The DJ, singer, producer and instrumentalist has worked with Ian Brown, The Streets, Lee Perry, once formed a band called Vulva and is now working with Groove Armada's Tom Findlay on his latest project Sugardaddy. The two musos have collaborated to produce a riotous celebration of dirty funk with a twist of lemon and lime, sure to given even the most puritanical bible basher a boner. Never ones for the limelight, or perhaps shamed by the gutter-like grooves of debut album, 'It's Good to Get High With The Wife', the pair have remained largely anonymous, instead using a geriatric cockle seller as their visual stooge. We caught up with Tim, using modern cellular phone technology, to find out more...
VF: You’ve just released your debut album, 'It’s Good to Get High With the Wife', how has the response been to it?
Tim: "I’m happy enough with the album, all the responses and the reviews we’ve had have been good; it seems fairly well received so far. So all in all we’re pretty pleased with it so far but there’s still a lot of work to be done."
VF: And you’ve also taken your show on the road this summer including doing a full live show at Bestival. Was that nerve racking being that it was your first outing under a the guise of Sugardaddy?
Tim: "No, I found it really enjoyable because I spend so much time playing with other people that playing live doesn’t phase me so much really. Obviously it’s a bit different being the owner of the project as it were, but I just find that I really enjoy it more because usually when I play with other people I’m almost trying to reign myself in, thinking: "I can’t outshine the boss,” y’know? But it’s more like a total carte blanche, so I’ve really been enjoying it."
VF: Did the crowd respond as you hoped they would?
Tim: "Yes, yes, it’s been really good. I mean we’ve just had the one full band live show so far, at Bestival, and I was really pleased with the general reaction and how it went. We had the place really going off so you can’t ask for more than that really."
VF: And how does a Sugardaddy live show work? Who does what?
Tim: "Well basically it’s drums, bass and keyboards and then myself playing a bit of guitar and trumpet and singing and a bit of jumping around; and then we’ve got C-Mone who’s on two of the tunes off the album, doing a bit of MC-ing. And I’m trying to get Tom [Findlay] involved in the live thing."
VF: So Tom’s not involved in the live show?
Tim: "Well, he’s sort of edging into it. He’s more on the production side and he’s been sitting behind the front-of-house sound desk but I think he will be involved because obviously it would make sense and I’d like him to be, so I’m trying to persuade him and I think I’m managing it."
VF: How has it been working outside of your usual spheres of interest? Is there more pressure, as you have to prove yourselves to be more than just a Groove Armada side project? Or is that not even an issue?
Tim: "I wouldn’t say that was an issue with me at all. Before I was playing with Groove Armada I exclusively did my own music for at least 10 years or so, so it’s just nice to get a bit of a possibility to have my own my project again really. I don’t sort of compare myself unfavourably musically with whoever I end up playing with, it’s just that’s how it’s ended up being. As I said it’s just a positive thing that I’ve got my own project on the go again."
VF: You've collaborated with legends such as Afrika Bambaataa, Lee Perry and Ian Brown; how did that all come about?
Tim: "With Afrika Bambaataa I was a sort of guest vocalist on an album that he did some time ago called ‘The Light,’ which he put out on EMI and I was signed to Parlophone as a solo artist and that’s how it came about. It was great, he came into the studio once I was doing it and I was a big fan and it was just great to meet him really. With Lee Perry I worked with him on a remix he’d done of one of my tunes, again when I was signed to Parlophone. So he sort of managed to get involved with that and then I spent three days in the studio with him doing it, which was kind of a mad experience."
VF: Is he as loopy as he’s made out to be?
Tim: "Well, you can talk him like a normal person but he definitely has quirks. I mean he had these painted army boots and a chrome covered World War One helmet which he came in with to the studio every day and he put one boot on one speaker and the other boot on the other speaker and his chrome helmet in the middle and he took out all these strange things from a little box and put them all over the studio in a very ritualistic manner. So that was definitely an experience, put it that way…"
VF: And how was it working with Ian Brown?
Tim: "Ian’s great but it’s different as I got involved with him through a mutual friend, this guy Dave McCracken who produced his last three albums. He’s somebody I met that I ended up working with a bit. The other way I've got to know Ian is because I’ve got the same weed dealer! Hee hee. So it’s a quite a personal introduction. Dave recommended me as a brass player originally and then I ended up writing a couple of tracks for him and ended up touring with him and now I sort of play bass and trumpet with him live."
VF: What actually is the difference between your own projects and Sugardaddy apart the personnel?
Tim: "Well, Sugardaddy harks back to this band that I used to have years and years ago called The Neighbourhood, which was a real sort of Prince influenced funk pop band. I did make pure techno for about five years, I put a couple of albums out on Rephlex, Richard James’ [Aphex Twin] label; this was as ‘Vulva’ believe it or not - not a name destined for Top of the Pops. And then obviously I was getting involved in Groove Armada and stuff, so it’s a mixture of that. It’s definitely a sort of Prince-funk-electro-disco-house-DFA-whatever influenced kind of project, whereas my own stuff, particularly the album I did five years or so ago was a very down tempo and quite introspective. It was a singer/songwriter-type album, although it did have electronic stuff going on in it, so it is very different really. I am trying to fit some song writing in with the Sugardaddy thing."
VF: How did you and Tom meet?
Tim: "Tom heard everything and basically invited me down to do some vocals on the album ‘Goodbye Country, Hello Nightclub.’ So that’s where it all started and then I ended getting involved in touring as well, being somebody that they could get in to cover various jobs that needed doing so it went from there really."
VF: On your MySpace site and on the album sleeve your faces are always obscured in some way, are you hoping to remain anonymous, like Daft Punk, or is this just an aesthetic thing?
Tim: "We just thought that it looked better. We found this photo of a guy called Swifty Lazare who was a Hollywood agent in the 30s, 40s and 50s and there was picture of him when he was about 80 with these massive specs on and he just really looked like a player, even though he’s obviously really old. So we mocked up that picture with the logo and the name of the album and we thought it looked good and quite humorous really, so we decided to recreate that picture and got this old guy, John, who’s got a cockles stall in Aldgate East. So we styled him up and did the photos and we just thought that was a far more interesting and humorous way to present it, at least initially. We decided to keep our faces well out of it, to generate that little bit of mystique. It’s not that we want to keep it completely anonymous forever, it’s just that it looked better. According to us."
VF: Is it good to get high with the wife?
Tim: "Oh, it’s fabulous to get high with the wife. Absolutely. It’s a must."
VF: Tell us more about C-Mone…
Tim: "Well, she’s not a full time member but we like to work with The Streets and we thought it would be good to have a kind of UK feel to it and we thought she’d be the sort of person to bring it. I love her Nottingham accent, it just seemed cute in a way and her influence on the album was really good, so it seemed like a natural choice and she was bang up for it."
VF: And if you could collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Tim: "The obvious choice would be somebody like Bootsy Collins, I completely revere him, especially a few years back, so that would be great. But I think it would be good to collaborate with someone a little more oblique, such as, um…, the guy from Arctic Monkeys. Just somebody a bit more interestingly oblique."