Archive for the 'Podcasts' Category

And so ends the Amerikana era….

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

The ‘Toadlickers’ music video came out, made a lot of noise,  reached #18 in the YouTube ‘most viewed’ chart, got a lot more views, then rapidly vanished from the chart altogether! I think this was a YouTube admin move because of its ‘explicit’ content (puppets having sex; and an offensive word meaning ‘born out of wedlock.’) C’mon YouTube, cut me some slack. Even the Pope is lightening up these days!

This reminds me a little of the year I got to #2 in the Guatemalan singles chart… and the following week there was a military coup and the chart was not published.

Shotgun pop music. Most appropriate for ‘Toadlickers’, I think. And so ends the Amerikana era… except for one small detail: I never released the 17 Hills ‘dissection’ vlogs. So here they are, parts 1-3! And, if you can sit still right till the very end, there’s some exciting and definitive news about the Oceanea EP.

Part 1 looks at how we recorded the 17 Hills backing track, and overdubbed fretless bass and pedal steel.
Part 2 focuses on the day I spent with Mark Knopfler doing the guitar parts, and how to give direction to a demigod.
Part 3 talks about Ethel, Natalie MacMaster, and how I came up with the song in the first place.

Hope you enjoy these!

Top 10 reasons today is a fabulous day:

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Thomas Dolby
Pic: Richard Skidmore

1. Sun is out, steady gentle breeze.
2. The Nutmeg is generating LOTS of power, feel I could run the whole village off it.
3. Sitting in my wheelhouse editing 10 takes of Natalie MacMaster‘s delightful fiddle playing.
4. Engraver called to tell me some tiny brass plaques I ordered for my wooden sailboat are ready to pick up. ‘Jib’/'spi’/'cunn’/'kick’ etc. Will row out and do some drilling before this evening’s Loch Long race.
5. A sand artist I contacted in Isreal may be interested in working with me.
6. Booked an Eddi Reader vocal session in Glasgow next month.
7. Limbs aching satisfyingly after windsurfing and tennis yesterday.
8. Pot of Earl Grey just brewed.
9. My Wired Playlist Podcast is up on iTunes, featuring 2 1/2 brand new songs!
10. Reading enthusiastic feedback to 9, to my new singles album Singular, and to the track listing on the upcoming GAOW and TFE re-releases.

'Sputnik And Beyond' video online

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007


(top to bottom: Bruce Woolley; Thomas Dolby; Ken Hollings and Lydia Kavina)

On Oct 3rd 2007 I took part in a performance entitled ‘Sputnik And Beyond’ at the ICA in London, along with The Radio Science Orchestra. You can download video of the concert at the bottom of this blog entry.

This was a one-off concert to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 1, the first man-made satellite successfully launched into space. My friend David Hoffman, a documentary filmmaker, had recently premiered his full-length movie ‘Sputnik Mania’ (previously entitled ‘The Fever of ’57) and he was kind enough to allow me to use footage and entire edited sequences from his film, to project at the ICA. The Radio Science Orchestra arranged and performed a live soundtrack, with commentary provided by pop culturist/DJ/sci-fi writer Ken Hollings.

The RSO is a UK-based electronic collective, on this occasion consisting of musicians:-

Bruce Woolley (Theremin and ring modulator)

Lydia Kavina (Theremin)

Joy Smith (Harp, Dulcimer)

Andy Visser (Flute, tenor and baritone saxophone, keyboards)

Kit Woolley (Moog Voyager and ring modulator)

….also guesting (on ‘Thunderbirds’) were my UK horn section:

Kevin Robinson—trumpet

Fayyaz Virgi—trombone

Ian Kirkham—sax

We put the show together very hurriedly, in the couple of days off I had between my autumn US and UK tours. It features some original music, a few covers, a little Debussy, and some ‘recycled’ film score music from my other movie projects. For the duet by me and Bruce, I wrote music and some lyrics in English that were kindly translated into Russian by Melissa Jordan. The goal was to showcase the idea of a live Sputnik performance, with a view to interesting some promoters, arts centres, museums, universities etc in a larger scale Sputnik tour in 2008. So if you fall into that category and want to talk to me about it, please post a Comment below and let’s talk.

I invited three volunteers from my Forum (Lindon Lait, Clive Radford, and Nathan Toms—thank you!) to bring video cameras and tape the performance, and they sent in their footage to me afterwards. We also recorded the mixed audio off the front of house PA feed, though this was not working for the first couple of minutes. I put all the content in Final Cut Pro (a Mac video app that should be called Final Cut Amateur in my case) and I did an edit. Of course, the lighting was not optimal for performance, projection and cameras; and the sound mix was not intended for video. But having got those caveats out of the way, I am pleased to offer you the following clips for your enjoyment. If someone out there is a YouTube contributor, perhaps you could work with me to upload these clips there, with the correct format and credits, before someone else does it wrong! I have broken it up into four parts, totalling about 30 minutes. The clips are in .mov format, which should work on Macs and PCs provided you have the latest QuickTime Player. You can view them in your browser window but you’ll probably be best off downloading the four individual parts (~40Mb each) and watch them in sequence.


New podcast online!

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

The last and final ‘bonus’ podcast of the Sole Inhabitant era is currently online! It was shot by Jon Luini of Chime Interactive at our release party at the Red Devil Lounge in San Francisco back in November. It features some rehearsal footage with my new brass section; a guest spot by a member of Smash Mouth; and interviews with some Dolby fans outside the venue. But beware–it’s 23 mins long and 123Mb in size, so be VERY patient while your browser downloads it. (It took about 43 minutes on my DSL wi-fi network!)

All you yuppie metrosexuals out there, it’s just about the right length to load onto your video iPod before a good workout on the elliptical treadmill.

New podcast series!

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

My fabulous multimedia team has been busting ass 24/7 and tonight I’m proudly launching a new weekly video podcast series that will last well into… well… the foreseeable future!

Tonight we release the first in the series, which includes a personal intro I shot on my iSight, as well as excerpts from my soon to be released DVD, ‘The Sole Inhabitant.’

If you have a video iPod you can subscribe to the series via RSS. If you don’t, you can still view the episodes on your PC just by clicking on the link.

We’ll be updating the series every week. Future episodes will feature footage that’s not even available on the DVD, including video footage from the show at Martyrs in Chicago in May of this year.

You can download the first episode here and watch it in your browser. Or subscribe to the podcast series through iTunes!

feed-icon16x16.pngRSS subscription feed via other podcatchers.

large podcast promo

Preparing for the DVD

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Life’s been so busy! I know I’m usually rude about them (and a lot of it is justified) but putting out a DVD and CD without any record label help is a lot more work than I anticipated. Here’s a list of what I’ve been up to this week:

-Editing a 60 minute interview down to 30 minutes

-Chopping pieces out of my lecture/clinic at Berklee College of Music to use as ‘Special Features’

-Creating legal documents to clear the video rights, FedExing them around the country

-Meeting with potential online marketing companies and settling on InGrooves

-Meeting with podcasting/video podcasting companies

-Mixing the soundtrack for a separate CD

-Working on the sleeve design with the artwork/layout person Dorian Leslie

-Finalizing the sleeve notes with music journalist Kurt B. Reighley

-Setting up album sales accounts at CDBaby, Amazon and elsewhere

-working with my agent to tie down 18-20 concerts between Thanksgiving and Christmas

-Psyching myself up for a possible live national TV appearance in just over a month!

It’s all going extremely well, but I am close to overwhelmed. I think next time I will treat myself to a personal assistant, at the very least. And maybe a personal trainer, masseuse, and chef.

Suffice to say that I think ‘The Sole Inhabitant’ DVD and CD will be a fantastic thing! It’s going wrap up what’s been a great year for me, and provide an excellent look back at the first 30 years of my music; and it will draw a line in the sand beyond which lies… NEW music.


[Pic: Mark Owens]

Canal Room video

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

Ross Leung shot some great video footage last week at my concert at The Canal Room in NYC. Here’s a clip from it: ‘I Live In A Suitcase.’ It’s all a single handheld shot, so it’s a little less sophisticated than the Sole Inhabitant DVD will be in November. But feel free to download and redistribute, and if you have a video iPod, it’s already in the right format.



TED conference online

Monday, August 21st, 2006

I haven’t talked much about the TED Conference, an annual event in Monterey California. I have been its Music Director for the last 5 years, and it’s been a fantastic experience. Up until now it was pretty inaccessible to mere mortals, given that the tickets are expensive and usually sold out a year in advance. I always found it a hard thing to explain to the uninitiated, but this year TED has begun podcasting selected sessions from the conference, so I recommend you check it out. You can now download clips of talks given by some of the most brilliant minds on the planet to an audience of their peers, with no constraints from government or corporate agendas. You can watch them on your computer or iPod. I even have a friend in LA who has never attended, but who has started throwing spontaneous TED parties at her place, where a bunch of friends or workmates come over and watch a few TED presentations on her plasma screen.

You can get the TEDtalk podcasts here.

The music I put together for the show varies from year to year. I try to be relevant to the topics we’re covering. I book talent to play live music in between the talks; sometimes it’s world-class acts, other times it’s complete unknowns I’ve discovered in my travels. We have a partnership with Joe’s Pub (the New York venue I played last Spring) that allows us to try acts out there and pick the ones we think would work well at TED.

In addition, I play original music myself to set the tone for each of the 12-some sessions over the four days of the TED Conference. Some years I’ve played a solo instumental piece to introduce each two-hour session; one year I had an excellent 4-piece house band; in 2005 I debuted my ‘sonifications’; and this year I performed with a pair of graffitti artists who painted the titles to each session while I built up looped tracks from scratch.

One of the presenters this year was Peter Gabriel, who was there to talk about a cause that’s dear to his heart. I’d met Peter before and found him very affable, so I took the liberty of sampling one of his most famous tunes and mashing it up with a new piece of my own. The session was entitled ‘The World Flattens’ so I triggered some sound bytes from my own Flat Earth Lecture. I think Peter was sitting in the front row when I played it. As TED is for a good cause I’m sure Peter won’t mind if I put a recording of my performance up online!

[Edit, Aug 22nd] 

However, after sleeping on it, I decided I don’t feel comfortable putting the MP3 up there, given how miffed I was when K-Fed essentially did the same thing to me. I don’t want to be a hypocrite so I’ve taken the track down. Those few of you that listened it yesterday or this morning–I hope you relished the experience!

Ryuichi Sakamoto / 'Windpower' podcast

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

In 1985 I worked with Ryuichi Sakamoto, and have stayed friendly with him ever since. He is one of Japan’s finest musicians, a music professor who started in the pop world as the leader of Yellow Magic Orchestra before establishing a phenomenal solo career. He wrote the beautiful, perennial ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’ score (and co-starred in it with Bowie) and went on to win an Oscar for Best Score in ‘The Last Emperor.’ The record and video I made with him are hard to find but worth the search–the song’s called ‘Field Work.’


Ryuichi contacted me a couple weeks ago about an issue that is troubling to him. In Northern Japan there is a nuclear reactor about to open outside the small town of Rokkasho. It has been measured to have potential levels of radioactivity way in excess of anything remotely safe or acceptable. For some reason the Japanese media are not paying attention to it. So Ryuichi has put together a web site where he and his artist friends from around the world have contributed music, words, photos and video clips to draw attention to this problem.

A few gigs ago we videotaped my live performance of ‘Windpower’ and I dedicated it to the people of Rokkasho. Today Ryuichi added the clip to his site, and it’s currently #2 in iTunes’ ‘political’ category. You can grab the podcast/download directly from the Stop Rokkasho site, or if you prefer you can get it here. Enjoy!

Video blogs

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

Hey, I’m thinking it might be nice to add an occasional vidblog/podcast to the site. I dashed this one off as a trial. It’s a clip from my song The Flat Earth at last February’s TED Conference (Technology, Entertainment and Design) and I’ve added a voiceover explaining what I’m doing–a bit like a ‘Director’s Cut.’

Download the clip. Try it on your computer. Try it on your video iPod if you have one. Let me know what you think. Is the quality good enough? Is the file size too big? Can you see my nose hairs?? etc etc. Click on the pic below to download the video clip. And thanks for being my guinea pig. It’s the only way to test how well our server holds up to multiple simultaneous 19.2mb downloads!