FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27th, 2016
THOMAS DOLBY RECOUNTS MULTIFACETED CAREER
IN FORTHCOMING AUTOBIOGRAPHY
THE SPEED OF SOUND: BREAKING THE BARRIERS
BETWEEN MUSIC AND TECHNOLOGY
Dolby’s years as recording artist, MTV star, producer,
technology innovator and academic form compelling memoir,
due out October 11 from Flatiron Books.
NEW YORK, N.Y. — Walking home after being fired from his job at a grocery store, 16-year-old Thomas Dolby stumbled upon an abandoned musical synthesizer, a Transcendent 2000, lying in a dumpster. Few would have realized that this small discovery would lead to a career performing alongside David Bowie, pitching song lyrics to Michael Jackson, or helping create the iconic Nokia cellphone ringtone. Dolby lived among legends and eventually became one himself, breaking down walls in the music world with hits like “She Blinded Me With Science,” and then doing the same during the technology revolution in Silicon Valley when he helped introduce sound to the Internet.
In his forthcoming autobiography, The Speed of Sound: Breaking the Barriers Between Music and Technology (Flatiron Books; on sale October 11, 2016; $27.99), Thomas Dolby recounts a remarkable career of ups and downs, glamour and corruption, music and tech, and the eventual melding of them all into perfect harmony.
According to Dolby, " I've always been a tinkerer. Never happier than when I'm scratching around without a clue, whether it's programming a MiniMoog or filing for a $90M IPO. Now that most of the characters in my life story are either dead or in jail, I felt it's time to spill the beans."
After spending sleepless nights tweaking and restoring his newfound synthesizer back to life, Thomas Dolby left school to pursue his musical passions. This seemed to many of his friends and family — three generations of Cambridge University professors —like a fever dream. But Dolby was determined and by 1982 he had become a household name with his hits (and accompanying self-directed music videos), “She Blinded Me With Science” and “Hyperactive.” Attempting to duplicate his early successes, and after being left by his record label to fend for himself, Dolby funded a tour for his second album that failed miserably. But his reputation had spread throughout the entertainment industry and he was tapped to work with icons like David Bowie, George Clinton, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, and to write the songs for George Lucas’ cult classic, Howard the Duck.
However, by the early ’90s, Dolby had grown tired of the music industry with its ubiquitous corruption, back door dealings, and sleazy executives. He uprooted his family and moved to the Bay Area where, seeing the inadequacies of music software, he saw an opportunity to make his mark on the industry. With the rise of the Internet, he recognized that websites were missing a crucial element — sound. Through his startup company, Beatnik, Dolby helped pioneer audio in the earliest versions of virtual reality and convinced companies like Yahoo and Netscape that adding musical elements to their websites could draw in more visitors. Yet, once again faced with the reality of a corrupt and soul-crushing industry, and losing sight of his earliest visions for Beatnik, Dolby resigned from the company he founded. Seeing yet another opportunity, he decided to pursue the emerging world of mobile uses for music, with astonishing success: Beatnik’s technology was eventually licensed and embedded into more than two billion wireless devices, and our cell phones haven’t sounded the same since.
Thomas Dolby has spent his career at the intersection of music and technology. He was an early star on MTV, and then moved to Silicon Valley, where he has an extraordinary career as an entrepreneur. He has been named Johns Hopkins University’s first Homewood Professor of the Arts, where he will help create a new center that will serve as an incubator for technology in the arts.
Melding the world of rock and roll with the high-energy and high-stake technology boom of the 1990s, The Speed of Sound is the sensational story of a man who stood at the vanguard of it all. From early appearances on MTV to tough negotiations with the biggest names in Silicon Valley, Dolby’s memoir takes readers through the voracious devotion of one man and his insatiable passion for music.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2013
THOMAS DOLBY PERFORMS
LIVE CONCERT/FILM IN NATIONWIDE U.S. TOUR
Live music and film merge in presentation
of DIY Film Festival Award-winning The Invisible Lighthouse
NEW YORK, N.Y. — Thomas Dolby, the multi-Grammy™ nominated artist and producer, takes his new live show — part film, part concert, part transmedia event — on the road this fall. Each show will be a unique event that cannot be replicated outside of Dolby’s theater performance.
In a 20-date tour of historic arthouse cinemas and independent film festivals, Dolby will perform a live narration and musical score in front of a projected film image, accompanied by Foley artist/musician/sound designer Blake Leyh. Between them they will bring to U.S. audiences an innovative hybrid of documentary and art installation, as they manipulate sound, music and lighting to dramatic effect.
The Invisible Lighthouse is a new film that Thomas shot and edited entirely himself, detailing the closure of a beautiful lighthouse on the tip of a mysterious ex-military island off the East Coast of England. Thomas has known the evocative flash of this lighthouse since he was a child. Moved to pick up a film camera and document its imminent closure, he received little co-operation from the authorities. So he risked a clandestine dawn raid on the island in an RIB (rigid inflatable boat), and captured the eerie atmosphere of the island and the final flash of its iconic landmark using a remote controlled drone and a selection of high-tech spy cameras.
Dolby’s film is attracting attention in high places. J.J. Abrams (director of Star Trek Into Darkness and the forthcoming Star Wars feature film) described it as “touching, evocative, and beautiful.” Meanwhile XM Sirius Radio’s Richard Blade simply said the show was “breathtaking.”
The Invisible Lighthouse has already received acclaim at U.S. film festivals including the Los Angeles DIY Film Festival, where it won the awards for Best Documentary and Best Director, L.A.’s Hollyshorts, the Albuquerque Film & Media Experience, the Columbia Gorge Film Festival, and JamFest in New Orleans, where it won for Best Documentary Short. The U.S. tour this fall will kick off with a special evening at the Mill Valley Film Festival on October 10th, at which Dolby will conduct interviews and musical jams with several special guests before staging a full live performance of his film.
Also on the road will be The Time Capsule, an intriguing 1930s teardrop trailer bristling with high-tech equipment. VIP guests will be invited to step into the trailer and ask Thomas a question in person. The best conversations will be instantly uploaded to Dolby’s YouTube channel.
About Thomas Dolby
Thomas Dolby was an indelible part of the electronic music landscape on both sides of the Atlantic in the ’80s. The Zelig of synthpop, he was seemingly there or thereabouts at all points of that crucial decade. He enjoyed huge solo success with the singles “She Blinded Me With Science” and “Hyperactive!,” composed and performed on hits for everyone from AOR giants Foreigner to none-more-quirky new-wave girl Lene Lovich, produced three superlative albums for Prefab Sprout, and even co-wrote the much-sampled early rap classic “Magic’s Wand” by Whodini. In 2011 he released A Map of the Floating City, his first solo album in almost two decades. A “travelog across three imaginary continents,” A Map . . . comprises Amerikana, Oceanea and Urbanoia, available as three separate EPs as well as an album consisting of those same constituent parts. Luckily, Thomas Dolby has been both — pop star and now esoteric and experimental but highly accessible albums artist. “I'm happy,” he says, “to settle into Chapter 2 of my career and make a bunch of albums that are challenging, adventurous and eye-opening.” His short film The Invisible Lighthouse won two awards at the 2013 DIY Film festival in Los Angeles.
About Blake Leyh
Blake Leyh is a composer, music supervisor, music producer and sound designer who lives in New York City. Born in New York but raised in England until age 15, Leyh has worked in film post-production sound and music for 30 years. His sound credits include films by James Cameron, The Coen Brothers, Spike Lee, Ang Lee, John Waters, Jonathan Demme, Julie Taymor, and Stephen Daldry. Leyh was the music supervisor and composer for all five seasons of HBO’s acclaimed series The Wire, and was the music supervisor for David Simon’s New Orleans series Treme. He has composed musical scores for more than 20 feature films, including many award-winning documentaries.
The Invisible Lighthouse live dates:
Thurs., Oct. 10 MILL VALLEY, CA Mill Valley Film Festival
Sun., Oct. 20 ORLANDO, FL Orlando Film Festival
Wed., Oct. 23 SELLERSVILLE, PA Sellersville Theater
Thurs., Oct. 24 PHILADELPHIA, PA The Trocadero Theatre in association with the Philadelphia Film Festival
Fri., Oct. 25 ALBANY, NY Swyer Theater
Sat., Oct. 26 SOMERVILLE, MA Somerville Theatre
Mon., Oct. 28 NEW YORK, NY Gramercy Theatre
Tues., Oct. 29 CARNEGIE, PA Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall
Wed., Oct. 30 TORONTO, ON 99 Sudbury
Fri., Nov. 1 GLOUCESTER, MA Cape Anne Film Festival
Sun., Nov. 3 ROYAL OAK, MI Royal Oak Music Theatre
Mon., Nov. 4 CHICAGO, IL Mayne Stage
Tues., Nov. 5 MINNEAPOLIS, MN Cedar Cultural Center
Wed., Nov. 6 MADISON, WI Majestic Theatre
Thurs., Nov. 7 MILWAUKEE, WI Shank Hall
Sat., Nov. 9 ST LOUIS, MO Blueberry Hill in association with the St. Louis Film Festival
Mon., Nov. 11 LAWRENCE, KS Liberty Hall
Wed., Nov 13 BOULDER, CO The Dairy Center for the Arts
Thurs., Nov. 14 DENVER, CO Bluebird Theater
Sun., Nov. 17 VANCOUVER, BC - TENTATIVE
Mon., Nov 18 SEATTLE, WA Showbox at the Market
Tues., Nov. 19 PORTLAND, OR Alberta Rose Theater
Thurs., Nov. 21 SAN FRANCISCO, CA Swedish American Music Hall
Fri., Nov. 22 LOS ANGELES, CA Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Sat., Nov. 23 SACRAMENTO, CA Crest Theater
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19, 2012
THOMAS DOLBY TO RETIRE AS TED’S MUSIC DIRECTOR
Tech-savvy artist organized eclectic concerts for conference.
NEW YORK, New York — TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design), the nonprofit organization whose long-running conference series is devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading,” announced today that Thomas Dolby, TED’s Music Director since 2001, is stepping down from his duties forthwith.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being part of TED’s astronomical growth over the last twelve years,” said Dolby. “But now’s the right time for me to move on. I’d like to thank the whole TED team, my TED house band musicians, and all the great musical guests we’ve brought to the conference over the years. It’s been a wonderful ride.”
During his tenure, TED audiences were treated to performances by the likes of Paul Simon, Yo-Yo Ma, David Byrne and Herbie Hancock. TED also provided a platform for sensational undiscovered talents, and Internet phenoms. Year by year, Dolby assembled the eclectic TED House Band in multiple configurations, ranging from string quartet to solo electronica.
“Music has always been part of the fabric of a great TED Conference,” said Chris Anderson, TED Curator. “We will miss Thomas, but the warmth of his musical touch will linger for years to come.”
Dolby, who recently returned to recording after a break of nearly two decades, has been enjoying a personal musical renaissance with the release of his new album, A Map of the Floating City, and a worldwide concert tour.
Dolby will always remain a friend and supporter of TED and plans to continue as an attendee at the annual TED and TEDGlobal conferences.
Current tour dates:
Sun., Oct. 7 RICHMOND, CA (Bay Area) Steamstock
Tues., Oct. 23 DENVER, CO Bluebird Theater
Wed., Oct. 24, AUSTIN, TX The Parish
Thurs., Oct. 25 NEW ORLEANS, LA Voodoo Festival - City Park
Fri., Oct. 26 NEW ORLEANS, LA Voodoo Festival - City Park
Sat., Oct. 27 ASHEVILLE, NC Moogfest
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2012
THOMAS DOLBY ANNOUNCES “TIME CAPSULE TOUR”
March and April U.S. and Canada dates, including SXSW, will accent current album A Map of the Floating City with a touch of sci-fi
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — In the wake of his critically acclaimed album A Map of the Floating City, and the groundbreaking FloatingCity.com transmedia game he co-designed, Thomas Dolby will embark on a 26-date North American tour this March, with a rather unusual vehicle in tow (pictured).
The Time Capsule is a chrome- and brass-plated road trailer that seats three. With handcrafted leather and wood fittings, and complex electrical wiring that could have been designed by Nikola Tesla, it resembles a Jules Verne/HG Wells-inspired time-travel machine. Inside is a high-tech video recording suite that allows a music fan or guest artist to upload a personal video message to the Future. The Time Capsule will be parked in the street outside each venue on Dolby’s month-long North American tour, and in front of select local radio and TV stations. It will capture hundreds of 30-second clips over the course of the tour, assembling them into an online video montage.
Fans will be able to walk up and step into the Time Capsule to make their own fully produced and effected digital 30-second video clip. The clips will then be automatically uploaded and viewable on a brand-new YouTube channel <time-capsule.tv> along with the individual user’s own Facebook and Twitter pages. The most viewed clips will win prizes. Dolby’s label Lost Toy People Records is in discussion with several potential sponsors for the project.
“If you had 30 seconds to explain to an alien visitor what went wrong with our civilization, what would you say?” said Thomas Dolby. “Our species may not be around on this planet much longer, so you might as well leave a welcome message for the next guys!”
The Time Capsule Tour kicks off at SXSW in Austin, TX April 12-17, and will take in 24 U.S. cities and two in Canada. A full list is at http://www.thomsdolby.com/tour, while news, merchandise and additional perks are available at the Flat Earth Society fan club. Anyone joining before January 31, 2012 will earn a free download of an exclusive three-remix Thomas Dolby EP entitled “Return to Oceanea.”
Fri., March 13 - 16 AUSTIN, TX SXSW
Sat., March 17 NEW ORLEANS, LA Tipitinas
Sun., March 18 ORLANDO, FL Social
Mon., March 19 BIRMINGHAM, AL Workplay (Seated)
Tues., March 20 ATLANTA, GA The Loft
Wed., March 21 GREENVILLE, SC Handlebar
Fri., March 23 ANNAPOLIS, MD Ram’s Head
Sat., March 24 PHILADELPHIA, PA World Café
Sun., March 25 ALEXANDRIA, VA Birchmere
Wed., March 28 SELLERSVILLE, PA Sellersville Theater
Thurs., March 29 NEW YORK, NY Canal Room
Fri., March 30 NORTHAMPTON, MA Iron Horse
Sat., March 31 RIDGEFIELD, CT Ridgefield Playhouse
Sun., April 1 MONTREAL, QC L’Astral
Mon., April 2 TORONTO, ON Mod Club
Wed., April 4 DETROIT, MI Royal Oak
Thurs., April 5 CHICAGO, IL Park West
Fri., April 6 MINNEAPOLIS, MN Cedar Cultural Center
Tues., April 10 VANCOUVER, BC Rio Theatre
Wed., April 11 SEATTLE, WA Showbox at the Market
Fri., April 13 SAN FRANCISCO, CA Red Devil Lounge
Sat., April 14 SACRAMENTO, CA Ace of Spades / Harlows
Mon., April 16 SAN DIEGO, CA Belly Up Tavern / Anthology
Tues., April 17 LOS ANGELES, CA Largo
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2011
THOMAS DOLBY TO PERFORM U.S. SOLO PERFORMANCE/LECTURES
TO HERALD THE ARRIVAL OF
FIRST NEW STUDIO ALBUM IN 20 YEARS
October shows in seven U.S. cities include appearance at L.A.’s
Grammy Museum and showcase clubs.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Thomas Dolby, the Grammy™-nominated British musician and tech entrepreneur, has announced an October seven-city U.S. mini-tour.
These solo performances will take the form of a 60-minute lecture about his new social networking transmedia game, The Floating City, interspersed with live songs from his upcoming album (A Map of the Floating City, due out October 25 on Lost Toy People Records through Redeye Distribution), as well as a few timeless classics.
The trip will take the artist from coast to coast, with live appearances in Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Most are club venues, though some live radio and TV shows are included. A list of cities and venues appears below.
At each show, Dolby will tell the story behind the recording of the new album on his solar-powered lifeboat, with an impressive array of guests including Mark Knopfler, Imogen Heap and Regina Spektor. He will also give his personal account of the groundbreaking Floating City game, which he describes as “a Dieselpunk dystopia . . . weary survivors of a global climate catastrophe bartering and trading to stay alive in the face of techno-piracy and mutant squid attacks!”
More than five thousand players played the online game, forming into nine “tribes” and competing for the grand prize — a free private concert by Dolby and his band from his new album.
Along the way they explored a fictional world based on characters and places in Thomas’ lyrics going all the way back to 1980; and discovered downloadable MP3 files of his songs, including sneak previews of works from his upcoming album.
Dolby will retell the player-created stories that unfolded during the 12 weeks of gameplay, highlighting key characters’ profiles, and the “patent applications” they filed to protect themselves against the unpredictable freak events reported by The Floating City Gazette. And he’ll share behind-the-scenes insights into the production process, which took place over the course of an eight-month period using a team of developers in different time zones who never met face to face.
November will see a full live concert tour of the U.K. by Thomas and his band, and a theater/performing arts center tour of the USA will follow in early 2012, along with selected festival dates later in the year.
Prior to The Floating City game and the new album A Map of the Floating City, Dolby is known for his hits “She Blinded Me with Science,” “Hyperactive,” “Europa” and “Airhead.” He also wrote Lene Lovich’s “New Toy” and Whodini’s “Magic Wand.” He is presently musical director of the TED Conference.
THOMAS DOLBY TOUR:
THE FLOATING CITY: A Dieselpunk Dystopia
new album coming Oct 25th
Mon., Oct. 3 WASHINGTON D.C. Sirius XM The Loft
Thurs., Oct. 6 NEW YORK, NY 92 Y Tribeca
Fri. Oct. 7 CHICAGO Martyrs’
Mon., Oct. 10 SEATTLE, WA Triple Door
Wed., Oct. 12 PORTLAND, OR KINK-FM Concert
Thurs., Oct. 13 SAN FRANCISCO, CA Bimbo's 365 Club
Fri,. Oct. 14 LOS ANGELES, CA Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Mon,. Oct. 17 LOS ANGELES, CA Grammy Museum
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2011
THOMAS DOLBY PREPARES
FIRST NEW STUDIO ALBUM IN 20 YEARS,
A MAP OF THE FLOATING CITY, AVAILABLE OCTOBER 25
Release follows conclusion of groundbreaking transmedia game
Guests include guest artists Mark Knopfler, Regina Spektor, Natalie MacMaster, Bruce Woolley and Imogen Heap.
LONDON, U.K. — Thomas Dolby, the iconic ’80s star whose smash hits “She Blinded Me With Science” and “Hyperactive” helped define the MTV generation/revolution, will break his 20-year silence with a new release later this year titled A Map of the Floating City. The album, featuring appearances by special guest artists Mark Knopfler, Regina Spektor, Natalie MacMaster, Bruce Woolley and Imogen Heap, will be available on October 25, 2011 on Lost Toy People Records as a regular and hi-res download, as a physical CD, and in a special Deluxe Edition featuring a second disc of instrumentals and bonus tracks.
The five-time Grammy®-nominated British artist quit the music business in the early ’90s and spent many years in Silicon Valley, where his tech company Beatnik Inc. created the ringtone synthesizer embedded in more than three billion mobile phones shipped by Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and others. Now retired from Beatnik, Dolby has returned to his native U.K. and is busy recording an album of brand new songs in a renewable energy-powered studio he built aboard a 1930s lifeboat in the garden of his beach house on England’s North Sea coast.
Of the album, which is divided into three parts, Dolby says, “The new songs are organic and very personal. A Map of the Floating City is a travelogue across three imaginary continents: In Amerikana I’m reflecting with affection on the years I spent living in the U.S.A., and my fascination with its roots music. Urbanoia is a dark place, a little unsettling . . . I’m not a city person. And in Oceanea I return to my natural home on the windswept coastline.”
“I marvel at the new landscape of the music business — distribution via the Internet and recording technologies I barely dreamed of when I started out,” he continues. “But this album does not sound electronic at all. I have zero desire to add to the myriad of machine-based, synth-driven grooves out there. The Net has made a music career approachable for thousands of bands — but I hear too few single-minded voices among them, so I’m returning to what I do best, which is write songs, tell stories.”
To help tell his stories, Dolby has enlisted an impressive cast of guest musicians. Legendary guitarist Mark Knopfler helps drive the epic “17 Hills,” a song about a pair of hapless lovers and a jailbreak. Natalie MacMaster, the Cape Breton fiddler, adds spice to two songs. Scottish singer Eddi Reader takes a front seat on the ethereal “Oceanea.” Bruce Woolley (Camera Club) plays theremin. And Regina Spektor has a cameo as an East European waitress on “Evil Twin Brother.”
The innovative transmedia game The Floating City http://www.floatingcity.com, co-created by Dolby and based on his song catalog all the way back to the 1980s, is currently in full swing and is proving highly addictive for thousands of regular players. The winning “tribe” will be treated to a private concert performance of the new album in its entirety. Thomas Dolby will shortly announce a string of concert dates in the U.S. and U.K. in support of the album.
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