Truancy Volume 91: Timbah

We’ve been fans of Timbah ever since his first EP Can’t Love Without You. Two long, quiet years have passed since that offering which we called “like being served a plate full of tropical fruit after a decade of microwaved Supernoodles” but now he’s back on the warpath. His new EP Flow Poke, again out on Bad Taste Records, embraces a tougher side of club grime music whilst retaining a lot of the melodic sensibility that garnered him a lot of fans first time round. Although equally suited to our Functions of the Now series, the general consensus here was that a Truancy Volume might allow Timbah to fully showcase his predisposed diversity, and boy, did he come through. We were also lucky enough to get a few words on some extremely pressing matters including, but not limited to, The Lion King, Cossack dancing and, of course, Drake.

Hey man. Thanks for the mix and for taking the time to talk to us! How you doing? “Absolutely peachy.” Before we get into the nitty gritty, we were interested in finding out a bit more about the man behind Timbah. What are a few things we might not know about you? “Very little actually. I’m crazy obsessed with Adventure Time at the moment but it seems everyone is. And I guess that’s kinda obvious from that ‘Lady Rainicorn’ riddim I made. Are any of its viewership actually little kids? Seen me through some great times, that show. Big up James Baxter.”

We heard you were doing a few languages at university? If not making music, where would you envision yourself in 20 years time? “Yeah, I’m just coming to the end of a degree in modern languages, currently cramming my head with all the Russian and French idioms I can manage. Personally, I’ve never really seen music as more than a hobby. I’ve always just wanted to DJ at club nights and make riddims when it suits me, but I don’t really feel like I’m owed a career out of that. I’d actually really like to do something with the European Commission… but I hear getting a job is pretty hard these days so we’ll just wait and see what happens.” We were also wondering about the name ‘Timbah’. Obviously there’s the link to your real name but is there any special story to it? Also, are you aware of these guys? “Australia’s answer to the Dave Matthews Band”!! “Lion King was a big film for me and I always thought Simba’s name was dope. So I took it and put a T on it so it sounded like my real name. Also, yes, until recently I didn’t have a Facebook artist page and promoters kept tagging that band! They must have been so perplexed to have seen their name popping up alongside DJ Q in those statuses. They probably don’t even know who he is.”

Stream: Timbah – Thunder Clacks (Bad Taste Records)

You grew up in Nottingham but are now based in Sheffield, is that right? What can you tell us about the scenes there? When you hear about UK music you’ll always hear about the obvious places such as London, Manchester, Bristol, Glasgow etc. etc.. Would you say they’re unfairly overlooked? “Yeah, this is my last year in Sheffield then I’m gonna have to decide where to go. To be honest, this whole idea of towns and their musical scenes is hard to comment on because everyone has different reasons for liking or disliking them and, actually, a lot of promoters in other towns just follow London trends with their bookings anyway. For a town to get put on the map, it really has to sort out its own vibe and come through with its own producers. I think Wigflex really did that for Nottingham a while ago with their bonkers garage mutations. More recently the Tumble Audio lot are coming through doing the same thing. When it comes to Sheffield… obviously the bassline scene is just dumb. Off Me Nut crew is the best thing going for pushing madhead bassline riddims, and have been doing so for years with a complete disregard for all the passing trends in music. I love Sheffield for that, everybody here literally goes in. Also, once a year all the soundsystem guys take their shit to the most beautiful locations in the middle of the peaks and everyone goes and parties there. You don’t get that in London.” Is there anybody coming out of these places that we should quit sleeping on? “Out of Notts – KilljoySergic and LykaTOYC and out of Sheffield – Checan and Deadbeat. Maybe nobody is even sleeping on those anymore? Its real hard to gauge how big they’ve gotten.”

Both of your EP releases so far have been out on Bad Taste Records. Would you talk a little bit about your relationship with them? “So when I got to Uni, I went to a few Bad Taste nights and they were booking the sickest artists. I wanted to be involved, just to DJ really. I sent some tunes through to Dulla who owns the label and he was like “Yeah, let’s do an EP”. I was real slow at making tunes so it took me a whole 6 months to put an EP together which was Can’t Love Without You. Then I just stopped making tunes for pretty much 2 years. That was dumb. More recently through loads of Dulla pushing me I put together this Flow Poke EP and now it seems like I’ve got a much better speed of production, so maybe this is the start of me going harder on the production front.”

The video for Flow Poke is so great man! How much input did you have into that? “Haha, literally none! Dulla was in New York and just went and made it, and when I saw it I was just dumbstruck. Do New Yorkers get bothered on the way to work every day by this madness? I didn’t even know people could go that hard on a train…”

Stream: Timbah – Flow Poke (Bad Taste Records)

There’s a pretty noticeable difference in the sounds between your former and latter releases. You seem to have gone head first into the tough, nasty riddims! I guess with the two year differential it’s only natural but was there anything in particular that triggered that? “Well, I guess my first EP was a lot more introverted and I do like listening to music like that. But whenever I DJ’d, I always did just like to shell down the place. None of the tunes off my last EP were good for that. So I didn’t really end up playing my own stuff in sets, which I always thought was a shame. Equally, sometimes promoters would book me expecting me to be a sweet boy and then I’d just shell down their club. This new EP suits my DJing style a lot better, I’d say.”

One thing that’s definitely carried over is this ear for a melody which you really seem to have. You mentioned at the time of the first release that your music was heavily inspired by the likes of Rustie and Zomby who we think this also applies to. Is there anybody else in particular who has influenced your more recent work? “I guess Slugabed for being such a guy and certain dope peers in the scene, like Gage. When you’re in contact with people like that, they sorta push you to go harder and do more stuff. Anybody who goes in for making a verging-on-being-stupid tune and somehow manages to make it work really is an inspiration to me. I’d say this new EP is much less a product of many other producers’ influences. It’s more like just a load of sounds that I really liked and arranged in a way so that they weren’t completely unlistenable.”

You’ve talked before about vocal samples making a track more “human”, can you expand on this? Where do you find inspiration for your samples from and how do they work into your production? “Basically, a good sample can add an awful lot to a track. Once everyone hears a set of words, they have something to associate the track with and that makes the hooks a lot more effective. A lot of the recent samples I’ve taken recently are from US rap tracks. I think I’m drawn to them because they make a nice change from all the samples everyone seems to be drawing from grime interviews at the moment. I’m a big fan of leaving random spaces in my music. The vocals fill that space nicely and give the tracks a kind of personality.”

A lot’s been made of the “grime renaissance” we seem to be going through at the moment . You’ve got the Boxed guys getting a lot of recognition, Her Records, of course Night Slugs and Fade to Mind. The list goes on. Being somewhat in the centre of it all, we’d be interested to get your two cents. It must be an exciting time to make grime? “Really really good time in music, yup. Before this grime renaissance, everything seemed to be saturated with house. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against that music but whilst the house scene has always been going strong with a dedicated following since the 90’s, there has never been a time where it literally took over everything. Listening to a four to the floor beat for over 9 hours sure is tedious and I, along with many others, felt like I was forced into doing that for a whole year of my life which I will never get back, because of there being a lack of other nights to go to. I’m so glad we got Gs like the aforementioned grime guys coming to make clubbing fun again. We can all go mad to that music a lot more easily. Right?”

We’re a big fan of your remixes too! You’ve exchanged a few with Druid Cloak, both for him and a release on his label. How do you go about them differently? What with already having the source material and not having to start from scratch. “Yes! Druid Cloak is a badman. I really like doing remixes, probably more than making original material to be honest. I usually just take a few elements from the original track and go and experiment with them. That process is far less difficult than building my own riddim from scratch, so I’m always up for it.”

Stream: Druid Cloak – Sterling Thrones (Timbah Remix)

Your Truancy Volume has elements of R&B, hip hop, Jersey and more. What can you tell us about it? Is this the sort of stuff we’re likely to hear you play out in the club? “I guess my sets depend largely on my mood. I love going in stupidly hard when I play at grime nights, but other times those sounds just don’t seem appropriate. With this mix, I wanted to play all the stuff that I’m listening to at the moment and I think the lack of grime in it has actually made me reach further and for tunes that I wouldn’t usually play. Also, because of this whole grime resurgence, we’ve been hearing an awful lot of mixes that are full of crashy stop-starty pulse sounds recently, and whilst that all works well in a club, it ain’t the best home listen. People can consider this mix as a welcome break from their crashy bang bang grime internet forrays. You’re welcome.” How do you go about creating a mix, or more specifically, a club set? Is a lot of it based on what you’re feeling from the crowd? “Definitely. I have a few tunes that will always definitely get played every time I do a set, but largely I gauge what the crowd are feeling and stick on that vibe.”

You could have easily stepped into our Function Of The Now series, and even had a shoutout from Gage in our most recent, are you keen to show fans your versatility? “Yes! Big up Gage! I think versatility is important, and yeah, although I play a lot of grime, I don’t want to necessarily be associated with any scene. The music scene changes real fast and if you put all your efforts into developing just one sound, you kinda look like a massive douche when that sound is no longer a big deal.” It’s a strong tracklist, I take it you’re as big a Drake fan as we are here at TT Mansion?! How do you go about your track selection? “I absolutely love Drake. He’s so real. Literally the whole mix is just a big build up for the arrival of Drake so we can proper jam to him at the end. Track selection was fun for this mix because it wasn’t a question of ramming in all the exclusives I could get off other DJs, but just looking through all my playlists and finding my favourite tunes. I’m real happy with it.”

What does the rest of this year hold for Timbah? Can we catch you play anywhere? “Yes, already got a release lined up with Tumble Audio, which will actually have tunes that are even more club-ready than the last EP (if you can imagine that). Got a few nights coming up in April, one in Nottingham and one in Manchester, look out for them.”

Of course, we have to end on the Truants classics. What’s your favourite drink and when was the last time you danced? “Mountain Dew, and the last time I danced was in front of a class of kids I was giving a Russian language taster session to coz they had never heard of the Cossack dance. What is my life.”

Stream: Truancy Volume 91: Timbah by TRUANTS


Missy Elliot and Vybz Kartel – Bad Man
Anti-G – A Hype Up System
Night Drugs – G-Funk
Robin Thicke – Give It 2 U (Trippy Turtle remix)
Kingdom ft. Naomi Allen – Take Me
Littlefoot – Sell My Soul
Mumdance – Smasher (Sped up to 135bpm)
Chesslo Junior – Cashwave
Ghost Mutt – Rumble Pak
Knxwledge – Inoticed
King Henry – Enough Love For Both Of Us
Slugabed – Smile 4 Me
Tink – Bonnie
XTC – Functions On The Low (Milktray refix)
Dre Skull ft. Popcaan & Megan James – First Time (Sinjin Hawke remix)
Kanye West – Mercy (Schlachthofbronx edit)
Timbah – Thunder Clacks
Danny Brown – BAB (The Titts bootleg)
UGK ft. Outkast – International Player’s Anthem (Timbah remix)
Deft – The Count
DJ Rashad – CCP
Schlachthofbronx – G String Track
Nicki Minaj – Did It On ‘Em
Drake – Come Thru

Matt Coombs