Fringe Interview: Q&A With Tim Whitt From Heartache And Drum Beats

Fringe Interview: Q&A With Tim Whitt From Heartache And Drum Beats

We chat with music producer Tim White about his multi-sensory show, Heartache and Drum Beats, showing as part of the Adelaide Fringe…


GLAM: Tim, you’ve covered many facets of music over the past decade or so, from your work in eccentric indie act Central Deli Band, electronica group the Waterslides, producer of Bottle Rockets, and as many people will now recognise you, one of the resident DJs at Zhivagos. Can you extrapolate on how all these experiences informed your new Fringe production, Heartache & Drum Breaks?

TIM: The two biggest things that have come together from all of my musical history are a way of being able to mix multiple genres together and a desire to finally finish an album. I like so much different music that it almost becomes counter-productive. Central Deli, Waterslides and BottleRockets are only the acts that I’ve been a part of that have made it to the public. I’ve had countless side projects that never saw the light of day, I always get close to finishing a recording before suddenly finding myself fascinated with a new music style. I’ve had a one-man folk band, a Chemical Brothers style duo, a punk outfit, a pop punk outfit, an indie rock trio, a ghost-themed blues band and I’ve even written a whole concept album based on Alice In Wonderland that is still sitting on the shelf. I’ll go back and finish that one day.

GLAM: Can you provide a brief run down of the show and what audiences can expect?

TIM: The show is basically an accidental homage to popular culture through music and video. The music is made entirely from bits and pieces of other artists’ music that have been rearranged and stitched together while all of the video footage is sourced from movies, commercials and old Public Service Announcements from the 60s. So you end up with things like the bass line from Pink Floyd mixed with the guitar from Guns and Roses, the vocals from Björk and the piano of Nick Cave set to warped footage from an 80s Corvette commercial and it just changes the context and dynamics of each element into something new and unexpected that still works somehow.

GLAM: This production looks like something for people to really immerse themselves in. As a multi-sensory experience, what types of images were you looking to use and can you explain the process of choosing the sounds and the beats to accompany them, or vice versa?

TIM: This whole project started with me piecing together bits of songs that I knew just for my own enjoyment. If I wanted a guitar line I would think “what song has a part where there’s a guitar and no other instruments? “Today” by Smashing Pumpkins has one at the start…” So I’d go into my CD collection, record that part and put it into the mix. Eventually it grew into a whole album and I was encouraged by friends to turn it into a live show. So I started doing the same thing with video footage, just thinking about my favourite bits in movies and TV and splicing them together with the music where they had the greatest emotional impact. Some parts worked great and others not so much so I approached a good friend of mine, Trav Nash who is a comedian, has a real eccentric mind and a great visual talent, about making some visuals and the final show is the best bits of my videos spliced in between Nash’s.

GLAM: From where did Travis Nash access all the imagery for this project and what type of footage will audiences be looking at?

TIM: I asked Trav if he would be interested in making some visuals for the show and a week later he had video for the entire album with some of the craziest bits of found footage, like people dressed as monkeys riding bicycles and teenagers tripping out on drugs. I have no idea where he finds this stuff, he’s just a magnet for the strangest things.

GLAM: In terms of actually putting this show together, what were the main points of pain?

TIM: Definitely putting together the video is the hardest part. I’ve always been a sound guy and when it comes video, I’m just stumbling around blindly. So it’s all been trial and error in terms of getting all the video together in a usable way and how to run it with the music. I eventually recruited another good friend of mine, Jason Chong who’s currently the broadcast manager at Channel 44 to look over everything and he didn’t swear at me or hit me with anything, so it seems like I’ve done a good job with the video.

GLAM: What type of equipment as part of your performance? Glam saw an image of what looked like some kind of sequencer or retro synthesiser on your FaceBook page.

TIM: Here’s the nerdy part: I’m sequencing everything from Ableton and running 8 channels of analogue audio out of an Avid 003 rack into a mixing console with routing to hardware effects unit, real oldschool dub style. I’m controlling the Ableton audio, the video and MIDI hardware with an old Behringer DJ controller. I spent weeks planning what I needed in terms of hands-on control and the Behringer was actually the best fit. It’s old and crusty and it was hell finding compatible drivers for it on the internet but it’s a solid unit. I’ve toured internationally and played festivals with that little guy.

GLAM: Are these type of multi-sensory performances a sign of things to come in terms of your own musical and artistic aspirations?

TIM: I think multi-sensory performances might be the future for me. After Heartache & Drum Breaks I was originally planning on giving up making music all together and focus on working in sound design for film and games (which I’m still doing) but to be honest, I don’t think I can ever fully give up creating music. I already have an even more experimental project lined up after this where I’m going to attempt to make a musical piece using only sounds recorded around Adelaide. If it works and I get to perform it somewhere, it would still be really dull watching me stand on stage playing a bunch of noises so it will need something visual to keep it interesting. Don’t be alarmed if you see me wandering around the city with a video camera and a microphone in the next few months.

Heartache and Drum Beats is on in the Garden of Unearthly Delights in Deluxe on Monday February 29th and Monday March 7th at 8:30PM.

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