Canadian west coast funk hero Timothy Wisdom drops some sageness and insight into what makes him the wise audio wizard he is. Who would of thought keeping all your wisdom teeth would pay off?
Describe the moment when you first realized you wanted to make music?
I remember first hearing He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince when I was in grade 6 (1988) and I knew I wanted to make rap music (it wasn’t called hip-hop back then) but I had no idea how and I was living in Newfoundland where there was absolutely zero urban culture anywhere. I probably had that frustrating feeling that loads of teenagers go through, having thousands of unmade albums locked in your head but no idea how to unleash them into reality.
In grade 9 (1991) my Dad was on his way to New York City for a business trip and I gave him all my summer earnings and asked him to buy me DJ gear. Having watched enough Rap City episodes on Much Music, I knew I needed two turntables and a mixer but wasn’t sure what to do after that. Dad returned with a very cheap setup but he did score a Roland 505 drum machine and the mixer he chose had a 4-second looping sampler in it. I didn’t have very many records so I just recorded beats into the sampler, looped them and then rapped and scratched over top. Later that year I put out a really amateur but gritty hip-hop tape that I passed around my high school.
I hear you’ve been to Burning Man a few times, do you tent or RV? What was your dirtiest moment and what was your most memorable musical experience?
I’ve been to the Burn 7 times now and only tented my first year (which I think everyone should try once). One of the highlights from the 2012 Burn was a magical afternoon when I rolled into Zanzibar with my mates The Funk Hunters. We were seeking a funk throw down that didn’t end up happening so we decided to head over to Zanzibar as we were there the night before and their camp crew said we could stop in and play some tunes, anytime we like. But, when we arrived in the afternoon, Zanzibar was empty and they weren’t willing to open the bar. We talked them into letting us “practice” on the sound system and the boys started rolling out the funk while I chattered away on the mic. In twenty minutes we had a decent crowd and within the hour the place was rammed and they opened the bar. The party went on for hours and was one of the most off-the-cuff random bits of playa fun I’ve had at the Burn.
What is the biggest change you have seen electronic music take in your lifetime?
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Perhaps now there are less frustrated teenagers who want to express themselves but lack the means.[/quote] Electronic music flips into genres every few months but really the formula has remained the same – we all gather together to listen to really loud sounds, hoping for elements of surprise, nostalgia, melodic empathy and/or excitement.
Really the biggest change resides in the technology with which the music is being delivered to the audience. The advent of digital music, as opposed to vinyl, has really opened the doors and allowed many more people to access this medium. Home made software studios allow virtually anyone with a personal computer to unleash the musical ideas in their heads. Perhaps now there are less frustrated teenagers who want to express themselves but lack the means.
How many wisdom teeth do you have and how many have you had pulled?
My line of work doesn’t come with a great dental plan so unfortunately, I don’t go to the dentist as often as I should. I still have all my wisdom teeth but whether or not this is a good thing remains to be known.
Is there a direction that you aren’t doing now but you see taking your music in the near or distant future?
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]I’m striving to put on shows, not DJ sets. [/quote] I’m striving to put on shows, not DJ sets. I’m enjoying the challenge of being an entertainer, a performer. So I’m morphing away from the traditional form of DJing and looking at ways to give people a true “now-time” experience. An experience that is unique and can only be felt and understood at that very moment. The more I progress down this path, the more I’ll incorporate things like singing and dancing and costumes and sets and audience interaction.
Describe your perfect breakfast.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Once I even made cheddar cheese and bacon waffles.[/quote] Waffles!
Anyone who comes to stay with me gets a batch of Wisdom Waffles for breakfast. I don’t follow a recipe so I make ’em different every time. Sometimes they’re apple cinnamon style. Sometimes they’re pineapple coconut style. Once I even made cheddar cheese and bacon waffles. I usually top them with Greek style yogurt, nuts, berries and pure canadian dark maple syrup.
In one sentence explain the D’Groove.
D’Groove is the world’s first digital force-feedback turntable device, enabling the DJ to manipulate, explore and feel a piece of digital music.
Have you developed it anymore?
I built D’Groove back in 2003 for my Master’s Thesis in Computer Science. We shopped the technology around to a few vendors but ended up releasing it into the academic community for scientific purposes – as is the way with thesis’s. I haven’t worked on it since I finished my degree but the original prototype is still in the robotics lab at UBC.
Have you worked on similar projects since?
I haven’t made any controller devices since D’Groove but I have made a really cool music web crawler. It’s a bot of sorts that scans my social network on Soundcloud and finds me tunes that it thinks I might like. It basically does the crate digging for me so I can concentrate on other things. It’s being beta tested right now and when I get some time away from touring and producing, I’ll make a scaled down version that people can use for their own crate digging.
We thank Timothy Wisdom for his time and now supplying us with a craving for waffles. If you haven’t had a chance to catch one of his sets this past festival season be sure to watch his site for upcoming shows in your area and make the effort to check him out next season. We will for sure see you there! Who’s gonna bring the waffles?
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