Interview with Tim Davison.
Reported by Shaun
Submitted 08-09-04 11:42
The harderfaster Progfather and legal eagle Tim Davison has been making waves in London over the past few years with his infectious enthusiasm and amazing talent that has created his own legion of fans. His Demo CDs are spoke of in revered tones by those lucky enough to receive copies and he is one of the nu-breed of DJs using a variety of technologies to put out truly creative and innovative material. He holds a residency at London's longest running day party becomeone and has reguarly played for the likes of Sleepless, Thirsty DJs and Ground Zero. He has played for London superclub The Gallery several times over and has more gigs there planned for the future. He has also just started producing his own tunes as well - we had a chat with our Tim, to ask him about the past, the present and the future.....
What inspired you to start mixing and Dj-ing? Was there a particular set you heard that caught your imagination and made you think ‘Wow! I’ve got to try and do that?’
I initially started buying Fantasia and Cream albums at uni but was never heavily into clubbing. On NYE 98/99 I went to Alexandra Palace, London and heard Sasha, Chemical Brothers, Underworld and New Order, a rather seminal moment it has to be said! I remember standing listening to Sasha’s opening and that was it for me. The following year I went to law school in Nottingham and went out of my way to always catch Sasha, Craig Richards and Lee Burridge at Tyrant@The Bomb. Very few Lawyers are clubbers (shockingly) so I used to go by myself and dance away all night.
As I got more and more into the scene I realised I couldn't buy the tunes I wanted on CD so started buying vinyl and playing them on a housemate's record player. Eventually she got annoyed that I was totally wearing out her system and dancing round her room to "such awful noise" ha ha I then bought a terrible belt drive Soundlab deck, which back then I thought was just out of this world! This then progressed to two decks and a mixer as I tried to imitate what I had seen at Tyrant. Having no idea at all what I was doing nor any friends with a similar interest it was an incredibly laborious task so I kept picking it up and putting it down while my record collection continued to balloon.....
Has Progressive House always been your main musical passion? What did you mix way back when you started playing?
Ha ha I am going to get slaughtered for this but when I first started DJing I first starting buying 'trance', anything on platipus, cafe del mar, chicane, FSOL, Grace etc. Then I heard Northern Exposure 1, mixed by Sasha and Digweed, still my favourite mix album of all time. The most overused expression in dance music is being taken on a 'journey' but this is the true embodiment of that ideal for me. Progressive house/breaks has always been my first passion since then but as my mix CDs will attest, I love a huge number of other 'genres' out there, whatever really tickles my pickle.
As you were once one out of a million bedroom DJs did you have a gameplan on how to make your mark in the cut and thrust world of dance music?
I wish! No I was typically disorganised and just messing around making mixtapes to listen to when traveling around. Then at Gatecrasher Soundsystem in 2001 I met Shaun Rowland, Simon Winstanley and Jon Edwards. We got on like an absolute house on fire and when back in London started meeting up to go clubbing virtually every weekend. In 2002 they said they were starting a new night called becomeone (the other names considered will be retained for reasons of abject humiliation) and asked if I'd like to play....incredible to think it has been 2 and a half years now and they remain some of my very best friends.
Your demo CDs are the stuff of legend in London – talk us through the process: where do the ideas for the samples come from? How long does it take you to source the tracks and decide on the running order? What set up do you then use to lay down the mix?
Well I wouldn't go that quite far but the feedback I have received has been very rewarding. I remember thinking how annoying it was that I only had 74 minutes to put down everything I wanted to, that I could only mix about 12 tunes. I truly love so many types of music that I wanted to produce a demo of what was rocking my world at that time. Rather than getting too obsessed with beatmatching I wanted to produce something that would be more akin to the sort of mixtape you produced at school with your favourite tunes. The problem then arose, how to blend them together, how to get from Rock music to drum and bass to breaks to hip hop to trance to classical? The use of accapellas, samples and chopped up loops of various tracks acted like a kind of glue and allowed me far more freedom to push things forward.
Before buying my current cdjs I used to operate from three record decks and a couple of hi fi cd players so the mixes had to be mind numbingly choreographed with each mix/loop/sample/accapella written down in detail so I would know when to push what
button when and where precisely to bring a tune in. Eventually I became limited by the equipment I was using. Many of the tunes I wanted to use were already mixed on other people's mix cds and so I wanted to mix those over the top of what I was already doing. In essence this could sometimes mean four or five tunes were playing simultaneously but a couple of these had no pitch control so I was adjusting the tunes already playing to match the speed of those coming in! The cdjs have really given me a new lease of life and I now use two 1210s, a Pioneer CDJ-800, a Pioneer CDJ-1000, a Pioneer EFX-500 and (still) a couple of additional CD players on my hi fi.
To produce a mixtape where you just beatmatch just seems such a waste. The technology is there to do incredible things and really achieve something special.
It normally takes me a month or two to search for material, going through all the tunes, plays, films etc in my collection and searching through record shops. I would then reduce this down to 50 tunes and then try to whittle that down by experimenting with different ideas to see what works. Eventually I will mix together about 25 tunes but never list all samples, loops and accapellas and like to let people discover something different every time they listen. The final mix itself will never be recorded more than two times. I just don't have the patience. Even if it’s not totally perfect (and let's face it, how many people are ever totally happy with their mix CD?!) that's what goes out. It's always a bit raw but a large part of me is in each one.
I have been working on a new mix CD for over a month now and hope to have this out by the end of September. Watch this space!
The last demo heralded a more housey direction for you with tunes such as ‘I See Girls’ included – is this a signal of a move towards a more house based sound for you or are you still as committed to your trademark melodic progressive sound?
No, no at all, that is just how that particular mix turned out. What a tune though eh?!
You have recently moved into production as well – how did you find this? Did you have a pre-conceived idea of what you wanted to make or did you almost make it up as you went along?
I felt I had hit a bit of glass ceiling with DJing and increasingly understood the importance of being able to produce. The number of gigs I play has suffered as I have been devoting a lot of time learning the ropes and I have been working in conjunction with an amazing guy called Matt Fisher up here in Birmingham. The first two tunes can be heard here and all feedback is very much welcomed!! The possibilities with producing are endless and I certainly hope to push this in the coming months. I generally start with an idea and then create another sound which totally changes the original idea and so on. I have no idea where it's going, I just cling on!
Your biggest gigs to date have been for The Gallery in T2 and the Main Room. This must have been amazing as The Gallery is one of your favourite clubs. Are there more gigs in the pipeline for you there?
Simply one of the most incredible things to have happened to me DJ-wise. I have played there 4 times now (twice in each room) and am next there on November 26 with Eddie Haliwell. Each time it's been an absolute honour, something I would never take for granted. I have been going there for about 4 years and even though I have been living up in Birmingham for over a year now I still make the pilgrimage down to Turnmills virtually every Friday by train. For me personally it is musically the most consistent night in the country. I’d also like to thank everyone for the incredible support I’ve received when playing there, both at the club itself and from friends. Thank you so much!
You also hold a two year residency with becomeone. Do you feel that being offered this residency at such an early stage of your DJ-ing has helped your Djing career so far?
Immeasurable. There is simply no way I would have achieved what I have or have the appetite if it wasn't for Shaun, Simon and Jon and the various other resident DJs we have had over the past two years, miss c, Stewart Rae, Ben Green and Fraser Nerin. Their enthusiasm and ability, together with the support of the clubbers has really pushed me on and I could never thank them all enough. I am a very lucky guy.
Who are your DJ superheroes? And which DJ do you believe is currently leading the progressive/house scene and why?
Predictable but has to be Sasha. Technically and musically he consistently hits a nerve with me in a way that no other DJ ever has. His epic openings are incredible and bring true meaning to the saying 'lost in music' where you simply cannot dance hard enough, fast enough or scream loudly enough.
The future is in the safe (but furious) hands of James Zabiela. His use of cdjs and efx units is truly streets ahead of most other DJs on this planet and everyone is playing catch up. Just watch the DVD that comes with his new album, 'Alive'.....Closer to home I should also mention Anil Chawla, recently voted one of Mixmag's Future Heroes 2004/05 and one to watch.
What ambitions do you wish to achieve within the next year?
My main priority is to concentrate on pushing myself further musically, whether that be by way of producing, DJing whatever. I would love to continue playing for The Gallery and helping becomeone to continue to evolve. I would also like to try and secure more gigs overseas as the progressive clubbing scene is pretty small in the UK so I often find myself playing diverse genres to crowds who don’t expect to hear that style. It’s all fun at the end of the day and the future is looking very exciting!
To be able to move down to London would also be nice as right now I spend at least 5-7 hours each weekend on a train up and down to London from Birmingham but if that's what it takes then so be it.
What has been your favourite set to date and why?
Ministry of Sound New Years Day 2003. One of those gigs where everything tune seemed just right and....well you had to be there really. The first ever gig at The Gallery is right up there too.
And finally….as a regular at Turnmills maybe you can shed some light into what actually goes on in that office at The Gallery every Friday night? Any ideas?
OK but you can't tell anyone...*looks around conspiratorially*......there are hundreds of thousands of monkeys on stools learning to mix and banging away on keyboards......the revolution is nigh.
Thanks Tim for your time. You can catch Tim at this Saturday's becomeone at Turnmills with guests Andy Bagguley, Dave Lochrie and Opaque Jake. Full Details can be found Click here
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Other Features By Shaun:
Nastydirtysexmusic, Interview with Tim Sheridan and Smokin' Jo
The Big Three in Ibiza reviewed: We Love Sundays at Space, Subliminal Sessions at Pacha and Cream at Amnesia...
Review of SW4 - Clapham Common, 21/08/04.
Review of Cream, Amnesia opening party.
Interview with Riley and Durrant
The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.
| From: gravitational pull on 8th Sep 2004 13:39.50|
From: BottleofWater on 8th Sep 2004 13:56.17
Ah, that fateful GSSS.....:dreamsequence:
From: Karl Alexander on 8th Sep 2004 14:01.07
From: SleeplessAndy on 8th Sep 2004 14:29.41
Top interview Tim, onwards and upwards! And a little sideways, at times.
From: Fi on 8th Sep 2004 14:34.22
Timmy! Timmy! Timmy!
Excellent interview, Shaun, and how nice to see that you stayed away from using that old turnip "... we caught up with..."
From: Anil Chawla on 8th Sep 2004 15:03.20
Great read Tim, very interesting indeed
Thanks for the mention dude
From: Bagel on 8th Sep 2004 15:09.57
Great Interview! One seriously talented lad...keep up the good work Timmy
From: Tom Foy on 8th Sep 2004 15:30.23
Great interview Tim!
From: Jim Wild on 8th Sep 2004 15:38.03
Wicked Dj & Top Bloke, will go far
From: Pickled Pat on 8th Sep 2004 16:16.54
Nice Interview! Sorry I missed you at The Gallery last month.
From: Tin Tin on 8th Sep 2004 16:45.42
One to be watched without a doubt, when a big agency snaps you up mate, i can't wait to watch you rise! A true gent and a simply an inspirational DJ!
From: Dee on 8th Sep 2004 17:02.15
Ahh Tim. What a top chap.
Your set on NY's Day was superb - blew everyone away that day, that's for sure. I think you can attribute it to the moody prog dj stubble you were sporting. (Oh, and wasn't it 2004, not 2003??)
I am Timmy, hear me roar! Hee hee, RA!
From: DMX on 8th Sep 2004 21:32.24
Tim's a rare talent indeed. His use of samples is something others could learn a lot from.
The biggest compliment I can pay him is that his two demo CDs are the best dance music CDs I own! Fingers crossed we'll see progressive house becoming a force in the UK in 2005.
I wish you all the best!
From: Lizzie Curious on 8th Sep 2004 22:01.24
I have been hoping for some considerable time for a Tim Davison interview on HF>>>>it's here, yay! Brilliant to read, and to see someone who puts his whole heart and soul into what he does. The future's sure bright for you Tim! xx
From: Ali Storm on 9th Sep 2004 04:46.09
wicked dude, god i remember when u used to play for cupid back in stevenage!!!!!!now look at u!!shall be watching with intent on ur progress, let me know if ur gona grace our shores over here in NZ!!!!
From: Dan Cheshire Cat on 9th Sep 2004 13:15.28
Very interesting reading, we must have a proper chat sometime Tim... i.e. not in a club or on a boat! And I look forward to hearing you play (4 tunes at Becomeone don't count!) Your tunes are providing a lush soundscape here in CatzHQ, with the sun beaming down on the Cheshire Street terrace - it's a perfect setting - and they are giving my ears a break from the pounding tune I've been working on all morning. It's good to hear the drums sitting back for a change... especially when I've spent the last hour putting the drums in the track I've been working on as far to the front as poss! God, I'm turning into a studio geek. Someone get me out of here.
From: Steve Prince on 9th Sep 2004 15:36.31
tim keep it up you funky munky
From: DJChewy on 10th Sep 2004 11:21.49
Nice one Tim and great interview Good to see the Thirsty DJs get a mention and not forgetting your set @ MoS on NYD & keep it up mate
From: Smurfette on 10th Sep 2004 19:04.54
Great interview Timmy, well done on the success so far, and can't wait to hear your new tunes!
From: Garden Gnomes on 11th Sep 2004 09:59.57
Nice interview intersting and well written! Your NYE set did save the day I have to admit! Looking forward to seeing where the year takes you. And don't tell Stevie ......I really like the stuff you play.
From: ~deleted1390 on 12th Sep 2004 17:28.01
The best Bar Music DJ in the world.
From: ~deleted9534 on 12th Sep 2004 18:12.17
Great Interview Tim and Shaun, lucky there isn't a dancing photo up on it :-D
From: flash on 19th Sep 2004 06:07.25
You rock Tim - we all miss your sounds!
From the Society of ex-Become 1 DJ's (fraser & stewart)
From: Tania Mann on 4th Oct 2004 10:44.59
Nice interview Tim. Keep up the great proggy sets!
From: ElusiveDJs on 5th Oct 2004 09:01.30
Truly a legend at work. Great interview Tim (and Shaun)... keep up the great work, and don't forget your friends when you are country-hopping every weekend to play out!
From: Exiled Angel on 5th Oct 2004 09:43.09
Tim, if I gush at you any more I'll be accused of slipping up your back passage but you know I think you're an amazing Dj and you'll always get 200% of my support because you're worth it. Keep it up!
From: Exiled Angel on 5th Oct 2004 09:44.47
Oh, and to DMX. Winds of Change is still my all time favourite cd ever.