Uwe Schmidt (a.k.a Atom™, Atom Heart, and Señor Coconut) is a celebrated and ceaselessly prolific electronic music producer working under an ever-changing array of pseudonyms and personalities.
Uwe Schmidt (1968) started out in Frankfurt in the mid-80s as a drummer and autodidactic programmer in various projects. In 1986 he co-founded N.G. Medien, a cassette tape label for diverse electronic music projects, and began releasing on vinyl and CD with his project Lassigue Bendthaus in the years that followed. His catalogue now includes works with and for artists such as Depeche Mode, Air, Bill Laswell, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Towa Tei, and others.
During the early to mid-90s, Schmidt produced dance music — techno, acid, and trance — under a number of monikers including one of the most well known to date, Atom Heart. He started his own label, Rather Interesting, in 1994 with the aim of developing a catalogue that "didn't follow the traditional paths of electronic music." His work explored electronic music from almost every angle, from the hypnotic minimal house of I, the machine aesthetic of Dos Tracks, the Latin-infused Erik Satin and Lisa Carbon, the spacious ambience of Flextone, and the digital jazz of The Roger Tubesound Ensemble. The mid-90s further marked the beginning of Schmidt's formal association with the experimental label Fax, also based in Frankfurt and run by the recently deceased Pete Namlook. Through a number of solo and collaborative projects with Tetsu Inoue and Namlook, Schmidt contributed to mature the melodic trance and techno sounds now associated with Frankfurt. He released a handful of Fax titles during this period through the Rather Interesting imprint, which was established as a subsidiary of Namlook's Fax especially for Atom Heart-related projects.
Schmidt moved to Santiago, Chile in 1996 to explore Latin American music and soon launched the satirical Señor Coconut project — a "band" consisting of Schmidt, an Akai MPC3000, and an S6000 — doing covers of '70s and '80s classics in Latin style. The most notorious Señor Coconut release, El Baile Alemán (Emperor Norton, 1999), was a Latin/cumbia reinterpretation of Kraftwerk hits.
During 1999 and 2000, Schmidt earned a higher profile among American listeners with the release of several projects, beginning with the cover album, Pop Artificielle. As Flanger (an atmospheric jazz project with Burnt Friedman) he also achieved a relatively wide exposure through the album Templates on the Ninja Tune sub-label Ntone. The end of the decade saw the release of a critically acclaimed Atom™ album on Raster-Noton, Liedgut, which was nominated for Germany's highest music award, the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik. In recent years Schmidt has developed a new Atom™ live show, in which he plays audio (with a vintage Akai MPC sampler) and video in real time. His most recent solo outing on the esteemed German label, HD, was released in March 2013.