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Episode 200 – Thomas Dolby

Virtual Memories Show #200: Thomas Dolby

“I’m never happier than when I’m out in my converted lifeboat studio staring out over the North Sea, playing with sounds. I prefer sounds to people.”

Two-hundred episodes!? Who’d’a thunk it? My guest for this special anniversary show is musician, tech entrepreneur, professor and now memoirist Thomas Dolby! We talk about his new book, The Speed of Sound: Breaking the Barriers Between Music and Technology: A Memoir, the upsides and downsides of his major careers, the gestalt of artist-artwork-audience, his curious mixture of shyness and arrogance, our respective imposter syndromes, teaching music for films, moving beyond the keyboard as a computer interface, having students who don’t know about his music career, looking back at his life and starting to figure out the big picture, and meeting the one rock band that doesn’t find Spinal Tap funny. (Jump to 7:00 to skip my intro.) Give it a listen! And go buy Thomas Dolby’s memoir, The Speed of Sound!

“I don’t write relationship lyrics. I don’t write typical pop lyrics. I start where typical pop lyrics leave off. The obsessions that I have, about geography, history, the planet, about technologies and their faults, about parallel worlds, and about my role in those worlds as a dissident: that seems to be what connects with a certain type of person.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

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About our Guest

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 had 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. He lives in England with his family.

There’s a more extensive bio at his faculty page at Johns Hopkins.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at the Mr. Dolby’s home in Baltimore on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of me and Thomas Dolby by his wife, Kathleen Beller. It’s on my instagram.

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