Drowned In Sound has published an interview with synth pop pioneer Thomas Dolby.
In the interview, Dolby shares some fantastic stories, like this one:
I remember word going around that the UK branch of the Musician’s Union was going to vote on a motion to ban synthesizers. A friend of mine from a band called Landscape told me this, and said we had to get some people down there because they were actually going to put it to the vote. The motion that was on the table was that synthesizers would be banned altogether, because they were taking work away from musicians. So ten of us went down there, one row of about 30, 40 people, and the rest of the people were like, out of work flugelhorn players, people who occasionally did West End musicals, and they were all half asleep. Each of the ten of us in turn got up and spoke very passionately and very articulately about how we felt it was progress and it was a good thing, and ultimately would lead to more work for musicians. Then it went to the vote and it got voted in! The British Musician’s Union had banned synthesizers! I think it was only afterwards that the executive manager of the Musician’s Union realised how impossible it would be to implement, so it was sort of swept under the carpet and we never heard about it again.
One thought on “Thomas Dolby Interview”
Synthesizers were progress, but the British union musicians were right. Professional employment prospects for musicians have decreased with every new technological innovation in the 20th century. First it was talking movies, which killed about half the jobs in the 1920’s. Guitars killed the big band, ditto on employment. Synthesizers and midi killed the studio business. Illegal downloads killed the record industry etc.
I’m no geezer, but I remember 6 nights a week employment and a decent standard of living for journeymen musicians. Now it is much harder.
Oh, and I play synthesizer passionately and well, though no longer professionally.