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After a successful inaugural year, The Sound of the Year Awards returned in 2021/22. A celebration of everyday sound in all its forms, the awards are presented by The Museum of Sound in partnership with The New BBC Radiophonic Workshop and others.

The awards aim to highlight the rapidly-growing international community of sound professionals and enthusiasts as the value of good sound, listening, and healthy sonic environments are becoming recognised as a vital part of our lives.

Quiet Mark was delighted this year when our CEO & CoFounder, Poppy Szkiler was invited to join the esteemed panel of judges. Quiet Mark was also the official partner of a brand new category for 2021, 'Best Sound Innovation in Everyday Life': ‘Recognising a new technology, appliance or technique made public in the last year that has improved the sound of something experienced in everyday life’.

In our latest episode of The Quiet Mark Podcast, we speak with Manchester based Sound Artist, Hayley Suviste, Lead Producer of The Sound of The Year Awards, to find out more about this year's awards. Our host, Simon Gosling, also enjoys a global conversation with the category winner, Justin Wiggan in Cornwall UK, and Runners Up, Fanis Maragkos in Athens, Greece and Yui Onodera in Tokyo, Japan, to find out more about their fascinating, innovative and timely entries and the stories behind them.

Haley is a sound artist based in Manchester who uses her music to explore community and culture. “I came onto the Sound of the Year Awards in 2020, just helping on social media at the start, and the responsibilities kept growing. It was also just a pleasure to work with companies like Quiet Mark who are super forthcoming and gave your all into the partnership and getting people involved which helped grow the awards - we had double the submissions this year in comparison to last! So these partnerships definitely helped to reach out to more people and spread the word”. 

Haley also notified the relevancy of the awards and how the winners’ projects are so in tune with political issues with last year’s focus being Black Lives Matter and this year’s mental health and sustainability. “That’s been a great thing to witness over the past few years. The sounds the judges pick up as being the most prominent are politically charged and relevant to the modern world. From ‘clap for carers’ to sounds that affect mental health the sounds are all so relevant and the awards will keep these archives for years so we will be able to define eras by sound. I love that about the Sound of the Year Awards - it’s not about fancy equipment but rather authentic relevant sounds.”

Suviste also spoke about the global awareness and relevance of the awards, noting this year’s overall winner, ‘Bald Eagles and Wildfire Helicopters’ by Jacob Job, that encapsulated the sound of the effects of the global warming induced wildfires in Rocky Mountain National Park, USA. “For those who aren’t experiencing the immediate effects of global warming, such as us in the UK, to be able to listen to these recordings places us in situations which bring out more empathy than, say, a photo. We hope to build on these relationships, develop the categories and the archive for the future. I’m already excited for next year’s awards.” 

After thanking Haley for her introduction, we were lucky enough to have the winner of this year’s Best Sound Innovation in Everyday Life category, Just Wiggin from Cornwall, explain to us his fascinating project Echo Point. “Echo Point is a facilitation and exploration project turning our homes and workspaces into sonic safe spaces and allowing breathing and listening to make an impact. It came about as a conversation about coastal mental health and safety. I wanted to look into the issues and shocking figures surrounding suicide in Cornwall and the association with coastel areas. I wanted to design a soundscape which would reduce agitation and increase breathing and also extend dwell time so emergency services had more time to get to somebody. Covid naturally sparked this focus on mental health. We talk a lot about renewable energy but I’d argue that the mental health crisis is as drastic as the energy crisis in many ways - I wanted to create renewable mental health through sound.” 

“I worked with Cornwall council to facilitate a test across the south west and generated QR codes in bus stops to see what the effects would be. The responses were incredible and so engaged - we had 2,500 users a month on Echo Point! I also worked with a great company in Wales called Black Box AV who do have a solar powered bench through which I processed sounds. Users would press a button and be taken through a guided mindfulness breathing exercise. We worked with the NHS and notified changes in stress levels in under three minutes through use of the benches.” 



In terms of how the idea originated, Justin illustrated the ‘happy accident’ element of being motivated to do something about suicide and mental health in the south west. “Originally I was looking at mental health issues with families going on holiday to Cornwall. While holidays are great, it’s stressful for a lot of parents. My initial idea stemmed from reducing agitation on holiday for families and I thought of an acoustic pod but I was so shocked with the suicide rates in the south west during my research that I started to make that the focus. Every forty seconds, somebody takes their life and in the last forty five years the suciife rates have increased by 65% worldwide.”  

Justin also illustrated a point about sound that we, at Quiet Mark are so passionate about- it’s secondary status to visual importance. “We are told to navigate the world through ocularcentric means placing sound as a secondary element where sound pops a visual bubble; an ambulance driving by, a phone ringing etc. I spent some time training as a care nurse and I used that opportunity to work with people at the end of their lives and recreate memory scapes for them based on happy memories, allowing them to emotionally time travel to their happy place. Prisons, care homes and schools took interest.” 

Our runners up, Theofanis and Yui, also shared the incredible stories behind their projects which won runner up in the same category. Theofanis’ entry is a recording with a system called MSR (Moving Sound Receptor). “I have recorded soundscapes throughout Corfu and Kefalonia. I have always had a passion for sound and want to be with sounds through studying music which led me to recording sounds.”

“My submission is related to a PhD project based on field recording and acoustic ecology. We are proposing a method of recording continuously in motion through trajectories within soundscapes transparently, i.e. without the intrusion of unwanted sounds caused by the movement itself. The objective of this method is the reproduction of the soundscape as a spatiotemporal entity and not only temporal, as it happens with the majority of field recordings today. The sound recorded in this manner captures the finest details of the changes of soundscape due to its spatial variability that should be otherwise artificially calculated (based on a series of static sonic captures coming from a distributed network of points of capture).” 

Yui’s project is a generative music system created by a project that he has established called the Laboratory for Metropolitan Sound. “This work was created as a sound interior for everyday living environments that revitalise mental recovery."

“Twenty years ago I studied guitar in a music school and then, as laptops became readily available for young people, I started producing music. At that time I was very interested in German electronic music so went to Berlin to study music, during which I went to Holocaust museums which developed an interest for architecture. Once I returned to Japan, I went to work for an architecture company to create clubs and concert halls and design their acoustics.” 

“This is a generative music system created by a project that I have established called LMS Laboratory for Metropolitan Sound. This work was created as a sound interior for everyday living environments that revitalise mental recovery. Since ancient times in Japan, listening to the sounds of nature and creating natural music has been a part of our culture. I wanted to use nature in a modern way to create musical sound. This sound generation system, which we call "Sound Garden", is a modern update and development of this ancient Japanese original system using digital technology. This system uses microphones to harmonise the environmental sounds of a location in real time, and continuously obtains weather information (weather, temperature, humidity, wind speed) for a specific location, which is then reflected in the sound design (tone, dry/wet, panning, etc).” 

It was a joy to speak to these sound artists and designers and be inspired by the consequences their work has on the environment around us. Bring on next year!


To listen to all the Sound of the Year Awards 2021 - Winning and Shortlisted work go to:


Listen to Episode 41: And The Winner Us… The Sound of the Year Awards 2021 HERE