My Story

The Beginning of My Life’s Journey

Lil Josh

A song titled “You Can’t Go to School with Pajamas on”

Born in Evanston, IL, in 1998, I had picked up the guitar (quite improperly) by 2001, and penned the song title you see above. A real banger – though, one that was tragically erased from its original tape by a toy metal detector placed too close to a VHS cabinet… my parents will never forgive me. Nor the metal detector. Despite the trauma, I nevertheless returned to pick up the guitar again at age 8, this time somewhat more properly.

At the age of 12, I began to experiment with single-track recording of cover songs as can be seen in my YouTube videos, and this soon developed into multi-track recordings as I began teaching myself to play bass, drums, keys, and the ever-prestigious egg shaker. This led me to pursue the arts of mixing and mastering, as well as some mild video editing. Check out my Music.

In 2017, I released my debut EP; Color it Blue – a collection of five songs written, recorded, and produced entirely independently. I have also continued to perform as part of jazz/r&b/rock bands, at underground house shows (some of which I run!), and recently at FYG U Fest @ UIUC.

“You can’t go to school with pajamas on

’cause the teacher will say

Take your son back home

& give him some clothes” [12-bar blues]

-Josh Hoffman-Peterson, age 3 

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An obsession with how things work, making them work better, and improving technology

Just as I was beginning to learn the guitar, I was also intent on learning how things worked – and solving small-scale problems quickly became an obsession; winding Thomas the Tank Engine tracks through the living room, and building elaborate Lego worlds. Complex projects.

In high school, I entered an array of engineering courses, joined a robotics competition team, and began to learn basics such as CAD/CAM, machine g-code, and programming in Python.

At the end of this period, I somehow secured the bag on an internship at a small local engineering company, where I worked on creating and managing CAD part drawings and production process documentation, as well as running and maintaining industrial mills, lathes, and electrical discharge wire machines. 

These were the experiences that set me on the path for my next four years, presiding at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

College years – Entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, and learning those terms

In 2016, I enrolled in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a student of Music Technology, with a minor in Electrical Engineering – shortly swapped out for a minor in Computer Science. Along with the fun and excitement of college and the Urbana-Champaign locale, I honed my skills in musicianship and theory, as well as technology and design.

Midway through my undergraduate studies, I decided to found my own student organization aimed at creating our University’s first annual outdoor music festival, now known as The Punch Line. Along with friends, I moved into a house with a basement large enough to host our own “house shows”, continuing a long-held tradition in the Urbana-Champaign area of hosting local bands and artists, set up with a full sound and lighting system while packing as many students into our place as possible. We had a few 400-600 person events. And more than a few noise complaints.

I also spent two summers as Product Management Intern at historic microphone manufacturer, Shure, where I helped to bring new products to market in the Wireless and Networked Systems division of advanced conferencing technology, and even designed and chartered a new product line concept in this space of my own, which was acclaimed and put into consideration by company Vice Presidents.

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To higher education and beyond!

During March 2020, I made the decision to pursue my Masters in Technology Management at Illinois’ Gies College of Business, while also entering my newly formed music-industry startup, FastTrack, into the school’s iVenture Accelerator. FastTrack is a web collaboration hub changing the way musicians and music industry professionals service their careers and create more successful releases.

While pursuing these ventures during the 2020-21 academic year, I also continued to lead The Punch Line in launching a series of innovative and technical virtual live music events. We were able to produce a variety of themed, live-streamed events featuring dozens of local and national artists, interactive competitions and activities for audience members, and even built a digital replica of our campus inside of the popular world of Minecraft. These events resulted in a series of high-profile partnerships and endorsements within our community.

Check out my Current page to see what I’m up to at present!