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Interview: Thomas Dolby Talks About His Return

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The techno boom has finally caught up with Thomas Dolby.

The award winning synth-pop pioneer known for his innovative mixture of technology and music basically left a music career behind to become a business entrepreneur. He founded Beatnik, an audio software provider that seems the perfect marriage of Dolby’s two main interests – – music and technology. So why reignite a music career?

“This is a fascinating time for music,” said Dolby, born Thomas Morgan Robinson. “Unlike my generation, musicians today can get right to the public and succeed on their own merits.”

While Dolby’s music, like that of other artists of the '80s, was often compartmentalized and restrained by record company demands, no one can question Dolby’s creativity even in that restrictive environment as he merged technology with various sounds.

“…he certainly deserves to be recognized as one of the decade's major risk-takers,” wrote a critic for All Music Guide. “The new wave/synth-pop artist wasn't afraid to experiment, and while his experiments didn't always work, many of them did.”

While Dolby preferred his individual techno sound, such songs as “Hyperactive!,” and “She Blinded Me With Science,” won awards and fans. Dolby is reflective on the divergent directions of his work at that time.

“If that was all I had done, I wouldn’t have been on the Billboard charts,” he said. “Part of my music was blatantly commercial. But a taste of commercial success was enough for me. I never really got to where I belong.”

Touring behind his latest EP Thomas Dolby and the Jazz Mafia Horns Live at SXSW, it’s clear Dolby has broadened his sound – or maybe just decided to share his musical maturation with a whole new generation. “The Key to Her Ferrari,” a jazz number that includes a sports car revving in the background, is just plain fun. And you have to love “Your Karma Hit My Dogma,” which was inspired by legal wrangling between Dolby and Kevin Federline. Think of George Harrison mixed with Dolby’s hit “She Blinded Me With Science,” mixed with plenty of background percussion.

“Every time I sit down at the piano, I can record it and put it online and get feedback tomorrow,” said Dolby. “The interesting thing for me is that when I started…feedback didn’t exist. You had little sense of how an audience would respond or why they liked you. The metrics were sales figures. Now we control our destinies.”

Control yours and check out Dolby's EP at his website. Better still, see him in concert. You won't be disappointed.

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