"DJs have to be very permeable to their environment, good djs play differently in different rooms to different crowds"
Leftfield electronic producer Timothy J Fairplay is one of the two Asphodells, together with Andrew Wetherall, and also a member of the british crutton Street Axis Studio next to Scott Fraser, Sean Johnston, Richard Fearless and Daniel Avery. He has been involved in the music industry since he was 17, though he was originally in bands, playing the guitar. I have studied Philosophy but loves music more.
We speak to Timothy about his past musical and musical futures.
Hi Timothy! How’s it going?
Yeah alright thanks, am here at home on lockdown like everyone.
What was your first foray into the world of electronic music?
When I was in my late teens I was in a band, we got to record in some very nice big residential studios. It made me realise you can use the studio itself as an instrument rather than just a guitar or piano etc. That was when I first had a little home studio, though it wasn’t really until the early 2000’s that I started making music predominantly with synthesisers which was around the time I started DJing too.
In and out of the electronic music circle, who is an inspiration to you?
Ah could be a long answer… probably some of the biggest influences on me were my photography teacher at college, my philosophy tutor at university, a guy I worked with in a record shop when I was 19. But musical influences, or important discoveries include Klaus Schultz, UR, Parallex Corporation, DJ Assault, Harald Großkopf, King Tubby, Charanjit Sigh, Horsepower Productions, D.A.F. John Carpenter, Fabio Frizzi, Harmonia, Chris & Cosey, DJ Bone, DJ Funk, Marcus Mixx, Portion Control, Lhasa, Clara Mondshine, Emerald Web, Yello, Oppenheimer Analysis, Das Ding, Tommy Wright lll, Young Marble Giants, Thomas Leer & Robert Rental, Detroit In Effect, Severed Heads…
What was the last record store you visited and what did you keep there?
The last record store I visited was Phonica in London, I bought The Nightstalker ‘The Tragedies Of A High-Tech World’, should def check it if you liked the EMU compilation from last year.
Are you particularly permeable to your environment, creatively speaking? If so, how does it influence your DJ focus? And producing?
With producing I am effected a lot by my environment and who I work with, I think may this is why some of my work with others has been quite successful, but really you have to be to be good producer, like you will obviously bring a sound to whoever you work with, but you have to be sympathetic to their input too. DJs have to be very permeable to their environment, good djs play differently in different rooms to different crowds. If you play a 100% pre planned set you are just playing at the crowd, not to them.
When was it when you first decided that you wanted to become a professional musician?
Never! Its more that it never really occurred to me to do anything else, but I never made a decision, not in any careerist way anyway.
What inspires you to produce music?
All sorts really, inspiration comes from books, films, places I visit, things I read online. If I’m influenced by another piece of music I never try and copy it directly, but might try to make something that I feel conveys a similar mood.
Do you make music in any other environments?
I do work collaboratively with others in their studios which is just inspiring in itself. It can be hard to continuously be inspired working in the same space, but I’m not gonna grumble as I have a space & the time to make music that many would love to have.
You have a really eclectic sound when mixing, what has influenced you to be so musically varied in your approach?
I guess its partly from having quite a wide taste in music, but also my attention span is maybe a bit short I get bored if I play more than a couple of records that sound the same. I was most influenced by djs like Andrew Weatherall & I-f who play a lot of different genres of music in one set.
What makes a good mix to you?
I guess it just needs to be the right balance of the expected & the unexpected.
For people that have never heard you play before, how would you describe your sound to them?
I suppose it falls somewhere between electro, proto techno, wave/industrial, but with cosmic and soundtrack influences. I usually instead just make up stupid names for it like Spook Juke or Stasi Disco.
So what music are you currently obsessed by? Have you picked up any records recently that you have been playing in every set or have been listening to every day?
Current favourite is La Luna Sotto Il Ponte ’1983-1988’ its a compilation of tracks made by one of Grauzone, I like the earlier 80’s more industrial stuff on there the best, but the later more new beat/acid house sounding stuff is cool too. William Burnett’s latest Black Deer release is very cool, as is Chupacabras’ new release on L.I.E.S. The last two L.A. Club Resource releases have been ace too, esp digging the previously unreleased Armando track ‘ML King Eulogy Track’ on the ‘Tracks From The Dungeon’ 12”.
Would you like to share a set? Can you tell us more about it? When and how was it recorded?
Here is my regular monthly radio show from last december, I recorded it in my studio on my technics decks as always, it was an end of the decade special edition, with favourite music released between 2010 & 2019.
How do you deal with C19 confinement with your work?
Well I have had to leave the studio for the time being as it is a few miles from my house. I have set up a little studio at home - a couple of synths & some pedals, is the first time I have had a studio at home for about 15 years. It’s fine, will force me to work in a different way, get the most out of a small amount of equipment.
Has this situation influenced your creative perspective? What social and musical implications do you think this situation can lead to?
Well I have no desire to make a pandemic influenced album…
What tracks would you recommend us to liven up the confinement?
If you want something to get you off the sofa try ‘Mirrorshades’ by Will Webb which is a great a little under the radar Detroit classic. If you want something pastoral I’d recommend The Moomins OST by Graeme Miller & Steve Shill. On the other hand if you desire to revel in dystopian atmosphere check Gil Mellé’s soundtrack to the 1971 film The Andromeda Strain or Ian Martin’s new release on Pinkman.
What makes you happy?
Discovering something new or lost, new to me anyway. This does not only mean music, but across all sorts of art & culture. Some new window into a bit of the world that I was previously unaware of. These things can sometimes be quite obscure or esoteric, but I usually like them even more because of that.
What pisses you off?
Pureism in music is something that has always driven me mad, I guess it can be most obvious in Techno & Electro but is prevalent everywhere. I think people who go on about ‘real’ house/electro/whatever are just expressing that they have very conservative tastes.
Can you tell us something about your current or future projects? Where can we continue to see and hear Timothy?
I have a remix of ‘Barely Alive’ by Kris Baha out now on Especial, and two edits/remixes of ‘The Living Daylights’ by In Embrace out now on Emotional Rescue. Theres a remix I have done of ‘Altered States’ by Norwell which is out soon, my remix of ‘Alles’ by Inhalt is also out very soon on Mechatronica. Theres a bunch of new original material coming soon, just a little early to announce it yet!
Finally, Timothy is a really interesting name, what’s the story behind it?
There was an ancient Greek musician/actor/poet from 5th Century B.C. called Timotheus, my mother named me after him.