Our latest artist interview features Tim Robert. The US DJ / Producer has a new single entitled ‘Big Dream in Blue’ out now on Jetlag Digital. Please enjoy our interview with Tim below.
1. Hi Tim, thanks so much for joining us here. Let’s give the people some sort of background info on you so we’ll start with some basic stuff. Where are you based and how long have you been DJing and producing?
Tim: Thanks Mitch, it’s a real honor to be interviewed for Release Promo and Change Underground. I live in New York City. I started learning production in 2006, started DJing live in 2009, and had my first track released in 2010.
2. How did you first discover electronic music? Where do your musical roots lie and when did you know you wanted to pursue electronic music seriously? I know you were in some rock oriented bands previous to this, tell us a bit about those as well.
Tim: I was a guitarist/vocalist in rock bands first in Saint Louis and then in Boston. My last band had a few independent label releases and did some touring. After that band broke up, I started writing music for theater and moved to New York. At the time, I was getting into electronic groups like the Chemical Brothers and Underworld. One night I was at an Orbital concert, and somebody told me I should go to Twilo. I was like, “What? What is Twilo?” So I went there, saw Sasha and Digweed, and was totally blown away. I thought, “this stuff rocks way harder than current rock music, sonically it’s really tripped out, and it’s amazing to dance to on top of that.” So I started going to clubs and saw a lot of the Global Underground DJs. But I kept working in musical theater for several years, trying to sneak electronic elements into the music I was writing. Finally, I thought, “This is ridiculous, I like electronic music so much, I should be making it.” So I quit writing for theater and dove into production study.
3. What do you think about the current state of electronic music in the United States and more specifically New York? Is it as strong as it once was? How is it now compared to the much talked about Twilo days?
Tim: Well, as far as the U.S. goes, it seems like electronic music has hit the mainstream through festivals, and I think that’s positive, in that it’s turning a lot of people on to electronic music. But I suspect that a lot of people who go to U.S. festivals have never heard a great club set by a DJ who knows how to build it up. I’m optimistic that a lot of those kind of fans will eventually want to dig deeper into the underground. The New York scene is really big and diverse, you’ve got everything here from big room to minimal. The underground scene here is pretty strong, especially with techno and trance. Progressive is smaller but steadily growing. My sense is that right now there isn’t quite the crazy enthusiasm there was back in the Twilo days, but the potential is definitely there.
4. You’re quite active in the New York club scene, tell us a bit about some of the events you promote.
Tim: Last year I started throwing parties with a friend, and our events featured local DJs playing underground progressive & tech. Our events went really well, so we decided to bring in some international DJs. We hosted the NYC debut of Cid Inc. last fall, and the U.S. debut of Marcelo Vasami a few months ago. I’ve since started promoting events on my own, and – news flash, you’re the first to hear it – in the fall I’ll launch a new party brand named Echowave, which will promote local DJ parties, as well as bring international DJs to New York.
5. You obviously get to hear a lot of DJs, who if anyone has blown you away recently?
Tim: Cid Inc. and Marcelo Vasami were outstanding live. A few months ago I saw Robert Babicz, who totally rocked. I’ve also heard a lot of tremendous sets by local DJs, guys like Rory James, James Gill, Brad Miller, AJ Clay, Silicon Syndicate and Lucas PM. Lucas in particular played a closing set a while back that totally brought me back to the Twilo days.
6. What do you do outside of electronic music? what is a regular day like for Tim Robert and what do you enjoy doing besides producing and DJing?
Tim: I pretty much split my time between music and being a dad. My wife and I have a 4-year old daughter, and one of the great things about being a dad is that I can act really goofy and get away with it. I’m big golf geek, though I don’t much time to play these days. Once in a while I hit the links with one of my buddies and we have a lot of laughs.
7. You have a new release out this week on Shane’s Jetlag Digital imprint. It’s your fourth appearance on the German label? How did you initially meet Shane? and tell us a bit about your new single.
Tim: Yeah, prior to this new EP, I did two remixes for Jetlag, and Shane remixed a track I did for LuPS Records and just re-released it on his new Jetstream album. I first met Shane online as a regular listener to one of his radio shows. I absolutely loved his radio sets and became a big fan of Jetlag Digital. Shane and I met in person when he came to NYC a couple years ago. We did a gig together here, which was really cool, as he is a great live DJ and a super nice guy. “Big Dream in Blue” was inspired by Blusoul – Omega, in particular its acid line. The title is a twist on the title of the Kandinsky painting “Small Dream in Red”. I’m excited that the EP has remixes by Yuriy from Russia, Audiostorm and F-Act, three really talented producers.
8. How difficult was learning to produce for you in the beginning? Did you take any Audio Engineering programs or production courses to help you out or are you pretty much self taught? And did anyone give any advice early on in your career that really helped?
Tim: It was very tough for me in the beginning, as I discovered that producing electronic music involves a completely different skill set than writing rock songs. I did take some classes at SAE and Dubspot here in New York, and I got some advice from a couple producer friends, which definitely helped. But I’ve learned mostly by doing it, by reading stuff in magazines like Sound on Sound, and by RTFM!
9. How has your studio changed since you started producing?
Tim: I’ve always used Logic and work mostly in the box, so not too much has changed. Early on I got an Access Virus, and in the past couple years I added a few great third party plugins, like u-he Diva and some SoundToys and FabFilter stuff.
10. What parts of the production process do you find the toughest? and what comes easiest for you? When the writing or production process gets tough, what gets you through it?
Tim: I’m a perfectionist and I tend to second-guess myself, which has slowed down my process. So now I’m focused on working quicker and sticking with my first instincts. The easiest part for me is coming up with riffs, probably because of my experience as a rock songwriter. What gets me through the tough parts is knowing that grinding it out is sometimes part of the process, and knowing that it’s rewarding to finish a piece of music that I really like.
11. What does the rest of 2014 look like for you, any upcoming releases you can tell us about?
Tim: Right now I’m working on a remix for Massive Harmony Records, and I’ll be doing some more work for Jetlag Digital. I just finished a couple of original tracks that I’m pretty excited about. The launch of Echowave is sure to keep me pretty busy as well.
12. If you had to pick one track which solidified your love for electronic music early on what would it be?
Tim: I can’t really point to a particular track. Seeing Sasha and Digweed at Twilo was what really did it.
13. What was your first and last DJ gig?
Tim: My first gig was at an interior design industry party, which was pretty comical, because they wanted me to put my DJ setup in a storage closet. With some subtle persuasion I convinced them to put me in a slightly more visible area. My last gig was a week ago at great club in Brooklyn called TBA. It was pretty cool. The crowd was great, and the club has big windows to the street, so you could see a big lightning storm that was happening that night.
14. What was the first and last record you purchased?
Tim: I think my first electronic music record was the Chemical Brothers’ Dig Your Own Hole. The last one was Nick Warren – The Masters Series, Part 18, which was an anomaly, because that was the first physical record I’d bought in years.
15. What would you say is the highlight of your career thus far?
Tim: On the production side, seeing my remix of Loquai – Back Home on Beatport’s 10 Must Hear Progressive House Tracks list was pretty cool. From a live standpoint, it was a real thrill playing at Cielo, which is a great club, and it was for a Push The Night party, which is one of my favorite parties in New York.
16. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
Tim: I have seven sisters and two brothers, and none of them live within 500 miles of New York.
17. Who are some of the best undiscovered talents in your eyes?
Tim: I’d have to say the New York guys I mentioned earlier. I feel like NYC has a strong contingent of progressive DJs and producers who could soon make their mark on a bigger scale.
18. Which producers consistently inspire you?
Tim: Some of my favorites are Cid Inc., Silinder, Danny Lloyd, F-Act, Rich Curtis and Jamie Stevens. But I get inspired a lot by individual tracks, so in that sense, there are a huge number of artists who have inspired me.
19. What artist or track would you love to remix? and who would you love to be remixed by?
Tim: I would love to take a crack at something by any of the guys I just mentioned, and I’d love to be remixed by them as well. Actually, F-Act did a remix of Big Dream in Blue, which floored me when I heard it. It’s a tour-de-force.
20. Record labels are a dime a dozen these days and the majority of people feel most of them are mediocre music factories. Which ones if any standout for you?
Tim: There are quite a few, but some of my favorites are Balkan Connection, Change Audio, Jetlag Digital, Lowbit, microCastle, Movement Recordings, Sound Avenue and Sudbeat.
21. What would you say is the best mix compilation of all time?
Tim: Two of my all-time favorites are GU 009 Sasha – San Francisco and Sandra Collins – Tranceport.3
22. Current Favourites (you can list more than one per category if you like)
Food: Baigan Bhartha
Drink: Sapphire and Tonic
TV Show: Yo Gabba Gabba
Movie: Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon
Video Game: I don’t know the name, but those car racing ones
Album: Renaissance Presents: Hernan Cattaneo – The Masters Series (Vol. 1)
Track / Song: Ziger – Shadows
Producer / Band: Cid Inc.
Record Label: Sudbeat
Nightclub: Verboten (NYC)
DJ: Nick Warren
23. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?
Tim: Underworld – Moaner
Tim’s ‘Big Dream in Blue’ is out now on Jetlag Digital, , you can purchase the release: here