In little over four years Tim Green has risen from a bedroom producer international techno artist with a discography that many producers would give their right ear for, with regular releases on Cocoon, Viva, Get Physical and Cr2. Championed by the likes of Sven Vath, Dubfire and Laurent Garnier and having recently remixed Cassius, Booka Shade and Claude Von Stroke, it seems that Tim’s rise shows no signs of slowing down. We caught up with the London lad for a quick post-Miami WMC chat.
What is the prognosis for the music industry: terminal decline or steady recovery?
I think its more a case of trying to stablise. Artists and labels are, and should be, looking at ways to find new revenue streams, which is changing the whole industry. This in itself presents challenges but also great opportunities, as well as new talent.
As an international touring artist who can regularly find themselves on different continents in the same week, how do you strike a balance between your touring schedule and time in the studio?
With a lot of difficulty! It’s still relatively new to me but I have been touring busy every weekend for about a year or two now and I’m still trying to strike a balance.
When touring I use Traktor Scratch on my top specification Macbook Pro, which also doubles as my studio on the road as I have Logic and Ableton installed on there too. It pretty much replicates my studio at home (bar the outboard equipment), which means I can always get some production work done wherever I am. That said, these days I find myself using more and more hardware, which means I get the majority of the work done in the studio.
Does the industry these days dictate that artists need to be both creative artists and businessmen in equal measure?
I think it’s a bit stupid if you are completely clueless when it comes to the business side, but I don’t think you need to be a real entrepreneur either. As soon as you are an artist releasing music, you will have support from the label and other people who can really help with that side of the industry.
If you look at the really successful artists you can clearly see how they carefully choose what they do, that they are making sensible business choices to make the most of their careers both musically and financially.
Who’s currently rocking your world as a producer and why?
It’s hard to narrow it done as there are so many but I really love what Tom Demac is doing at the moment and also S.E.C.T. (both together and separately), those guys are creating some fantastic music right now. Tolga Fidan is a really wicked producer too and I’d like to give a mention to Boris Horel and Maceo Plex too.
Outside of house and techno, Bibio is really great. His new album is sounding amazing and is out pretty soon on Warp. Ras G and Teebs production is really wicked and not to forget Tipper as well!
What one piece of kit or plug-in can you not live without?
It has to be Battery. I don’t like using loops too much. I like to create my own patterns and beats. I really don’t think there is any other sampler as easy and effective as Battery. It’s the only plug-in I’m guaranteed to use on every single song I have written.
When building a track how do you normally work? Do you start with the drums and build from that?
No, it changes for each track. I don’t like to always start tracks in the same way (obviously its going to happen sometimes), instead I like to try new processes as much as possible, so the music doesn’t always end up sounding the same or formulaic. I don’t see the point in writing a track that I have already written. Plus trying new things creates mistakes that you can learn from and new sounds that you can discover.
Any advice on monitoring? Quiet? Loud? Do you prefer flat and boring speakers, headphones or big, phat and chunky monitors? Do you reference on multiple systems?
I mostly use headphones to produce. Monitors more for referencing against the headphones. They are just the Ultrasone DJ1 pro headphones. I also use the same pair when DJ-ing. Is crazy really, if I broke or lost them I’d have real problems in the studio and on the road!
When I started producing I was living in London in small rooms with neighbours close by so headphones were the best option. As time as gone on it’s just become natural and comfortable for me to continue using headphones – I know how things sound on them.
What are the biggest barriers new producers face?
I think a big problem is the level of competition. I know it sounds obvious, but I think there is more competition now more than ever and it’s not all good competition either – a lot of it is pretty bad.
It’s the way the industry has developed – it’s so easy to buy a computer/sequencer and make music on a cheap budget. Anyone can be a producer, which on one hand is really fantastic, and there is some amazing music coming through thanks to this, but on the other I think the market is being saturated by a lot mediocre music. As a result, new producers are having to work harder to stand out and get noticed. But because of that there are postive repercussions: it forces producers to work harder and try new things, pushing boundaries and impacting positively on the scene.
What three pieces of kit / software could you not mix without?
1. My baby Taylor acoustic guitar. Taylor is my favourite brand for acoustics. And again, being in a small flat in London means not a lot of space, so having a 3/4 scale guitar helps. Plus for a guitar of its size, it sounds amazing and plays amazingly, like all Taylors. I love to play for fun, but mostly to start ideas flowing.
2. My Neumann U87 – I can’t remember if this is from the 70s or 80s this one, I’m no expert, but I know it sounds great which is all that matter to me to be honest! It’s really accurate, picks up every little detail and even makes my bad voice sound good!
3. My Alesis 3630 compressor. Cheap and very cheerful in my opinion. I definitely got it as I read that Daft Punk liked to use it. A lot of people talk about the Black Lion mod versions of this, mine is just standard, and does exactly what I want. I found a setting I liked, and haven’t touched the dials for years. I know what to put through it for each track to get it sounding right. Brings a great character to things I think.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you started out in music, what would it be?
Be patient! I think I did this anyway when I was starting (just because I’m that way inclined generally) but I’d still recommend it, as you can never be patient enough. Too many people rush and get as much music out there as possible, on as many labels as possible, just because they can. I really think that less is more. Just take the time to make your track the BEST track you have done yet. It’s a mistake to think that the more finished tracks you have means more opportunities you’ll get.
What do you find hardest to get right when making a track?
The structure for me is a nightmare and I still don’t think I’m very good at it! I go a bit over the top with music at times, so when I know I could structure a song in about 100 different ways, my mind just goes into meltdown. As a result I have to be careful and get some distance from the track, I find it helps me to find the best structure in the end.
For me structure is one of the most important things in music. Once the melody and music is correct, the structure should be the second most important thing, with the actual production and mixing coming last.
Production, as in actual mixing and tweaking, is not always important that important. A great track can be poorly mixed and still sound great, if the music and structure are good. I just don’t think a perfectly balanced and well mixed track will ever be as good as a song with a great melody, good hook and a great vibe!