Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

The Floating City Game begins!

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

With immense pride I can announce that The Floating City Game is launching at this moment!

 

It’s been a huge undertaking, and I’m deeply indebted to the game designers, programmers, artists, and writers who built it for me and made a vision come to life. This is a grand scheme and will set the tone for my new album, which will follow the conclusion of the game.

 


Watch the video below then go play the game! http://www.floatingcity.com

 

And if you don’t consider yourself a gamer, you can just subscribe to the Floating City Gazette here and be a passive observer! http://www.floatingcity.com/gazette/

 

All the best,

 

Thomas

 

 

Two (and a half?) gigs in July

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

I will be making a couple of concert appearances at the end of July along with my friends The Pirate Twins. It’ll be a short electronic set featuring some 80s classics and (possibly!) a sneak preview of a brand new track from my upcoming album A Map of the Floating City. The lineup will be:

TMDR — keyboards and vocals

Andrew Down — keyboards

Darren Goldsmith — bass, synth

Mat Hector — electronic drums and samples

Here are the dates:

July 27th or 28th — Possible ‘secret’ public dress rehearsal at a venue in or near London. The other two are quite expensive so if you prefer, you can attend our last rehearsal in an intimate setting. I’ll probably be stopping and starting as I did at the Union Chapel.

July 29th — Vintage at the Southbank, Royal Festival Hall, London

This is part of a 3-day festival encompassing several different eras of music and culture. It’ll be hosted by Martyn Ware of Human League/Heaven 17, and also features Alan Wilder (ex-Depeche Mode)’s band Recoil.

July 30th — Green Gathering 2011, at Chepstow, Monmouthsire

Formerly known as BGG, this is a long-standing summer festival event that celebrates alternative energy and lifestyles. We’ll be playing on a stage powered entirely by renewable energy, and the following day (July 31st around 1pm) I’ll also be giving a short talk about my solar-powered lifeboat studio. I’m looking forward to camping with a couple of my kids for the weekend and checking out the cool innovations and wacky outfits!

Feels like it’s time to warm up my gig chops and start thinking about a full scale tour! I expect to be doing around 20 shows in  the US and a half dozen in the UK before the end of the year. I’d love to also visit Australia, Japan and Europe, but this depends on a number of factors.

 

 

The Prince of Crim Tartary

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

I loved this childhood reminiscence from my sister Lucy. We were never big on photography in my family, but though a photo of this (circa late 1940s–early 1950s) would have been fascinating, the image that her words conjure up is almost as good; especially for my older siblings, who remember the magic of it all.

“Re: The Prince of Crim Tartary’s costume

“At Iken there was a big double sitting room which could be divided into two by curtains. A table was put on the ‘audience’ side, with a stool on top of it. Two adults stood behind the centre of the curtain, one behind the other. The front adult made the prince’s feet with his/her hands, and the prince’s head and body. The back adult put his/her arms through under the armpits of the front adult, to make the prince’s arms and hands. He sat cross-legged on the stool, and at the end of the performance one of the children in the audience took the stool away and the prince remained miraculously seated on thin air. It was lovely , as I remember, and it took me a long time to realise that the fact that two adults were always unexpectedly called away on the day the prince was due to come had something to do with it!”

Two Webby Award nominations today!

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

My video for ‘Toad Lickers’ received two Webby(tm) Award nominations today, in the Music category!

If you’ve got a minute, go here and look at the 5 contenders, and vote the whichever you consider to be the most worthy. I’m serious, if you don’t think mine is the best, no pressure. (But if you don’t vote for ‘Toad Lickers’ I will PERSONALLY come over to your house and sprinkle anthrax on your windowboxes.)

Webby Award voting http://tinyurl.com/6edw5pj

Floating Hotel

Monday, January 17th, 2011

I blogged about the massive wind farm that is being constructed in the North Sea within (occasional) view of my wheelhouse. There are currently 56 turbines up out of a planned 141 – making this the biggest offshore windfarm in Britain.

The workers on the windfarm stay on a huge ‘floating hotel’ called the M/V Wind Ambition, moored several miles offshore. It accomodates hundreds of people, and has restaurants, a cinema and a gym. They must have a great time out there. I ought to play a gig on board! At night it is lit up like a Christmas tree. It reminds me of the beautiful ocean liner seen from the shore at the end of Fellini’s ‘Amarcord’.

Here come the Toadlickers

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

I just released my first music video of the 21st century! The Toadlickers is now live on YouTube. I’m expecting millions of new fans (is that a good thing? many of them probably found the video because they were searching for ‘naughty barnyard animals’) and I expect I’ll have to duck a barrage of rotten vegetables from the Puritans. But though it’s a little edgy, it’s not fun at anyone else’s expense, and no puppets were harmed in the making of the video.

I’m very grateful to all the volunteers who showed up at Maverick in the Summer and helped us out. Paul D directed and edited the clip, and did a terrific job on a rock-bottom budget.Paul and Barbara Ann of the Maverick Festival for slipping us in to the back barn, where we got the clip in the can before anyone was able to call Health and Safety. To the top UK Parkour crew Urban Freeflow for fabulous stunts. Also to the amazing Mike Quinn, long-time friend and fan who’s one of the top puppeteers in the business. To Darren Goldsmith, who made a neat ‘behind the scenes’ video that you can also see on YouTube. And to Sophie St Villier and Millie Dollar our lovely lingerie-clad cowgirls, and to my band for their patience and good humour.

This kicks off an exciting week for me. Mid-week I’ll be releasing the final vlog of the ‘Amerikana’ era, dissecting 17 Hills, and that wraps up Part 1 of the album. Next week I’ll be putting out the Oceanea EP which — believe me — is a whole new ballgame. And next weekend I’m going into Real World Studios to record a couple of backing tracks for new songs that will be included in the Urbanoia section of the album.

It’s been busy as heck around here but life couldn’t be better. I’m surrounded by a wonderfully supportive family, a team with exceptional showbiz chops, and the most tasteful, discerning, and loyal audience I could possibly ask for. Hooray!

Windfarm

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

For months, I’ve been seeing the strangest vessels heading out across the North Sea from a nearby port. Giant semi-immersible cranes, tugs towing impossible structures. I knew there was a wind farm going up somewhere out there. A few weeks ago I thought I glimpsed something through the mist on the horizon. But today I woke up to a line of low dark clouds to the East, and below them a strip of bright sunlight, framing perfectly a line of maybe 15 windmills, visible to the naked eye.

I love that they’re out there. And that I can only see them when atmospheric conditions are just right. I even love that people all over the world are dissing wind farms, saying they are not efficient, slaughter wildlife, and eventually smash themselves to pieces. Those people are just shoing their ignorance and lack of imagination. Because we’re just at the beginning of the renewable energy era. Of course out first efforts are not all going to be perfect. That’s the way things evolve. In Detroit in 1920 there were 1500 automobile firms; some of them made cars will a tiller instead of a steering wheel.

We’re living on a planet that has perpetual sunshine from the massive star we’re orbitting. We have daily tides that the moon will never stop driving. Winds generated from weather systems, from temperature differentials, and even from the spinning of the Earth at the Equator where it spins fastest. We’re on a planet with a molten core. We have clueless politicians yes, but we also have brilliant scientists who will think up unheard-of ways to bend this natural energy to serve us, without depleting our resources; and wonderful artists, musicians and poets, who will dream big, imagining a beautiful future for our children, despite all the evidence that says they’re doomed.

Get ready for TEDx Aldeburgh Music on Nov 6th

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

On November 6th I’ll be hosting an exciting TEDxAldeburghMusic event at the Snape Maltings in Suffolk, UK, home of the Aldeburgh Music festival, featuring an excellent lineup of performers including Imogen Heap, William Orbit, Martyn Ware, Tim Exile and Tod Machover.

I’ve written a lot about the TED Conference here over the last few years, but in case you didn’t know, I’m TED’s music director, which means I help select and book the musical performers for the events, as well as providing the House Band. TED now has two regular annual events, the main one in Long Beach in Feb/March, and TEDGlobal in Oxford in July. A year ago we launched TEDx, ‘an independently organised TED event’, which enables any community or venue to stage their own mini-TED conference, within certain guidelines. TEDx events must be not-for-profit, and can use a quota of pre-recorded TED talks; but you must bring in your own speakers, video their talks, and send the results back to TED.com for possible inclusion on the main site. There has been an astonishing response to TEDx program over the last year with over 1500 events taking place all around the world.

Aldeburgh Music is an organisation that hosts the Aldeburgh Festival of mainly classical music. It was set up in the 1950s by composer Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears. My mother was the first secretary of the Festival, when the audience was about 100 people and it took place in the Jubillee Hall in Aldeburgh. As it grew, a new venue was selected: The Maltings at Snape, a beautiful disused industrial building complex set in the reed marshes on the upper reaches of the Alde river. I have a family connection there too—my great-great-grandfather was the brewer Newson Garrett who built the Maltings in the mid-nineteenth century where his company loaded malt onto Thames sailing barges bound for London and the Continent. So I’ve been going there for as long as I can remember, and Kathleen and I got married there in 1988. I even remember watching its huge roof burn in a terrible accident one night in 1968. It was subsequently rebuilt, and is now better than ever, housing the Britten-Pears Music School, as well as several peripheral buildings including the newly completed Hoffman Building which is used for extra activities such as Faster Than Sound, a series of experimental electronic music events, performances and installations. The expansion has been brilliantly masterminded by Aldebugh Music’s dynamic CEO Jonathan Reekie.

As I’m now living close to Snape again with my family, Jonathan and I had been thinking it would be nice if I could get involved in Aldeburgh Music in some way. Keen to grow Aldeburgh’s scope beyond just performance of music, he was very interested in TED, and when the TEDx program started up it seemed like an ideal opportunity to put together something that might even turn into an annual event. So the idea for TEDxAldeburghMusic came about. Joana Seguro, who produces the Faster Than Sound series and runs multimedia company Lumin, was engaged as Producer, and the three of us began lining up speakers and refining the theme. After a few months of planning we settled on a date and a speaker lineup.

So I’m pleased to announce that on Nov 6th TEDxAldeburghMusic will take place at the Snape Maltings, Suffolk. It will be a day-long, all-music themed event, featuring live talks and performances by Imogen Heap, William Orbit, Tod Machover, Louis Lortie, Martyn Ware, Tim Exile, United Visual Artists, David Toop and others. You can read their biogs here. As is always the case with TED events, speakers have a maximum of 18 minutes onstage, which means that during the course of the day the audience will witness a rapid-fire succession of brilliant speakers and performers, with a diverse range of wild ideas that will hopefully blend into a coherent theme. The main areas covered will be the creative process; music software and hardware tools and techniques; music in the community; and the future of the music business itself. Mixing up talks, live music, demos and video, along with some of the musical higlights from the last few years of the main TED Conference, I’ll be introducing the program and (hopefully) tying it all together. It promises to be a great day.

The proceedings kick off at 10am and last until 5pm or later. TED events are very interactive, so bring your friends or make new ones. It’s perfectly ok at TED to continue and expand the ideas presented onstage via conversations with complete strangers in the foyer or in the lunch break. Tickets are a very reasonable £20  (£15 if you’re under 27) and you can buy them here.

More information at:

http://www.aldeburgh.co.uk/events/tedx-aldeburgh-music-ideas-worth-spreading-conference

Julian Lennon and the giant banana

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

For some reason a conversation I had with Julian Lennon years ago came to mind recently. (Sometimes I wonder if events and places from your distant past flash before your eyes right before they fall off the edge of your memory bank forever. That also happens to me with random intersections in cities I used to live in.)

Anyway we were talking about crazy fans. I told him the story of when I accidentally picked a volunteer out of the crowd at a lecture I was giving, who when I asked their name turned out to be a crazy fan I was actually quite scared of.

But Julian went one better. He told me he was doing a live TV show once in NY, David Letterman or the like. This was not that long after his dad’s death. He was sitting at the piano and in the middle of the song (I think it was ‘Saltwater’) a giant banana came and sat next to him on the piano stool. He assumed this was part of the TV production. But at the end of the song the banana produced a notepad and asked for his autograph. It was just some fan who had walked straight in off the street past Security.

Good tip for rock festivals: nobody asks to see your wristband when you’re dressed as a piece of fruit.

The origin of the Nutmeg

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I have asked Dave Clark’s permission to reprint this fascinating email he sent me regarding the possible origin of my lifeboat, the Nutmeg of Consolation. The only documentation I have concerning her parent ship is a certificate indicating that she belonged to the HMS Queen Ann. I knew this ship had been damaged by a German sub in WW2 but I didn’t know the details. Read on….

>>

Thomas,

Hello. I’m relatively new to the Flat Earth Society (actually I just joined) but I have been fascinated with your blogs…especially concerning your lifeboat/recording studio. You had written that she came from the HMS Queen Anne , a motor merchant ship built in 1937. I did some research on the Queen Anne and discovered some rare photos of her (see attached). She was anything but glamorous, but beautiful in her own right. Apparently she was a work-horse during her short life—not to mention solid, reliable, and beloved. It looks as though she had two lifeboats on the starboard side, however, the lifeboat in the forward position is smaller than that located behind it, but that may either be the camera angle or my eyes. On her port it looks as though she carried only one lifeboat; and this too looks like the larger one located at the same position on the starboard side. I believe that one of these two aft lifeboats is your Nutmeg of Consolation . If so, there is a fifty-percent chance that your boat was responsible for rescuing over a score of sailors after a German U-Boat attack.

The Queen Anne had left Manchester on 9 February 1943 with Master Charles Hicking Radford at her helm. She was bound for Beirut, Lebanon by way of Capetown, South Africa and was scheduled to make stops at the port of Aden (in today’s Yemen) and Alexandria, Egypt. She was carrying 6,126 tons of government stores and 698 tons of general cargo including explosives. She was never to reach her final destinations. Early in the morning of 10 February 1943, the Queen Anne was attacked by a German U-Boat, U-509, commanded by German naval Captain Werner Witte. Between 26 October 1942 and 2 April 1943, U-509 had attacked 9 British vessels, sinking 6 and damaging 3 others. The Queen Anne was the smallest vessel destroyed by Witte’s torpedoes (which, for some reason, makes me all the more proud of her). Witte attacked the Queen Anne just after her departure from Capetown and she descended to her watery grave just eight miles south-southwest of Cape Agulhas, South Africa.

After sinking the Queen Anne, U-509 was attacked by the ASW trawler St. Zeno . The St. Zeno opened fire on Captain Witte with both gunfire and seven depth charges…but to no avail. U-509 survived unscathed. The St. Zeno rescued 18 sailors from the Queen Anne. It is difficult to know for sure if the sailors were plucked from the water or from a lifeboat. It is certain, however, that 22 more survivors from the Queen Anne did make landfall—via lifeboat—at Bredasdorp near Cape Agulhas. Sadly, the Queen Anne’s master, Charles Radford, along with two crew members and two gunners were lost in the attack and are believed to have gone down with their ship. As for German Captain Witte, he was killed along with his entire crew, 54 men, in the mid-Atlantic on 15 July 1943 by homing torpedoes from “Avenger” aircraft belonging to the USS Santee.

When I look at the pictures of your beautiful Nutmeg of Consolation I only wish she could speak to you and tell you her stories. Perhaps her life was more exciting after 10 February 1943, but I doubt it. I see that since her tenure as a lifeboat she has taken on a both a cabin and wheelhouse and she is more lovely than ever. I once heard a quote long ago that if we ever find ourselves in a lifeboat we must remember to sing! How very ironic. As she looks out to the North Sea from her dry-land home, I don’t sense she misses it much—even when she sees the other ships float past. She did her duty. She sits proud with new paint and a new life. I know that you love her and care for her—perhaps better than she has ever been—and may she ever care for and inspire you! Take care.

Dave Clark

Annotated Bibliography:

The pictures of the Queen Anne were found at http://www.photoship.co.uk/. This fascinating site has four photographs of the Queen Anne as well as countless additional photos of hundreds (if not thousands) of other vessels. The site also includes links to additional databases. For the Queen Anne’s original entries in Lloyd’s Register of Ships see the searchable database at http://www.plimsollshipdata.org/ship.php?ship_id=33064&name=Queen Anne. There are copious amounts of online information regarding German U-Boats, but one of the best is at www.uboat.net. For information on U-509, Captain Werner Witte, and the Queen Anne please see http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/2646.html. More on Captain Witte and U-509 may be found in Rainer Busch and Hans-Joachim Roll’s German U-Boat Commanders of World War II: A Biographical Dictionary. This book details the service records of some 1,400 officers of the German Kriegsmarine. See page 291 for U-509.