There are many ways to describe Tim Engelhardt. Producer. Musician. Artist.
But the single word that describes him most accurately is “prodigy”. His music may have the emotional and sonic complexity that can only come with age, but Tim has actually found an immense level of success relative to how young he is. So young that when he first started performing in clubs his father would have to accompany him in order to play.
Now years after his introduction into dance music, Tim is one of the most exciting acts in the circuit. His utter dedication to his craft has earned him releases on some of the most notable labels in dance music like Innervisions, Poker Flat, and Vivrant, and he brings that dedication to every one of his shows by opting for live performances over DJ sets practically every time he steps on stage.
We are so thrilled Tim is returning to Clinic, and before he hits The Sayer’s Club we spoke to him about his connection with Ableton, his interactions with his more seasoned colleagues and more.
HL: This will be your second time playing Clinic. What brought you back to our humble midweek party? What do you enjoy about playing during the week as opposed to a weekend?
TE: I really enjoyed the cosiness and intimate setting that Clinic Wednesdays is about. I get along really well with the guys so it just feels right to play for them when in LA. Also for me as a touring artist, having a midweek gig sometimes comes in really handy, since it’s easier to arrange and also, you’re more likely to be well-rested than on a weekend.
HL: Throughout your career, you’ve hit most if not all of the major cities in the States. What do you think of Los Angeles? What are some fond memories of this city?
TE: I haven’t been to LA for longer than 2 days in a row, so I honestly can’t judge but the gigs were pretty good always. Touring life… no fond memories.
HL: I read that you were playing music since the age of seven but your discovery of Ableton Live is when “the tale started.” After so many years in music, what was it like to finally find the medium that clicked for you?
TE: It almost felt like I found a system in which to work with all the elements, structures and patterns I found or learned about before. It took a while until I was able to connect the dots but it totally changed how I work and also actually made produce towards a result, rather than playing around without intention.
HL: Most often when you play gigs, you’re performing a live set rather than DJing which, for the readers, means you’re only playing your own music. Though one of the reasons dance music is so closely associated with DJ sets is because DJ sets allow you to adjust for the crowd very efficiently. How do you adjust for different crowds using only your own music?
TE: Obviously I am more limited than any DJ, but at the same time, it also makes for a very cohesive experience, because every sound that you will hear comes out of my hands and will fit into my soundscape. I feel like because of that, a lot of energy comes up which wouldn’t be there in a DJ set.
HL: Where do you see your live set heading in the future? Will it always be just you up there? Could you see yourself touring with a band?
TE: I could totally imagine myself playing with a band, playing my music in different arrangements, or play with a bunch of friends in a rather improvised setup.
HL: You got started in music at a relatively young age and have collaborated with many artists who are much older. When you work with older artists what sort of lessons do you find yourself learning from them outside of music?
TE: I think it’s easier to accept opinions from people who work in the same scene, have made similar experiences, so taking on advice from older colleagues is definitely something I turned into a habit. First to mention would be to not drink when on tour, eat light and some travel hacks I didn’t know about in the past. Then also I feel like the longer you do this, the closer your opinions actually get, so in a lot of cases I would have a discussion with someone who’s in music and they have a really similar opinion on things, whereas with non-music people you probably would encounter a different opinion that is completely contradictory. This is why so many times the conversations I have with other musicians feel like I’ve been going through them already and don’t really excite me that much.
HL: One common theme I found in reading your interviews is that you reject the idea of planning and focus more on trusting the journey, following your gut. How would you broach this subject with someone who has yet to find the success you have in music?
TE: You’re right, most of the things I have done so far haven’t been planned but then again, I don’t really reject planning, it’s just life always has other plans.
If I had to bring this concept closer to someone that is starting out in music, set goals for yourself that motivate you rather than plan something out. That would be like “doing an EP for label X” but rather in the sense that it comes close to the quality of said label. When you actually finished these tracks, try to realistically sense where those tracks might be a good fit and send them there. This is how I do it, for example: “No More Words” on Innervisions was supposed to be part of a 4-track EP I did on Poker Flat. When I finished that EP, the song didn’t really go well with it so I dropped it from the EP. A few months later we signed it to Innervisions.
HL: 2019 is coming to end. How do you feel about this year looking back? What do you have planned for 2020?
TE: 2019 has been a year with a lot of lows and highs, for me it was about personal change too, I moved to Cologne, set up a new studio and all sort of things. I’ve been working on a lot of music, a new album, couple of remixes, couple of EP’s which are all scheduled to release in 2020. I can’t tell much right now but there’s music confirmed already on Poker Flat and Stil Vor Talent.
Tim Engelhardt will be playing Clinic on Wednesday, November 20. Tickets are on sale HERE