Tim Andresen – We need to teach the new generation to pay attention to the skilled DJs

Producer, remixer, DJ, party organiser and label owner, Tim Andresen has his fingers in many pies and his list of accolades is longer than your arm. He is described as Denmark’s busiest house DJ and is the founder of the highly acclaimed What Happens label and it’s now home to some of the finest talents in underground house music and a whole string of his own productions and remixes. One to follow his dreams through equal parts of talent and hard work, Tim is an artist who enjoys the writing, production, engineering and arrangement of his own records. He recently boosted his production portfolio with signings to Savoir Faire Musique, Soulman Music and UM Records to name a few. He has also released records on UK Imprints Azuli – the 2007 smash ‘Everybody’, and as half of the Professional Losers, whom IDJ dubbed ‘the next big Danish housers’ on Fatboy Slim’s label, Southern Fried.

For more than a decade he has not only seen his name appear regularly in the charts but also had support from the who’s who of house music. Add to that his success in compilation CDs while record sales were still something to talk about. These days DJs come and go but Tim remains at the very frontline of the Scandinavian club scene. As one of just a few DJs out of Denmark with truly international reach, he has taken his music to 35 different countries across Europe and far-flung destinations in Asia and South America. He has played some of the finest clubs on the planet including the legendary terrace at Space Ibiza, Pacha Ibiza, the world’s biggest club Privelegé, Ministry Of Sound and Fabric in London. On home ground he is the main resident at the famous Culture Box, one of the most sought after positions for DJs in all of Denmark.

Month in month out, he rubs shoulder and plays next to the coolest and most prolific DJs on earth helping to secure the club it’s unique position with worldwide recognition and 5 awards for Best Danish Club. Before his Culture Box residency, he took care of his monthly Oven Ready night at Vega nightclub, rated one of the best club nights ever to take place in Copenhagen and described “one of the best Friday nights in the world” by Toolroom records boss Mark Knight. His long-spanning career include an extended list of residencies and awards for “Best DJ” and “Most Popular Nordic DJ”.

To sum it up, very few DJs can claim to have had a greater impact on their local club history than him. Never one to rest on the laurels, Tim continues to spread his sound far and wide. Wearing his many hats, he keeps pushing the scene forward. We managed to catch up with ‘Denmark’s finest export’ to talk about his label, the residencies and how he feels dance music is evolving.

Hey Tim, always good to chat with you. Hows your day been?

Yeah very good mate thanks. It’s still quite early in the day and it’s been a nice relaxed start with the sun shining outside. I wish all mornings were like this.

You live now in Copenhagen, for those that would like to visit where is good to go?

Talking about the nightlife, it’s all about getting the insider tips here. The safest bet is definitely Culture Box that runs with quality lineups every week. It’s by far the best club here if you’re after the real clubbing experience and it’s not just something I say because I play there. There is also some decent parties at places like KB18 and other clubs in Kødbyen (the old meatpacking district) as well as quite a few great one offs here and there including Basement and PB43. Add to that we have some really nice cocktail bars with slightly more relaxed atmosphere worth paying a visit. Please be aware and stay away from the obvious tourist attractions right in the town centre. The music is usually very poor and so are the vibes and the crowds there.

Otherwise I will recommend to visit some of the many great restaurants in town. After Noma’s success we have seen Copenhagen explode onto the global food scene as a major player with tons of magnificent places to eat. Most places are within walking distance but you can also rent a bike and drive like we do. It’s fast and easy and with all the bike lanes you’re safe in the traffic too. Copenhagen also offers an endless list of cafés with a buzzing atmosphere, popular both with the locals and internationals.

Summer is nice and to be preferred with lots of outdoor things to participate in including several (free) festivals etc. We even have beaches at Amager and just north and south of Copenhagen which are easy to access with public transport or by bike. People mostly stay inside during the coldest months in winter where weather is usually quite chilly and windy.

Tell us about the what inspired you to become a DJ in the first place?

It goes way back to the eighties. I have always been very interested in new music and from an early age; I was the guy who recorded and distributed the tapes for my childhood friends. I got my first after school job aged 13 and from there on I bought my 1210s and collected vinyls. When I grew up the DJing was put on hold for a few years but from 1997 and onwards, it’s had full focus and then turning it into a professional job in 2001.

So whats the dance scene like in Denmark, does the whole country share your fascination like in Copenhagen?

See this is a tricky one and you have to be careful. There are just a few quality parties in Aarhus and Aalborg (very rarely in Odense too) but no venues are truly dedicated to proper club music on a weekly basis. The best option would be Club Vesteraa in Aalborg but things happen mostly in Copenhagen. That’s where it’s going down.

With your proximity to Malmö, how much of the Swedish scene bleeds into Danish club culture?

We see quite a few Swedish clubbers in Copenhagen every week. With the bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö, trains are now just a 35 mins between the central stations of the two cities. The Swedes always bring good vibes when they come here. There is a small scene in Malmö too but the clubs are known to be closing earlier and they generally face more restrictions than we do. A couple of the more prolific Swedish underground DJs play here occasionally but it’s not like we share resident DJs yet. That may change one day. Who knows?

Your record label, What Happens continues to be successful. What was your vision for starting the label?

In the mid 00s things kicked off with some of the releases I did. Sometimes things were handled perfectly but other times not. I didn’t always see the promotion I expected and some of the labels promised me upfront payments that never happened but released the tracks anyway. Stuff like that. My thoughts were I could do this myself rather than rely on people I had never met in person and didn’t really care about me as a person or as an artist. When I started my own label I wanted to keep a high level of information and give the releases a chance of being heard by key people out there. I also wanted a platform where I could unite the releases, the parties and everything else under the same brand. Made sense and was a natural progression I think.

No doubt you’ve had your ups and downs, but whats been the biggest learning curve about owning a label?

I guess being consistent, dedicated, believe in it despite the sometimes tough times these days and only work with the people you like in real life who share some of the same ideas.

How is the rest of the year planned out for releases?

We recently released the new single from Berlin based Dilby called ‘Don’t Leave Me’. That is soon to be followed by a great collaboration between BiG Al & Rishi K. called ‘Space Queen’. I recently did a remix of that one and it’s due out on Traxsource 22nd September and all other shops 6th October. After that we have a super strong 2-track EP from Marco Grandi and finally there’s a brand new track of mine called ‘Almost Done’ with Antura Records’ owner Ben Teufel on remix-duty in the studio at the moment. We are also compiling a special compilation of fresh and previously unreleased tracks to celebrate our 100th release. We are just a handful of releases short of that now so I’m expecting it to drop early 2015.

Busy boy! haha lets turn to DJing. You’ve been resident at Culture Box for some years now. Do you prefer the security of regular work, or do you miss the jet set life?

I’m lucky I can still do both. I have been playing at the club since 2005 when it opened up and over the years grown to become the right hand man to the management and helping one day a week in the office. It’s a pleasure to work with likeminded people while keeping music as the main thing unlike many other clubs I have been to and played at over the years. I play at the club twice monthly so there’s still plenty of time to travel and play internationally when someone wants me which is great.

How did the residency come about to begin with?

Around 2005 I played regularly with Rune RK aka Kölsch. We were probably the most in-demand Danish DJs around the time and were both extremely busy. When Culture Box opened their doors, it was mostly techno and a slightly different style of house music than what we played back then. However, we both loved the venue and the managers called us in for a chat and we decided to do a back-to-back night which turned out to be a massive success and they immediately offered us a monthly night. For the next years it continued to be rammed to the rafters. Two years on I started my own label and the guys asked me to do my monthly label night there. It quickly gained the attention too while me and Rune slowly grew apart musically and therefore decided to end the night we did together. It’s been 7 truly amazing years with countless label artists and friends of the label creating one of the best atmospheres I see anywhere in Denmark with a truly openminded crowd. It’s a highlight every month and something we’re always looking forward to. Much fun!

How do you find DJing away from your home crowds now?

I really like it and always did! I’m not particularly a big fan of flying and spending time in airports but it’s amazing to go somewhere I wouldn’t normally pay a visit and be able to play the music I love. It can’t be appreciated enough. I have been fortunate to visit many countries over the years and met some amazing people. A few of them I now consider to be real friends. I love to play at parties with good people and great vibes but I’m not desperate for 5 gigs a week and a fully booked calendar anymore and I only say yes to promoters where I can see my music work. I don’t just go somewhere for a fat pay check and a bad experience.

There has been much discussion recently about the art of DJing being lost because of the use of software like Traktor or Serato. Change is inevitable, but is it change for the better in your opinion?

I usually don’t like to fight against the natural changes but DJing technology has brought something I dislike. Way too many people try to become DJs these days without a real passion for the music they play and without the skills to give the crowd something special. That is surely one of the reasons why some clubs have been struggling in recent years. I don’t mind people trying to make a career but I just need to see them live and breath music and being in it for the right reasons. Not just because they went to a festival and got excited. When they are good enough, it’s just fair they get a chance. Not before and not just because they can sell 20 tickets upfront to their mates.

The easy access to the software and the music has had a significant effect on the scene. I do think though that we are slowly heading towards the better now with people realising they can’t expect to play in real clubs just because they have been downloading mp3s from the internet for 4 months and played a couple of birthday parties for friends. Pressing a sync button doesn’t make you good or bad as a DJ but you need to have musical understanding and show creativity to make an impression. So back to the subject… To a certain point, I do agree that the art of DJing has been lost a bit or at least the focus has changed. Another thing… These days headliners mostly get booked for the records they produce (or had ghost producers to do for them). Rarely for their skills in the DJ booth which is a big shame. We need quality to come first and we need to teach the new generation to pay attention to the skilled DJs and not just look at a discography to keep the art alive.

Wow what a great answer! You’ve had a long and distinguished production career. How did you get into making records?

I was introduced to this by my good friend Steen Thottrup (from Miro). He had already been making music for a good decade and I looked him over the shoulder at the beginning before hitting the buttons myself. We did tracks together as Professional Losers. Since then I got my own setup and improved my skills from there while he moved to Ibiza so we went separate ways but remain great friends and still talk about relaunching our teamwork one day. That’s something I look forward to but it’s gotta be with both of us in the same studio. Not just send a track back and forth. We tried that once and it wasn’t really for us.

Which DAW are you using now, and like many, are you producing now totally ‘in the box’?

I have always used Logic. That is what I’m comfortable with and I’m not really using any hardware.

When sending demos to other labels, do you master them or send a rough beta?

Well it depends really… Labels prefer it differently these days. I use Rob Small for all mastering of both my own tracks and stuff for my label. He does a great job at a fair price. Mostly I get my tracks professionally mastered before sending off to others to make them sound as good as possible. It’s not to be underestimated I think and you can never make a second first impression. If a label wants something changed, it’s not a big deal. I just jump back in the chair and change the things needed and we can get a new master done.

And for your label, how do you like demos sent to you?

I try not to pay attention to whether it’s mastered or not but if it is and the quality is spot on, I’m sure it will help to convince me. We prefer a secret Soundcloud link emailed to our email inbox with a small description of who you are and what you have done in the past. I know it’s a cliché and it’s been said before but please do not include 50 other labels no matter it will save you some time. It’s always important to make it personal and please make sure your music fits the sound of the label.

We are always on the look out for new music so if you think you have something that fits our label, feel free to email us at info@whathappens.dk and we will take a good listen.

Away from the music industry, how do you like to relax?

I try to go to the gym or go for a run when the weather is nice (not always to be seen when I look myself in the mirror). I also support a small Danish football club called Lyngby Boldklub and try to watch as many games as possible. I love to go to various restaurants as well as a fair bit of traveling with my family as well as the usual everyday stuff I guess. I always try not to make too many plans during the week and just take it easy in contrast to the weekends.

Well, its been great to chat to you again Tim. Whats the rest of the year and 2015 got in store for you? 

Great chatting to you mate. Release wise, I have new records coming out on UM Records, Ready Mix Records and Savoir Faire Musique as well as the above mentioned so I’m pretty excited and look forward to the rest of the year.

01// Tim Andresen – Almost Done [What Happens]
02// Paul C & Paolo Martini – Bermuda [8Bit]
03// Mihai Popoviciu & Toygun – Micramour (Tuccillo Remix) [Bondage Music]
04// Daniel Dreier & Jens Bond – Prince Of The Night [Highgrade Records]
05// James Dutton – Kahlua ([What Happens]
06// Marco Grandi – Jah Man (Instrumental) [What Happens]
07// BiG Al & Rishi K. – Space Queen (Tim Andresen Remix) [What Happens]
08// Tim Andresen – Lonely House [What Happens]
09// Samu Rodriguez – Laugh It Up (Ben Grunnell Remix) [Pild Records]
10// Tim Andresen – ItUp (Deep Spelle Remix) [UM Records]
11// Matthias Meyer – November Rain [Watergate Records]