The electronic wunderkind from Westerwald on his journey so far - and why he's only just begun
Every DJ or electronic music producer biography ever written includes, at some point, the words "his/her love affair with music began at an early age". This is actually a legal requirement, or at least so you could be forgiven for thinking.
But in Tim Engelhardt's case, it happens to be true - the lad from Westerwald, Germany had his first record released when he was just 14 years old. The All Eyes On You EP on Playmusic Productions in 2012 was the record in question, and since then there's been no stopping him, with a string of single and EP releases on respected labels such as Poker Flat, Manual Music and Sincopat.
And it's Poker Flat that's now the home to his debut artist full-length, Moments Of Truth. Released just last week (5 May), Moments Of Truth is an engrossing, engaging listen (and one definitely best served whole) that sees Engelhardt veering away from straight-up club cuts towards a more thoughtful, laidback style. The influences of his classical training have seldom been more apparent than they are here.
He's quoted on the album's hype sheet as saying, "If I had to describe the album, it would be like this: it’s mainly songs that I recorded at night, they are memories of deep, honest and vulnerable moments where everything around me disappeared and I was just absolutely lost." But we wanted to find out more, so we got in touch for a quick chat...
Your background from a young age was in classical music. Who or what were the inspirations that led you towards electronica?
"That would be probably Robert Babicz, Gui Boratto, Marek Hemmann... to name a few."
You released your first single when you were just 14. How did your parents, teachers etc feel about that at the time... and how do they feel about it now?
"I think my parents were quite proud of me, because they knew how much work I put into my music I had the impression that other people might not have taken it seriously back then, even though I got great feedbacks on the record.
"Now, with a string of releases out on some of the best labels out there, remixes all over the place and an album on Poker Flat, I'm sure the outside perspective has changed and the appreciation for my work grew significantly! To me, it's still the same thing though. I'm trying to grow as an artist and it's amazing to have such good reactions to that on a daily basis."
How do you feel your classical background/training has influenced the music you make today?
"You can most definitely hear it in my melodies. I work a lot with anticipation and resolution to create tension, as this is simply what I love to do and it comes out of me somehow."
The album comes on Steve Bug's Poker Flat label - how did you come to hook up with them?
"My booker and manager Marcel has a good connection to Steve and they had known each other for years. I always liked the music on the label and it was a dream come true when they signed the first record from me."
Many producers these days seem to release three or four albums before they make a blip on the radar, but your debut album's coming a full five years into your career. Was it a conscious decision to wait a while?
"Interesting question! I never really thought about that in this particular way, I just felt I wasn't ready for a project of this size before. After working on this for almost three years, it felt right to let it go and release it now."
The hype sheet for the album mentions the influence of "the rolling hills and sprawling forests of Germany’s Westerwald". Care to tell us more about that?
"Yes, that’s where I live right now: far away from big cities, in a village with 300 people. It’s something I am connected to everyday and I guess it’s the reason my music is mostly calm, slowly evolving and atmospheric."
How would you describe the sound of the album to someone that's never heard your music before?
"As I said before, calm, warm and inviting music that offers you either to sit back and get lost in sound or dance to it, too. It’s very important for me that the album ‘works’ in a living room just as well as in a club, especially that was the case for the more beat-orientated cuts on it."
And for existing fans who do know your previous work, what would you say is new here?
"I would say there’s a different kind of energy on the album tracks, which I didn’t really have on the releases that I did before. It definitely dives into the calmer, more laidback sides of electronica, which is very new for me too. I just felt I could do something else here than on the EPs I release."
Any plans to promote the album via live shows etc?
"Yes, I’m playing regularly this summer in various clubs and festivals. There’s plans to make bigger tours happen this year, but I can’t tell you anything specific about this yet."
Single out by age 14 - check. Release an album on the iconic Poker Flat label - check. Be interviewed in iDJ magazine - check (ha ha). What ambitions do you have left to fulfil?
"Of course there are many adventures to follow. I don’t have a particular goal in mind right now, so I just see which doors will open for me in the future. I just want to continue the story with the music that I really like."
Long-term, do you see yourself always working in the field of electronic/club/dance music, or is this just a launching point?
"Right now, I really enjoy it and the thought of quitting this scene hasn’t crossed my mind yet. I’m a production fan and I love to produce music, so for me this is like a dream come true at the moment.
"I’m also getting more into playing live, and that’s something I want to develop in the next years and take it to the next stage artistically. So yeah, I’m only at the beginning of my career."
Finally, what else is going on for you right now, that iDJ readers need to know about?
"I’m currently preparing a bunch of releases that will surprise you and that are going to be unleashed in the next couple of months!"
Words: Russell Deeks
Moments Of Truth is out now on Poker Flat Recordings