Tim Cullen is a house music producer from Kent, UK. Active in the game for some time now, he runs the always eclectic Grin Recordings label, an imprint that’s hosted some seriously invigorating house cuts in its time, all of which are designed to absolutely destroy the dancefloor. His latest record, Full English, gave us a tantalizing glimpse into his talents, whereas the label’s latest is a great remix package of the latter that comes armed with remixes by names such as none other than Harry Romero himself. We put a few questions to Tim recently to see what’s on his current agenda…
– Where did you grow up and what was it like for house and techno music?
I grew up in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, UK. Music was all around me throughout my childhood as my parents were folk musicians. I got my first real taste of electronic music in the clubs of Maidstone and London, and never looked back.
– Do you remember first encountering electronic music?
My mate’s brother had a pair of old Soundlab decks at the early age of 15 and after one go, I was hooked! I loved playing around with vinyl from The Prodigy & Altern-8.
– And when did you release your first EP? How do you feel you’ve progressed since then?
I did a degree in Music Technology in 1999, but it wasn’t until 2009 when I released my first track. I collaborated with my good friend Andy Tau and vocalist Olivia Martyn. It picked great support from Judge Jules and Armin Van Buuren, and really gave me the kick and confidence I needed to grow as a producer.
– And how do you write a track? What do you start on?
I like to have a really clear idea / vibe / vocal already in mind before even starting. I then build the groove around this, and this ensures a quick and easy writing process.
– So are you a quick or slow producer? Or does it vary?
I like to write as quick as possible. I find my best work is done within 4-5 hours. It’s all about flow. If any part of the process takes longer than 10 minutes to get right, I move on and come back to it later.
– And what came first, the DJing or the producing? How do you think they benefit one another?
I first started playing guitar, keyboard & flute(!) in bands. I then moved to DJ’ing, then production. My musical background really aids my production, and DJ’ing & clubbing regularly allows me to make music that works on dance-floors.
– What do you think the best thing about electronic music is?
To me, it’s all about people’s reactions when hearing music. When I am at a band gig, or live show I tend to watch the people in the crowd more than the actual performing artist on stage! Strange I know…
– What’s the best gig you’ve ever played, and why?
There have been so many special moments, but my mind always casts back to the first boat party I did here in the Cayman Islands in 2012. There was a magical vibe form the people, and a dolphin was dancing in the water just by the DJ booth. Bliss.
– Will you be playing any cool gigs this summer?
I have a crazy summer in the pipeline and feel very lucky to do what I do. I am currently writing these answers from The Cayman Islands as I’m here for 4 gigs w/ Evil Twin & Billy Corduroy. I also have gigs lined up in Italy, Sardinia, Pakistan, France, Greece. Good times ahead!
– How does the weather and your mood affect how you make music? Or does it?
The weather doesn’t tend to affect my music writing… I am mostly take inspiration from club nights / experiences I have had around that time. For instance, I am currently working on a remix, heavily influenced by a DJ set I heard from Hot Since 82 lately in London.
– And aside from music, what sort of other stuff do you get up to in your day-to-day life?
Well, music is my life! However, when I get downtime, I head to the pub with my wife & friends for banter and playing pool. I grew up in a pub and love the social aspect. I blame my dad for being a landlord!
– So are you involved in music aside from your DJing and productions?
I co-run a record label called Grin Recordings with Made By Pete. I also run a DJ agency, which keeps me busy!
– Can you tell us a bit about the label?
I joined Grin around 5 years ago. I love running the label nights and discovering music from new talented artists. The label gives us a solid group & social pool for creative thoughts, and is a great outlet to release our own music. It’s great having full control.
– Who was the last DJ to really impress you?
DJ EZ. I saw him play last month for the first time and he worked the decks was like they were musical instruments. I also loved hearing Maya Jane Coles at Tobacco Dock in London recently. So refreshing, and innovative.
– The label’s latest release – how did you decide on those remixers? And what do you feel they brought to the table?
We wanted to get producers on board we both really admire, and Harry Romero & DJ PP were obvious choices. Newcomer Barber is definitely one to watch – you heard it here first…
– What else have you got coming up that’s really exciting you recently?
I am sitting on 3-4 originals at the moment, so expect to hear fresh music from me very soon. I am also working on a new exciting remix, which I can’t announce just yet. I can’t wait to unleash it!
Interview by Ian Fleming