Timothy Wisdom has been carving a huge, bass filled path through the ghetto funk scene for a few years now. With headlining shows at major festivals such as Bass Coast, Burning Man, Astral Harvest and Vancouver’s International Folk Festival his unique showman skills are in demand the world over. The shows fuse live MCing, singing, turntablism often teaming up with DJ partner Busta and providing a hype filled party the crowd will never forget.
When it comes to producing, his tracks have been hammered by the very best DJ’s and artists in the scene and have featured on top labels like Ghetto Funk, ReSoul, Bombstrikes, Bombastic Jam and Manmade. If you like things funky then you are bound to have some Timothy Wisdom in your collection, and if for some bizarre reason you haven’t, get yourself over to JUNO and check out his back cat.
He has supplied us with one of his many, unreleased bass jams that he rocks his live shows with. Air horns, sirens, big bassline and stomping beats are whats on offer, all done in that unique Wisdom style. You can grab your download of Danger At The Disco after the interview below.
1. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, for those that don’t know, who are you, what do you do and what style(s) of music do you play?
I’m Timothy Wisdom and I produce and perform a wide variety of electronic music, mostly based in the realm of funk and breaks. I started as an MC in the early nineties, was quickly hooked into DJing and then started producing as much as I could. Now I have a handful of releases on various labels and have toured around the world with my music.
2. Tell us a bit about what you’re working on now, any releases on the horizon?
Every day is a different project. I just finished an original funk tune featuring me singing. It’s sort of a love song and I channeled a Marvin Gaye style for the hook. It’s a first because usually I rap on my own tunes. But I’ve been in a choir for a few years so eventually the singing had to make it into one of my tunes.
I go back an forth between making fun bootlegs and writing original material. The bootlegs obviously take a lot less effort but every time I make one, I get ideas and inspiration for my own music. I have an EP of funk boots coming out on Resoul Records for the summer, a slammer headed for Ghetto Funk, an original jam I did with Slynk and a remix EP from the work I did with Busta coming out on Bombastic Jam. I’ve also been writing a ton of Drum n Bass that’s been seeping into my shows. But we’re headed into Summer Festival season and in Canada, that means you have to stock pile a bunch of hidden gems to showcase at the festivals. So I’m going into lockdown mode until after Shambhala.
3. What other artists have you been feeling recently, who are you currently championing in your DJ sets?
I mostly play my own tunes in my sets….or those of friends like Stickybuds, The Funk Hunters and Slynk. I’m also really into the hype over the new Daft Punk album and I love all the tunes that Pretty Lights and his label put out.
4. Which Club Nights do you play at regularly?
In Canada we don’t play at regular club nights. Instead we throw special “parties” around town and then tour quite a bit. I’ve played in loads of clubs but never on a weekly or monthly basis.
5. Worst request whilst DJing?
Ha! I generally don’t get requests while DJing because it’s pretty clear that I have a show to perform and I’m not that type of DJ. Sometimes people will shout out names of my tunes that they want me to do during the set.
6. What are your best/worst DJ experiences?
I think one of my highlights in the early days was at a New Year’s Party called Intention. It was a few hundred people taking over a kids camp for a week, with the focus on creating a really cool New Year’s Eve. I played just after midnight but one of the turntables decided to just stop working half way through my set. I remember thinking “don’t panic” and I just picked up the mic and told jokes and hyped up the crowd while I switched up the records (this was before the Serato days when we used real vinyl). The party launched into high gear and nobody even cared that I was only using one deck and not actually mixing anything. And it was that night when I realized the value of performance over just DJing.
7. What got you into electronic music? What made you choose your current style and sound?
I remember hearing DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince for the first time in grade 5 and falling in love with the sound of Jeff scratching. I dove head first into rap music (this was before the term hip-hop was being used). In Grade 9 my Dad was on his way to New York City for business and I gave him all the money I earned from a summer of mowing lawns and asked him to buy me whatever I needed to make rap music. He came home with two cheap turntables, a Gemini mixer and a Roland 505 drum machine (which he scored from an old friend). I only had 5 records, all folk music from my parents collection. But I had a decent cassette tape collection of rap and my mixer had a 4 second sampler on it. So I would sample a beat from my tapes into the sampler and use one of the records to scratch over top while I rapped. I had no idea what to do with the second turntable until I went to University in the mid nineties and experienced my first rave.
After seeing DJs mix records together at a rave, I was hooked again and started a serious addiction to record shopping. I played everything from Trance to House to Breaks to Drum n Bass. These days I prefer broken beats and I’m back to my hip-hop roots. And since the digital medium has taken over and I’m concentrating on production, my addiction to collecting vinyl has become an addiction to collecting samples. Do you have any cool snare drums?
8. What do you get up to outside of music?
Ha – I pretty much work on tunes from the moment I wake up until I fall asleep. I have a background in Computer Science….but I somehow managed to related that to music as well. My Master’s Thesis involved creating a digital force-feedback turntable that allowed you to manipulate digital music, much like Serato, but I used “haptics” (that’s a fancy word for “getting information through the sense of touch”) to provide different ways of interacting with the turntable. The device was called D’Groove (aka Digital Groove) and there are some research papers about it on my website: timothywisdom.com
I’m also madly addicted to this board game: Settlers of Catan. Yeah it’s super lame to come out as a gamer but you’d be surprised how many hipsters are closet Catan players too. “I’ve got 2 bricks for a wheat! Any takers?”
9. What do you think it means to be a “successful” DJ or producer?
With the advent of the digital age, it’s so much easier to become a DJ or producer. I like that it’s now easier for people to express themselves through music. And I think people should make music to express themselves. I judge my own success on whether I can listen to one of my own tunes and be amazed that I created this thing that evokes a feeling and has a soul. If I can listen back on a tune I made years ago and still feel a sense of pride or wonder about it, then it was a success.
And I love performing. I love being in front of a crowd and sharing a feeling inside me with everyone else and having us all connected or unified in that feeling. When that happens it’s pure magic and thus a total success.
If you’re trying to be successful in terms of being the most popular or making the most money, then I think you’ve missed the point entirely.
10. What can we expect from you over the course of 2013 and beyond?
I’m really excited about learning new production techniques, writing loads of new songs and putting together concepts for live shows. I feel like there’s so much to learn and I’ve just scratched the surface. It’s an awesome place to be because there’s loads of potential for growth. And I’ll probably go on another tour….or three.