Senor Coconut Takes Us 'Around the World' Senor Coconut aka Uwe Schmidt is known for his lushly orchestrated Latin big band versions of pop hits like The Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams, Prince's Kiss and works by German techno pioneer Kraftwerk. His new album, Around The World, sounds like a vision you'd have after eating bad wienerschnitzel at a Miami rave.
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Senor Coconut Takes Us 'Around the World'

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Senor Coconut Takes Us 'Around the World'

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Senor Coconut Takes Us 'Around the World'

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ALEX COHEN, host:

The musician known as Senor Coconut works so hard he claims the only time he hears other music is when he's in an elevator or a supermarket. Despite his busy schedule, Senor Coconut took a bit of time out to chat with Derek Rath about his latest CD called "Around the World."

(Soundbite of song "Around the World")

DEREK RATH: Senor Coconut is not so much a person as a persona. The moniker is used by Uwe Schmidt, born in Frankfurt, Germany, and now residing in Santiago, Chile. Hardly the place to base an assault on the international pop charts, but that suits Senor Coconut just fine. Lets face it, if you want to make it big, you don't blend Daft Punk, fifties lounge music, and the ballroom cha cha cha of Perez Prado, do you? Or do you?

(Soundbite of song "Around the World")

SENOR COCONUT: (Singing) Around the world, around the world. Around the world, around the world.

RATH: The very title, "Around the World," is a clue to what is going on here.

Mr. UWE SCHMIDT (Musician): I need just a working method or a leitmotif in the end, which was "Around the World." That phrase came to me in a couple of occasions of wanting - was the Daft Punk song. And I realized it would be a good working title, you know, for the record and method of how to structure the album basically.

RATH: Basically, it gave him the freedom to follow his heart and to go where he wanted musically.

(Soundbite of song "Da Da Da")

SENOR COCONUT: (Singing) Ich Lieb Dich Nicht Du Liebst Mich Nicht. Ich Lieb Dich Nicht Du Liebst Mich Nicht. Ich Lieb Dich Nicht Du Liebst Mich Nicht. Da da da. Da da da.

Mr. SCHMIDT: I'm not only listening to new music or only listening to old music or - I'm just listening to what kind of like fits an interest, a certain interest.

(Soundbite of song "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)")

Mr. SCHMIDT: For example, the Eurythmics song I had with me for many, many years, and it never make sense in any of the other albums.

(Soundbite of song "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)")

SENOR COCONUT: (Singing) Sweet dreams are made of this. Who am I to disagree? I traveled the world and the seven seas. Everybody's looking for something. Some of them want to...

RATH: What separates coconut from kitsch and makes this head-spinning juxtaposition so fascinating is the sheer musicality of it all. It makes sense. And it's not the first time Senor Coconut has struck gold with his idiosyncratic formula.

(Soundbite of music)

RATH: Most notably in 2000, he released "El Baile Aleman." An unlikely marriage of techno and mambo, it was both an appreciation and a parody of the legendary German synth pioneers Kraftwerk. Despite being billed as Senor Coconut y Su Conjunto, all the Latin sounds were computer generated. This new release "Around the World" is written for and preformed by a real orchestra. And even as his production values have changed, Senor Coconut's mischievous song choices have not.

(Soundbite of song "Kiss")

SENOR COCONUT: (Singing) Ain't no particular sign, I'm more compatible with. I just want your extra time and your kiss.

Mr. SCHMIDT: I had a couple of songs of friends on my list and the funny thing was this song is that it didn't - in the original version doesn't have a baseline. It was quite a challenge for me to make it work as a Latin song.

(Soundbite of music)

RATH: It may or may not be tongue in cheek, but there is purpose behind Senor Coconut's blending of musical genres.

Mr. SCHMIDT: It's actually about, you know, really like a game, like playing, like throwing things together. In English, as in German, the word for - like you're playing music, you know. In Spanish, it's different, it's - they use tu carro(ph) which is touch. You know, you touch music when you make it. The entertaining thing for me about music in general is the playfulness of it.

(Soundbite of music)

RATH: For NPR News, this is Derek Rath.

(Soundbite of music)

COHEN: Senor Coconut's album "Around the World" is in stores now.

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