As a London teenager, Thomas Robertson was fascinated with the convergence of music and technology. His experiments with an assortment of keyboards, synthesizers and cassette players led his friends to dub him “Dolby”. That same fascination later drove him to become an electronic musician and multimedia artist whose groundbreaking work fused music with computer technology and video.
Thomas began his performing career beneath the streets of Paris, playing his synthesizer-based songs in the Metro subway. The advent of MTV brought him increased exposure: His well-produced and intelligent videos stood out from the pack, and his songs “She Blinded Me with Science” and “Hyperactive” became huge hits. Numerous awards and five Grammy nominations later, Thomas had achieved worldwide recognition as an artist. His two decades of innovations in the area of computer music and software have greatly impacted the sound of today’s popular music.
While Thomas continued to pursue his own creative endeavors, he was also courted by the developers of synthesizers, audio software and computer games to help them improve the audio capabilities of their products. Noticing that existing audio software was linear, Thomas sought to create software that would make music and sound truly interactive. With the advent of the Web, he found the perfect media for interactive audio.
Beatnik became the embodiment of Thomas’ vision. He built the company around a team of musically savvy engineers and technically astute musicians, and secured top management and funding. Today, the same passion and vision that first drew a teenage Thomas Robertson to music and technology is at the core of Beatnik.
In July 1998, Thomas received a Lifetime Achievement in Internet Music award from Yahoo! Internet Life magazine. An honor, to be sure - yet when it comes to fusing music and technology on the Web, Thomas believes that both he and the industry have much more to achieve.
In 2006, Dolby appeared again on the music scene with his first solo performances in over a decade; performing critically acclaimed shows in the US, Canada, England and Ireland.
Dolby breaks his 20-year silence with A Map of the Floating City (2011). The album, featuring appearances by special guest artists Mark Knopfler, Regina Spektor, Natalie MacMaster, Bruce Woolley, Imogen Heap and Eddi Reader, was released on Lost Toy People Records as a physical CD, and in a special Deluxe Edition featuring a second disc of instrumentals and bonus tracks.
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.’’