|Martin Lindhe is still waiting for the fairy tale ending.
He came to America for a girl. He stays for another. His music and his iconic online status have produced great sums of wealth yet he's swamped with tax bills and gave up meaty digs for a modest apartment in the outskirts of Seattle.
Martin is the one man show behind Bassic but there's nothing bassic about Martin. He was born in Sweden in 1971 into a musical family. When his older sisters weren't force feeding him funk or disco or the latest Electric Light Orchestra offering he was being reminded of his lineage. He is the great grandson of famed Swedish pianist and late Romantic era composer Wilhelm Stenhammar.
A wild child who rode dirt bikes and horses with the same fervor of reckless abandon in his youth he finally came into his own musically in his early teens when he discovered the electronic music of Kraftwerk, Vangelis, Mike Oldfield and Jean Michel Jarre.
But his melodic DNA didn't yield musical fruit until he turned 19 and began to dabble with electronic musical instruments. "Before that," he says, "the stories and the music lived inside somewhere, tucked away."
His life took an eventful turn in 1998 when he was reviewing software for Macworld Magazine. It was love at first videoconference as Martin was smitten by an American woman that was participating in the conference call stateside. A year later he was in America and they were married. A year after that they gave birth to a daughter, Hannah Linnea Lindhe. The marriage soured in 2002 but he stays in the country for the sake of Hannah.
In that time Martin became one of the Internet's most popular recording artists. It started off as a fluke. When he left Sweden he sold off everything he owned. Every piece of gear. Every CD in his extensive collection. Gone. He uploaded his music to MP3.com as a form of storage. It was who he was. It was where he came from.
But it didn't long for listeners to discover Martin's ambient and new age past. At a loss to explain the phenomenon of his success Martin did what any barren artist in the limelight would do -- he bought new gear.
Since 1999 Martin has amassed just over $200,000 as a result of music licensing deals, stream royalties, CD sales and legal settlements from those who have used his works without going through the proper channels. He's been on the receiving end of 15 different infringement settlements from companies over one song -- Seduction. Martin has garnered just over 6.5 million plays and downloads on MP3.com and has sold 6,000 CDs.
He still keeps his day job as Creative Director at gear-maker Mackie. That's a good thing. Between the costly divorce and the taxman angling for past profits Martin has gone from closing on a Victorian homestead to living out of a small apartment where he has chosen to go without furniture for the sake of building a killer recording studio.
It's there where he writes. Sometimes he's inspired by the rich cinematic textures found in the celluloid pockets of epics like Bladerunner and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Other times even the simplest of moods will kick start the composing process.
"Inspiration seems to come from everything and nothing," he says. "It's always there it seems. I don't think I have ever sat down without instantly having inspiration, automatically."
Playing to a fan base that others would spend a lifetime of touring to build, his collection of classy electronica can only be experienced online. Martin doesn't play live outside of his recording studio. Home is where his heart is. Last time he left, it broke.
So maybe this is the way the fairy tale ends. A collection of synthesizers, mixing boards and Apple computers can be furniture. A two-year-old girl can be the love of your life. While some of the revenue streams that Martin relied on have dried up, others are just starting to fill up. A major label record deal? A trip back to Sweden? A new, wider audience to compose for? Yes, Martin can still live happily ever after.
In closing, we'll play Ten Questions with Martin Lindhe:
1. Electronic music was a major part of the online indie revolution in the early years. Why do you think that was?
Oh that's easy: computer geeks like ekectronic gizmos. Electronic gizmos make electronic music.
2. Favorite E.L.O. song?
3. Three things you miss about Sweden?
My family, my friends and socialized medicine.
4. Three things you'll miss about America if you eventually move back to Sweden?
Hmm... 24-hour grocery stores, drive-thru's and internet connection speeds.
5. Wildest fan e-mail that you ever got?
"A full bubble bath accompanied by your music has yielded some of the freakiest sexual encounters with some of the hottest women i have ever met. Martin, I owe you more than you could ever know. "
6. It's 2008. What's Martin doing?
Composing full time and spending lots of time with my then 8-year old daughter... :)
7. Ever tried to give an electronic bent to any of your great-grandfather's compositions?
I wish. I couldn't even dream of playing any of his work. It's too complicated, and I can't even read music to play twinkle twinkle little star... I can barely play my own tunes :)
8. What's on your computer desk right now?
Mac G4, Cinema Display, a firewire drive, HDRPro (transferring some tunes), a pair of Mackie Hr824 speakers, a crappy PC, phone and four overdue advertisement drafts.
9. It's 2008. What are the online music distributors doing?
It's all online subscription, all the time. Every tune available in the world - published or unpublished - is available instantly anywhere.
10. John Tesh and Yanni break into a fistfight at a local pub. Who wins and why?
I wouldn't know, because I am not sure who John Tesh is. Should I? :)
In March of 2004 Martin signed a digitial distribution and recording contract with Digital Musicworks International. Congratulations, Martin!
-- Rick Munarriz