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Señor Coconut

 B i o g r a p h y

For an absurdly comic idea, Señor Coconut proved to have more than a single note at their - or perhaps his - disposal, managing two albums and even planning a U.S. tour. German DJ and producer Uwe Schmidt (aka Atom Heart™ or Atom™) had released dance music in his homeland under a number of different aliases during the first half of the 1990s. But he'd become bored with the European music scene and in 1996 transferred his base of operations to Chile in order to begin exploring the possibilities of Latin music, which was, he said, "a pretty much undiscovered planet to me. It unveils lots of interesting musical worlds to me." Adopting the ridiculous Señor Coconut moniker, he first cooked up El Gran Baile, a distinctly Latin-flavored groove-a-thon, and did a remix for former Deee-Lite turntablist Towa Tei.

Then he began to ponder the possibilities of a German-Latin fusion, and found his material in the unlikeliest of places - the greatest hits of man-machine band Kraftwerk, best-known for their very inhuman, unemotional approach to music - the very opposite of Latin passion. The result was El Baile Alemán. Although credited to Señor Coconut y Su Conjunto, it was purely the work of Schmidt and three vocalists, who took the Kraftwerk machine ideal and tipped it on its head, putting in programmed cumbia, merengue, and salsa rhythms to flavor the Teutonic stew. Released as a one-off in 2000, it received a fair amount of critical acclaim in the U.S., more than Schmidt had received for any of his other work. In March 2001, Señor Coconut - now a real eight-piece band - was set to undertake a short headlining tour in North America, but visa problems for some of the Chilean musicians forced a cancellation.

Chris Nickson, All Music Guide

* * *

One of the alter egos used by Uwe Schmidt (b. Germany), a Chile-based electronica artist who has recorded over 140 albums under a variety of pseudonyms such as Atom Heart, LB, Geez 'N' Gosh, Eric Satin, Los Samplers and Tea Time and who claims to have relocated to South America to "disconnect from the European influence on music". Schmidt is a co-founder of NG Medien, a label manufacturing and distributing audio tapes of diverse electronic projects. In 1994, he founded the Rather Interesting imprint to develop releases "apart from existing paths of electronic music" and to issue recordings by his own multiple identities.

Schmidt's debut under the Señor Coconut moniker, 1997's El Gran Baile, was a Latin-tinged take on drum 'n' bass, after a vision of the alternate identity came to him while bedridden with influenza. In a move that was close to genius, Señor Coconut's second album re-imagined Kraftwerk's greatest hits as a Latin album, versioning iconic tracks such as "Trans-Europe Express", "The Robots" and "The Man Machine" as cumbia, merengues, bakláns and cha-cha-chas. The original, finely tuned motor and synthesizers on "Autobahn", meanwhile, were replaced by a dodgy ignition and airy accordions. "El Baile Alemán turns Ralf and Florian upside down, yet unveils through perfect craftmanship the true nature of Kraftwerk's compositions", read a sleeve note on the not-quite-mere-novelty album. Far from being created by Latin musicians, however, El Baile Alemán was actually as machine-made as Kraftwerk's originals: the album was entirely programmed and featured no "real" musicians. Rather Schmidt tried to interpret Kraftwerk's songs by imagining how a real Latin band would perform them. Kraftwerk, meanwhile, were apparently impressed with the release although they are reported to have demanded that Schmidt's version of "Radio-Activity" was dropped from the album.

On 2003's Fiesta Songs, Schmidt decided on a popular batch of tunes and continued the performance with interpretations of Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water", Sade's "Smooth Operator", Elton John's "Blue Eyes", the Doors' "Riders On The Storm", Jean-Michel Jarre's "Oxygene", and Michael Jackson's "Beat It".

Encyclopedia of Popular Music
Copyright Muze UK Ltd. 1989 - 2004

Official Homepage: www.senor-coconut.com

 A l b u m s

Tour de France (multiColor Recordings, 2000)
El Baile Aleman (multiColor Recordings, 2000)
Gran Baile (multiColor Recordings, 2000)
Fiesta Songs (multiColor Recordings, 2003)
Coconut FM (Essay Recordings, 2005)
Yellow Fever! (Essay Recordings, 2006)
Fine Songs & Rare Versions (multiColor Recordings, 2006)
Around the World (Pias Recording, 2008)

as Atom Heart:
Second Nature (Submeta Productions, 1996)

with Flanger:
Midnight Sound (Ntone Records, 2000)
Outer Space / Inner Space (Ntone Records, 2001)