Tim & Sanky - A Conversation On Record Collecting & New Mix
by Herb Essntls
A month ago
Let us introduce you to Tim and Sanky, Englishmen, New Yorkers, Record collectors, Natural creatives, wonderful people and this weeks Musical Hosts. Listen to their mix "Stand In The Sun" on this page or navigate to our SoundCloud page.Name: Tim Overill
Occupation: I work for a British fashion company.
Resides: West Orange, NJ
Occupation: Failed musician.
Resides: Williamsburg, NYC
First off - thank you for being our Musical Hosts this week and for together this fantastic mix for us. Tell us about it - what was the process of creating it and/or what mood did you want to set?
Tim: We basically picked a bunch of records we’re enjoying right now, but tried to pick blocks of things that went together, maybe 4 or 5 tracks sections. Then we picked some things to bridge these sections, leading to certain key tracks we knew we wanted to include. We shared a few things back and forth, then stitched it all together. There’s definitely a lot of reflective, kinda emotional music included, no doubt informed by the current situation we’re living through. That said I hope there’s a couple of joyous moments in there too, a counterpoint to the introspection, and a reflection of things to be thankful for, brought into focus.
Sanky: Maybe due to our age(s) we’ve luckily lived through a lot of phases of music culture and so you end up searching wider and wider after 30 years of buying records and I guess these varied influences have played a key part in me and Tim's musical connection. I sort of lean more towards the slower end and maybe more poppy stuff so the combination works pretty well. It’s familiar territory to play eclectic music of course there’s nothing new about that but we often hit very similar records accidentally that are fairly off the beaten track. However this time I knew almost none of what Tim sent me. Damn. I think it was always the aim to pull some uplifting music on the emotional side but ultimately making a foot tapping joyous mix.
You two are slightly different from the previous Musical Hosts as you rarely DJ in public (at least nowadays) and instead are more focused on the “digging” and record collecting side of things - is this a clear divide in the community or are you two just mavericks?
Tim: I don’t think there necessarily is a divide, some of the best DJ’s I’ve heard are consummate diggers.
Sanky: I concur, Siba (R.I.P) a seasoned record hunter from Croatia was one of the finest people I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know. I remember having a (funny) heated record chat at Love International with her and she told me she always preferred hearing collectors rather than dj’s play as their references were different which I pretty much subscribe to. Maybe we have nothing to lose playing what we truly love rather than “what’s in vogue”, I certainly learned that when I was DJing a lot in my 20’s and got bored buying records I should have had.
Has being primarily collectors, instead of performers, changed the music you’re interested in, as you don’t really have to worry what other people think?
Sanky: Oddly I get asked to DJ a tad more now because I'm a collector. I just want people to enjoy the music as much as me if I play...which sometimes stresses me out.
Tim: I wouldn’t say it changed what I’m interested in, but tastes change over time, but playing out less is bound to be an influence. I’m happy in my niche, but wouldn’t say no to an occasional bar gig that doesn’t mind my self indulgence.
How did you get into record digging and collection? What started it? And why did you keep going?
Tim: I started buying records as a kid, I was maybe about 12 when I started going to record shops every week. In many respects it was just an economy thing, I would have been about 9 when CD’s came in, so there was a plethora of second hand vinyl shops and it was cheap. I could buy a record a week. Music was always a big thing in Liverpool, and there were a lot of amazing alternative record shops. Plus there was just a lot of hanging around as a kid in the 80’s. Nobody needed to know where you were every minute of the day, as long as you got back in time for dinner - so a lot of time you just needed somewhere, anywhere, to go.
Then came acid house, which pushed it into overdrive - the hunt for records. All of this is pre internet, so you had to be out there, and the more you knew folks in the stores, you’d visit and they’d have a bag of records under the counter put aside for you. It was fun, sociable.
The resurgence of interest in disco opened up a lot of interest in genres, as the fog lifted from a decade of the rave, but everything still with a discernible thread running through.
Sanky: My mother was a concert pianist and always had a barrage of people who played other instruments practicing in the house I grew up in and I guess these random weird sounds I heard just kind of stuck to me. So I was always intrigued by collecting weird sounding records. Hearing something for the first time that stands out is really magical, brave in its naivety, sloppily produced but poetic, as if there was a self serving energy source making this record exist even though it was probably destined to be a failure at the time. I first started collecting Rare Soul when I was 14 which is really defined by the existence of musical failure.
Many of the Musical Hosts are creatives or at least involved in jobs like acting, design, performance of different kinds, communications, etc. This is also true for the two of you - why do you think that is?
Sanky: Curiosity I think, looking for what’s in the corners of the word rather than what’s directly in front of you.
Tim: I work in a creative industry, but my job is not creative for the most part. So I guess that answers that question - ha.
Sanky, you have started to dabble in actual music creation now (as opposed to only curation), can you take us on a lil’ journey through your process - and tell us about when we might hear something and maybe what the goal is?
Sanky: HMMM...ok, so I guess it’s just sketching at the moment, trying to find a way of embracing the records/sounds I’ve amassed and translating them into something but that’s not just sampling. There’s so many free tools and samples and heaps of plugins and midi packs etc, but I’ve realized that if what I’m making is closer to performing than “automation” the more I warm to it. Basically if it feels like a human made it - it sounds WAY better to me. (Maybe quantizing is the enemy but then so is groove pool trying to automate sloppy drumming). Currently I've got about 50-60 sketches which I’m trying to edit down and make them into something that feels finished.
Tim, is creating music something you’re interested in trying too?
Tim: Never say never, but I also really enjoy other creative outlets, such as furniture making, gardening, but probably cooking more so than anything. I considered it as a profession at one point after working in restaurants for years. I think there’s something to be said for allowing facets of your life remain as purely pleasurable, I studied Literature, and I much prefer reading without having to analyze (see Barthes). Even more when applied to music, and especially so on the dance floor.
We’ve had private conversations about how restrictions or influences in society can have a profound impact on music being created - like “Northern Soul” from England maybe, and Jazz made in Poland and other eastern states during totalitarian Communism - what (if anything) is the equivalence today? Will we see North Korean Funk emerge soon for example?
Sanky: There’s actually a korean record on the mix at the end. I mean rock and psyche is a massive thing in Korea obviously due to the war and the U.S. Then there’s the yugo disco thing which I always have a soft spot for and that’s a product of it not being an Eastern Bloc country, so they were far more influenced by western music which produced a lot of experimentation in the 80’s.
Tim: I think it’s pretty much accepted that constraint actually helps the creative process, forcing your brain to work harder. It’s actually one of the things I really like about the physical media of vinyl, in that you are forced to condense and choose a finite amount of music, as opposed to endless reams of digital files.
What is your favorite genre of music that can be said to have come about in weird circumstances? Any recos?
Sanky: Everyone who collects records throws you down a new wormhole so it's just what goes with the territory, my last trip to Philly with the Universal Cave guys led me back to hunt down U.S. private press and Italo B-sides sometimes only on mexican pressings.
On a related note though I found an 80’s private press blues record (that ended up being more like psyche / folk not blues) and then sent it to my friend Josh (who’s a not to be named pretty famous musician). He freaked out as the last time he had ever had mention of that exact LP was 25 years ago when his art teacher at school had actually given Josh a copy of the LP as a reminder for him to work harder at his music - or he would end up like the art teaches friend Bob (who made the LP in question) and have to self release his own record (and basically fail).
There’s only 11 people that own this record it seems in the world...that’s pretty weird and it’s led to us becoming close friends and we might make some music together.
Tim: I think genres is stretching it. I think the magic happens at an even more micro level, have you heard that record Magic Dance by Su Kramer? A minimalist electro record on an album of torch songs sung mostly in German - so out of place, but amazing.
There’s a Steve Winwood instrumental track on the mix which I recently discovered, I just love the fact that this has been hiding in plain sight for all this time. It’s not rare, or expensive, but it just ticked a load of boxes for what I’m feeling right now.
Spending time with collectors and music aficionados like yourselves, I’ve come to realize that you talk about music amongst yourselves at the same rate (or higher maybe) that passionate sports fans talk about sports - how much has your music interest brought your own personal community together? IRL? Online?
Sanky: A healthy mix of all the above but I killed my FB and IG 4 years ago and have much less to do with what goes on online, it’s quite exhausting and you realize there’s 100 people obsessing over the same records. Finds out in the field are still way more fun. Also I travel more (or I used to) for music related reasons than anything else. You get much more out of a week in Ibiza than you do staring at discogs.
I know both of you were deep into music before you moved from England to New York - but could you try to describe the impact that this city has had on your relationship with music?
Sanky: I’m fascinated by the fact that Disco, Hop Hop and Punk overlapped each other within a few blocks of each other. You get to meet people that were here and partied then which is oddly grounding, it makes you feel at home here. There’s some great private press records I've found here that would never find their way to Europe, but I do miss being able to jump on a plane and pop to Amsterdam. I made this cardboard 7” box which always comes with me when I travel or if I DJ so I don’t (gulp) overbuy records. (i’ll send the image).
Tim: I moved to NYC in Jan 2005 for the first couple of years was picking up a lot of classics that were gaining a lot of popularity back home, disco, Levan and garage tunes, Loft classics, house. I’d go watch the football at the LFC bar in EV, and spend a few hours at the 11th St flea market, then all the usual shops. The city was steeped in this history. I first went to the Loft in 2004, which was definitely an education. I knew a lot of the records by then, but the presentation, David, the sound, the people - that was pretty special. In comparison NYC felt like a lot smaller scene than back home, but that helped me quickly forge friendships, pretty much all of whom are my circle of friends today - it all came from music.
And finally, in these Covid-19 times - how has this affected your passion for music? Have you been able to spend more time and have you found something new that you might like to share with the readers?
Tim: No change! I can’t really explain it but I’ve bought more house records than usual, nostalgia? Filling in gaps in my Red Zone dubs.
I don’t really get time to hunt for much emerging music but there will undoubtedly be some great new music that’s a product of everyone around the world being stuck indoors fiddling about...DIY culture will always prevail.
Sanky: I found this record in the midst of the chaos (online) which I really love. The combination of synths and (i think) them just jamming on some wooden glockenspiel is very appealing to me. Anything that describes itself as Electronic, Abstract, Electro, Experimental, Ambient is A-ok with me.
Also this is the best “new record” i found recently: