How the Aliens ate my surfboard – an interview with Thomas Dolby, what’s new?

Earlier this month was the debut of a dynamic project which opens the way for Barbadian performers to tap directly into the US market through the Caribbean Music Summit.

This project saw many luminaries arrive for workshops and panel discussions, among them one of my heroes from the 80’s – Thomas Dolby.

One of his signature tunes was used in the pilot for the Big Bang Theory, “She Blinded Me With Science” which featured a voice sample of Magnus Pyke (a technique now considered everyday, but at that point it was unique and eccentric) but strangely enough it did not get a reprise in the popular TV series…

At the Caribbean Music Summit, he even explained how his hit came into being… Thomas reminisced how MTV changed the way music happened in the 80’s, people stayed home to watch their music rather than go to a club – he said how he could not break ground for radio. He made a mini movie, which the tune was the soundtrack for, based on horror movies with mad scientists.

Also known for hits like "Europa and The Pirate Twins," or "Hyperactive" and in 2011 had a lush, orchestral return with "A Map Of The Floating City" which harnessed a cornucopia of various styles, not strictly the techno-pop he made his mark on the MTV landscape with in the mid-80s which many fans sought to pigeonhole his talent at.

Also known for hits like “Europa and The Pirate Twins,” or “Hyperactive” and in 2011 had a lush, orchestral return with “A Map Of The Floating City” which harnessed a cornucopia of various styles, not strictly the techno-pop he made his mark on the MTV landscape with in the mid-80s which many fans sought to pigeonhole his talent at.

This would beg the question if he plans to do another album? When asked if there’s more music to come, Thomas got a strange smirk and indicated while nothing is afoot right now, it could happen at any moment…

Now sporting an all-off like Sir Patrick Stewart and Bruce Willis, the composer has remained hyperactive - creating a mobile company and sold it off to Nokia... Beatnik Incorporated pioneered music for HTML which in turn paved the way for polyphonic ringtones which many smartphones still use as their default music when customers are not downloading MP3's.

Now sporting an all-off like Sir Patrick Stewart and Bruce Willis, the composer has remained hyperactive – creating a mobile company and sold it off to Nokia… Beatnik Incorporated pioneered music for HTML which in turn paved the way for polyphonic ringtones which many smartphones still use as their default music when customers are not downloading MP3’s.

He also became the Music Director for TED talks from its inception, when people said why would you put a classroom on Youtube? LOL! In his view, and we quote he said; “The web is a silent movie waiting for sound.”

The professor also surfs, in fact, when we got a chance to have a chat with him… Thomas was about to nip to Silver Sands before his flight back to New York, this was to pay Brian Talma for a surfboard which he bashed when riding the southern Barbadian waves the day before.

Did we say Professor? Correct, he is a Director of Music and an Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins University. Better known for its medical mastery, the faculty has decided to branch into creative spheres and felt Thomas Dolby was the best mix of music and technology for the next wave of the Internet revolution.

At Johns Hopkins, he will be teaching “Sound on Film,” a collaboration between Homewood’s Film and Media Studies program and Peabody’s Recording Arts and Sciences program, in which students create soundtracks for films. Dolby will also help lead the university’s efforts in Baltimore’s blossoming arts and entertainment district through the Program in Sound on Film at Station North.

Situated in Maryland, this career move allows the composer and his wife to be closer to their three children, who are pursuing college in New York, and this is also easier when he decides to visit his own family in his native UK.

In Maryland, their idea for creatives is vastly different to Barbados, they have a whole district as a tax free area as an incentive for artists to come and develop projects there – which is why Johns Hopkins is developing a Cultural Center which the Professor is avidly intrigued with its success, the building of this entity got a significant boost from ex-NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Taking time to pose with a fan before going to airport via Silver Sands, we're sure Brian Talma would welcome the Professor once again!

Taking time to pose with a fan before going to airport via Silver Sands, we’re sure Brian Talma would welcome the Professor once again!

Thomas is no stranger to the Caribbean, he’s sailed to Antigua and love his bus ride to Silver Sands, he let Mark Frieser and Noush Mostaghimi (Caribbean Music Summit pioneers) be aware if they require his services, he’ll be more than happy to assist and participate – hopefully he’ll have better luck with surfing next time! 😉

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