given me the luxury to pursue whatever I want. One phrase that my mother kept saying to me as a kid was that I could be a street cleaner, but I had to be the best street cleaner that there ever was. The kernel of truth that she shared was that I needed to find meaning in mastery. When you seek to master something, you strive for it, hunger for it, and find meaning at its heart.
I want to create – I want to create something great. And more importantly, I want there to be a tangible improvement in how people live from day to day through my hard work. It could be by creating a better music experience. It could just be the joy that you get when you discover a new artist that you love. There are wonderful new artists out there making incredible music. We want to help them share that beauty with the world.
5. What are 3 things you’re grateful for?
- My family and the wonderful people who love and support me
- Pain au chocolat
- Frank Ocean’s music
6. Favorite quote?
“And this, too, shall pass away.”
When you’re feeling overconfident, this quote grounds you. And when you’re feeling down in the dumps, it reminds you that there will always be better days to come.
Mixonset's co-founder: Boris But (Middle) and Zeyu Li (Right)
Visit their website https://www.mixonset.com/
or click here to get your own personal DJ now!