Read: As I discuss things, and other things, and things related to musical things with Australian song-writer/singer/multi-instrumentalist and all around brilliant musician, Timmy Fitz.
Dingus: Your albums are incredibly lush and it looks like you mainly play solo with loop stations. Do you ever play with a band?
Fitz: I haven’t tried out my stuff with a band yet, I really like the freedom of creating the sounds with a single loop station. I like the idea of doing things live without a computer as well, to give me more freedom for improvisation. The songs end up different depending on whichever gig I play. Sometimes a track played live will be faster, mashed up with another, even have different chords under the words.
What are the defining elements in your tracks?
I have gone through times where I have gotten heavily into the instruments in songs I’m listening to, and others where I only listen to words. I really try to keep things engaging for both of these aspects! I also have a near-phobia of people getting bored in a track, because I often find myself turning off a track if it is too repetitious. So the most important element could change from track to track, or even within sections of a track.
“ADD IT TO THE PILE OF CORPSES OF MACHINES THAT TURNED US INTO SLAVES OF MORE STORIES TO TELL.”
They say all brilliant artists are a little bit crazy. You’re craziness manifests itself well within eclectically arranged songs that, truly, pay deep homage to a vast line up of amazing 21st century artists. What are some of your inner thought processes that have helped create the psyche we see in Beforetime?
Like you say, this EP is very much about paying homage to heaps of the music that I love. I love so much in jazz, electronic, noise, rap, funk, and rock (even some country from time to time). I grew up playing classical piano and drums, then I got really interested in funk bass and then lyrical folk guitar stuff. So now I just have a few instruments and many (seemingly conflicting) genres that I just want to explore, to mash together in interesting ways and maybe make people go ‘Oh! That was unexpected.’ But I agree, things do get a little crazy. On the day I recorded ‘The Line’ I showed it to a mate and he said ‘I want it to get louder in the middle’ so decided to go all out with some high fuzz guitar and heavy drum cut-ups. He just laughed when I showed him the song.
Do you ever feel like the schizophrenic nature (regarding genre) of your songs hinders your identity as an artist?
I definitely feel like the lack of a signature sound, to a certain extent, is part of my musical identity at the moment. But I recognize there are issues with the accessibility of a body of music that flits so frequently between genres. Maybe. OR maybe skipping genres between songs creates an artistic platform more cohesive to the short-attention spans of an itunes generation. But, I guess in the past the great artists have been the ones with an original ‘sound’ that you can recognize them by but who still manage variation within that framework.
Some of the greatest acts (Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead) span lengthy careers across multiple genres, but your music smashes them all together into one. How were you brought up musically?
In terms of musical upbringing, I grew up in Papua New Guinea in a pretty musical family, with a combination of Nashville gospel music, and the tribal music of the people there. After moving back to Australia, I always wanted to learn drums so started teaching myself, and also learned classical piano for most of school. When I was 15 I discovered Led Zeppelin and through the next few years got really into all the modern music movements, the main ones being rock, funk, jazz, punk, prog., electronic and folk. So, pretty varied stuff but no different to most musicians I think. Everyone is on their own musical journey…
To date, what has been your most memorable music experience?
There is a swedish Drums/Vocals duo called Wildbirds and Peacedrums that played a show in Sydney last year, in a big old stone building. I think of it as my ‘favourite gig’, and it was right after a long period of being not excited about music at all. The singer’s voice was so powerful that in some songs she just sung un-amplified over the chaos of the drums. Seeing what they did that night with just improvised drums and vocals made me see once again that music is deep and instinctive. That long ago when people first started to create music for the first time, it came from inside them through singing, and through interacting with objects in their environment, like hitting two pieces of wood together. That really inspired me, and it was just after that I decided to record an EP.