TurnTable NXT: Meet Timmy, A Producer That Wants To Connect With Your Soul
The realities of 2020 means our interview had to be done virtually. But the Nigerian bandwidth and screen recording capabilities means we have to switch from Instagram Video Chat to WhatsApp Video Call and finally to Zoom – an app Timmy will use for the first time in order to conduct this interview. Sporting a black Tees with white patterns, Timmy looks relaxed, with a big smile throughout our conversation.
Before the interview, we get into a quick conversation about Lagos and the possibility and risks of travelling to Lagos during a pandemic. “Lagos dey normal, people dey waka with no face masks, nothing” he says, “but me I dey comot with my own mask sha.” Knowing we have to finish the interview before Manchester United’s Europa League fixture, we proceed to the interview.
TTC: Make we start now?
Timmy: Ayy, Na my first interview be this o.
We share a laugh, then I reassure him everything would turn out fine.
TTC: Who is BeatsbyTimmy?
Timmy: I don’t really know why people call me “BeatsbyTimmy,” because to me I feel like it’s just my Instagram handle. But I do feel based on IG, people just call me that and also the fact that Timmy is a common name, people feel like distinguishing me with BeatsbyTimmy. But Timi is my name – Rotimi is my full first name, Oluwadurotimi Adetiloye. Very normal guy, producer, part-time law student. That’s me. Nothing too much, nothing complicated.
TTC: What is your musical background?
Timmy: At the beginning, it was just me listening to music but my parents wanted me to learn an instrument. I wanted to learn saxophone but they [Timi’s parents] didn’t want me to learn saxophone. My dad told me to learn how to play the keyboard. So, I sha dey learn the keyboard.
Secondary school, everybody dey rap, everybody dey sing, so I started rapping too that year. So I was rapping in school, I was in the choir in church, played keyboard and drums. My life revolved around church, school and doing music in one way or the other. So after school, JAMB first dey do us anyhow, I just took the software for producing [that’s FL studio] and I was just trying do something. I look say this rapping no be my way, also thought maybe I could become a DJ but I realized making a name for yourself as a DJ is quite difficult. You know everything you can do, someone else can do it. I just look am, look am, and started making beats. With time, I had more interest in it, passion kept on growing and up to this point.
TTC: What’s your creative process?
Timmy: As a creative, I just try to do new things because doing new things will make you stand out. You know trying different approaches, especially in this kind of work where you need to be identified with a unique style. I listen to a lot of RnB, I listen to a lot of music but I have much love for RnB/Soul and that influences my creative process, whatever I do try to incorporate a form of soul. I feel like as humans we all have emotions and RnB/Soul has that thing that speaks to you.
Timmy: I always try to do this for any type of genre I work on. As an African, I do add the African vibe to my work, so of course most of my drums I always try to make it sound African. But my choice of sound, I need it to connect to your soul, your emotions because I need to feel it first before it goes out. So that’s how it goes for me. Maybe that’s why people don’t find me doing too much club sound because I just want to speak to your soul.
TTC: What was your first paid production job like?
Timmy: The first time I collected money for producing was in 2015 and I know say the guy give me five thousand naira for one beat like that. Lowkey, some people go feel say them dey cheated but me I feel say na me cheat the guy. If I listen to what I did then, mehn I cheated that guy cos that beat no follow at all. But that was the first time I ever collected money for a beat.
Our Zoom connection has broken up and we have to wait for a few seconds to connect again. We need to make sure we can hear each other’s voices and takes another ten seconds.
TTC: So yeah, I can hear you now. Let’s go.
TTC: What is your approach to discussing changes and arrangement with artistes?
Timmy: That’s a very tricky question because there are some artistes you consider to be in your level but e go hard in some other cases. For instance, I’ve been opportune to work with popular artistes and I’m like okay, how we go take talk this one. But if na someone wey dey your level, you fit just tell am say "bro this one no make sense."
Once again, connection is lost and we have to try to reconnect again. Timi leaves the meeting room. It takes a few seconds to reconnect but when it does, I see Timmy playing what seems to be an unreleased song.
TTC: Can you hear me now?
Timmy: Yes I can. For me, I think you need to look at the artiste first and the level of relationship you have with them. Second, you need to know the professionalism of the artiste because there are some artistes you’d work with, they have their fan base that love their music and people they try to pass a message to – and you might not fall into that category or audience. For instance, artistes that relate to the streets directly, their languages, their lyrics, and the patterns in which they go may not be palatable to you. But this is what their fan base love, so there isn’t much that you can do for them [in terms of making changes].
So artistes like that, you just have to allow them express themselves – as far as you trust their level of professionalism – you just have to let it go. For me, most people I’ve worked with, I always try to establish a relationship with them, which makes it easier to tell them things like “why don’t you do it like this” and of course you have to show politeness in whatever you say. Also, there has to be a balance so it doesn’t look like oh you know too much.
TTC: 2020 you’ve already worked with some of the hottest newcomers in the industry, Bad Boy Timz, whoisakin and more. You did “Energy” for Whoisakin and “Don’t Go” for Bad Boy Timz.
Timmy: Right now I feel elated, it looks like my dreams are coming true. I feel most of these things come as opportunities, you really can’t say what tomorrow would be like. So every opportunity that came my way as regards to those songs, I took it. Looking back at those songs, there was no plan or deliberate effort behind these songs. For instance, I remember trying to get a feature with Timz. I remember trying to see if I can compile a project for myself. So I reached out to him to do a collaboration, somehow somehow, I sent him the beat, he recorded on it. We finished the song about two/three weeks before he dropped his EP [Timz]. Of course, he had already prepared songs he was going to drop on that EP.
Timmy: The plan for that song was that maybe he’d release it after dropping his EP and all of that. I feel like God just wanted it to be like that, you know? All those things weren’t planned and somehow…
TTC: It just happened
Timmy: It just happened. Even “Energy” with Whoisakin and any of the songs I’ve produced after that, I never imagined that those songs were going to become what they are today. They just happened. So I always try to put in more work and making sure every opportunity I see, I do something with it. Cos the truth is you never know who is listening, you really never do.
Timmy: You really never know whose listening. Because when I did “Energy,” I wasn’t in a good frame of mind. My brother listened to the song and told me “the song is dope and all that.” But waking up one morning and seeing Mr. Eazi vibing to the song, I didn’t expect that. One lesson that thought me was never to underrate anything or anyone.
TTC: Covid-19 has affected everything directly and indirectly – worldwide, including the music industry. So how has that affected you personally as a creative?
Timmy: I no go lie, in as much this Covid na problem, na blessing o. Honestly, it has given me more time to do anything I want to do musically – the only problem is just that it has reduced my movement. Like sessions I was supposed to have, we couldn’t do that because of the whole lockdown. Also, the kind of gathering you go to, you have to be really careful and all that. Of course, it depends on each person and your plan, but for me, my plans involved making more records and I don’t really have other plans apart from that. Maybe other people had plans to travel and some other things but my plan is just to make music – and Covid hasn’t really affected me in that regard. Honestly, I’ve had more jobs, I’ve made more beats, and I’ve made more money.
TTC: Your dream artiste to produce for, Home and Abroad?
Timmy: Omo, them plenty.
TTC: Alright, name two but pick one male and female artiste at Home and Abroad
Timmy: Okay home, so many people I’d like to work with but I’ll think I would love to something with Wande Coal – I feel like the collabo would be mad. Then for abroad, of course, Drake, everyone knows I love Drake. For female artiste at home, I feel like Teni’s collaboration won’t be bad. Abroad, Rihanna, Ariana Grande or any of the A-list artistes.
TTC: Are you going to try the producer-artiste route at any time in your career?
Timmy: Of course. One of my goals in music is to do my own songs, music that people would love. I don’t have the talent to sing, so that’s the only way I can do my own music. In the near future, when I’ve garnered some form of accolades and have a fan base, of course, I will do it.
TTC: What is the first thing you try to look out for in a song?
Timmy: I look out for the first 30 seconds of a song. It’s like you trying to buy a book or product, the first 30 seconds is what draws you to make that purchase. Someone listens to a song and within the first 30 seconds, they are convinced this is the song that want to listen to. As a producer, I look out for the beat. I look out for the progression of the song – I feel like lyrics is the last thing for me.
TTC: Who do you think are the top five producers in Nigeria at the moment?
Timmy: First, I think every producer is blessed and talented in one way or the other. Also, I don’t think I’m in the position to say who the best is. But producers that I like listening to their works include Killertunes, Sarz, Masterkraft, Coublon and I like Cracker [Mello].
TTC: Away from creating music, what else do you enjoy?
Timmy: I love editing pictures, I could just go outside, take random pictures and start editing. I also try to mash up a little video together, edit videos, listen to music, watch documentaries on YouTube and I play games a lot.
TTC: Speaking of games, I’m guessing football right?
TTC: So FIFA or PES?
Timmy: Haha, na FIFA now. PES na…that PES no too follow.
TTC: You say you are a law student, so how do you balance production and school?
Timmy: Well, I won’t come out and say it is really difficult because I feel if you have two important things to do, and you know you just have to do both, omo you must channel your mind to both and not make it look difficult. I won’t say it has been easy but I won’t say it has been difficult either. When it is time to read for tests or exams, I give room for school. I don’t allow them get in the way of each other. I even think it affects my music more because I know I have to finish school, and when there’s a clash between something important in school like tests or exams, and something important with music, I’d pick school over music. At least till I’m done with school cos I’m in my finals. E no go tey again. I feel like for music I can always do them later, but shey I wan go meet lecturer, tell am say I no fit write test cos say I wan knack beat?
TTC: What’s your biggest production job so far? In terms of the level of artiste or the pay that came with the job.
Timmy: In terms of pay, there are some unreleased songs. In terms of reach, “Energy” because it is still on the map, still trending and it has helped me gain reputation amongst A-list artistes. But I know the big ones are still in the folder.
TTC: You worked with Skales on his Healing Process EP, you produced two tracks on that project, how was the experience working with a seasoned artiste like Skales?
Timmy: The relationship with him wasn’t the sort of say master/superior to someone low. We relate more like 'guys.' It was a humbling experience, for someone like me that is just entering the industry, I feel like I achieved something. Funny enough, I’ve been working with him since 2018, I’ve done a couple of songs for him before this. But I feel blessed that I did something like that.
TTC: Who have you worked with that we haven’t heard yet?
Timmy: Okay, I have songs with Iyanya, songs with Blaqbonez, I’m working on a song with Oxlade, I have a song with Sugarbana, Barry Jhay & Bella Shmurda – that one is out. I have so many songs with Timz.
TTC: What would you like to tell other emerging creatives like you?
Timmy: First thing, anything you do, make sure to put all your effort into it. Another thing is that you should be truthful to yourself. If you do something with your own hands, there is this love you have for it that might blind you to the truth, so always have people around you that would always tell you the truth. If you don’t have people like that, I feel like you won’t go far. When I started making beats, I used to make shitty beats that I honestly thought were dope. But I had people around me that would tell me “guy this beat no follow” and that kept pushing me. That is why I think you always have to do more, you can’t say “I’m a producer, let me stay relaxed and bask in my past glory.” You always have do to more and give constant effort. Always have people that would tell you the truth – if it’s possible, have this one person that you always send what you do to. Also, any opportunity that comes your way, take it and sometimes, no even wait make opportunity come, go find am. I think those three things are key.