Tin man thrives on home-made amps

Phil Shankland
Phil Shankland
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Sheffield’s thriving music scene isn’t just about the people who make music - the city is full of unsung technical heroes too.

And one such hero is Phil Shankland.

Shankland, based at Kelham Island, has been producing mini speakers for more than eighteen months. But there’s nothing complicated about Shankland’s creations. His product - quite literally - does what it says on the tin. Known as ‘Tinamps’, Shankland’s mini-speakers can plug into all manner of cutting edge devices and produce a sound that’s bright, crisp and clear. And, to add to that, they come in vintage tin boxes.

At the moment though, he’s winding down from a hectic Tramlines, for which he curated a stage at the Shakespeare with producer Alan Smyth.

“It was absolutely brilliant,” says Shankland. “I love Tramlines - the whole of Sheffield comes out to play and this year was especially good because I was at the Shakespeare running a stage with 2 Fly/. I promised myself last year that I would host a stage at this year’s Tramlines so Alan and I decided over a pint to do it.”

His Tinamps went down a storm. “There were a couple there to look at people seemed to really like them. They are rather beautiful and tactile and it’s lovely to work with my hands. There’s something zen-like about putting these amplifiers together. Doing this has taught me to be patient, to learn to collaborate with people and it’s also highlighted my weaknesses. But I like the fact it does that.”

His Tinamps are the size of a small tobacco tin. “I am a festival goer and it’s always handy to have a tobacco tin so they are a good size.”

But at Tramlines, he branched out. “We had a DJ playing so we had a ‘Tin Amp soundsystem’, which was made out of an antique biscuit tin and the bass box was made out of a tea chest from Tanzania.”

But it’s not just the fact this soundsystem is made from a tea chest and a biscuit tin that makes it so extraordinary. “It’s also powered by a caravan battery - so you could have a party in a field if you wanted to.”

Tinamps is growing, as Shankland gets more and more orders for his dainty sonic masterpieces. And there’s exciting news on the horizon too. “There is an investor who’s interested but we need to get the arm wrestle and the hand shake out of the way first.”

But as for last weekend, Tinamps’ Tramlines debut was a success. “It was fantastic and really good to contribute to the festival.”

To learn more about Phil Shankland’s Tin Amps visit http://www.tinamps.com/