Timothy Clerkin on Running “Insult to Injury” and Encompassing Music Genres
A conversation with Timothy Clerkin about the direction for his label as well as music and what’s next in line for him.
Foto: Bandcamp / Timothy Clerkin
Timothy Clerkin is a man who clearly has a lot on his plate. Aside from teaming up with Nathan Liddle-Hulme to form the DJ duo Eskimo Twins a decade ago, he has also gone solo, which started by taking the name “Heretic” as his initial moniker. A few years later, he had decided to retire the name and start a new chapter by using his own, enabling him to do whatever he wants and put out an assorted mix of music under “Timothy Clerkin”. As a music producer with an assortment of genres on the go, his sound changes from time to time, starting from acid house, breakbeat, techno, to a little bit of pop, depending on wherever his head’s at. He’s also a label boss himself, launching “Insult to Injury” just last year because he wanted to give other musicians a much better appreciation rather than just letting demos go to waste. As the man himself has been brought by Dekadenz to play in Jakarta for the first time, we called him up to have a chat about the different sounds in his music, the direction for his label and what’s next in line for Timothy Clerkin.
The name “Heretic” was your moniker before using “Timothy Clerkin”. What was the reason behind retiring the name and changing to the current one?
“Heretic” was an idea I had about a decade ago, it was supposed – it was a whole concept that included lots of science narratives to do, but trying to include them in art. I just got a bit bored of it to be honest. The restrictions were posing of what I wanted to make. I just didn’t really enjoy it anymore. I’ve been doing it for 3-4 years, it’s just time for a change, really. There’s a lot more varied music I would like to put out, and I think just changing to my own name then I can put that project to bed and I could just put out pretty much whatever I want now under my name.
So it’s basically you trying to move on from your old self.
Yeah exactly (laughs).
Aside from DJing solo, you’re also a part of the Eskimo Twins. What differentiates the two in terms of sound?
Before I left London, I had dinner with Nathan who’s the other Eskimo Twin. We haven’t DJ-ed together for a while, he’s got a job, a house and he’s got married. We’re not split up, I don’t foresee that conversation ever happening where we’ll put it to bed, so I still consider myself in Eskimo Twins. But just funnily enough, before I left London, we had an offer from a label to do a new track as part of their 10-year compilation. So when I get back to the UK, we may do a fresh Eskimo Twins thing, but it’s not really either of our priorities at the moment.
What makes us different is Nathan. Just the missing man. That’s all. I mean, musically, Eskimo Twins was a bit more Timothy Clerkin sounding than Heretic, so the only thing missing at the moment is Nathan’s input. Having said that, when Eskimo Twins started a decade ago, the musical landscape was very different, we were probably making different sound in music. However, the way I approach it and my influences haven’t changed. It’s just Nathan’s input.
“Insult to Injury” is a music label you launched along with the Ransom Note which houses artists such as Bawrut, Dark Circles and yourself. Why did you find the need to launch a new label in the midst of existing ones?
In the Ransom Note, we’re just getting so many good demos coming on a daily basis that couldn’t fit into the Ransom Note schedule. They were just piling up and then sometimes going to worse labels when we knew that it deserved a better and bigger release. So then I just said, “well I’ll start taking some of these if you don’t mind”, the first two releases were just ones we all really loved but just didn’t have time to put out on the Ransom Note.
So that’s kind of why it was born and now it’s kind of taking on a life of its own. But it’s just such a mishmash, there’s no overarching theme or concept for “Insult to Injury”, it’s just music that we all really really like that we want to put out. If it passed the test for two out of three of us, we’ll do it.
So it’s kind of like something you picked up along the way then?
Yes. I’ve been DJ-ing for probably almost a decade now and at no point before last year did I have any ambition to start a label. It was just that all these good music were being made and we couldn’t see it going to waste.
The titular track “Knife Edge Heart” has elements of pop and shoegaze in it while also sounding like a song about heartbreak. Has this been your motive all along?
That depends on how you interpret it. If you interpret it as heartbreak than yeah it is. That song has been in the making for a long time, I can’t really remember when I started it, it was a long time ago. Natalie Reiss is a good friend of mine who I’ve worked with a fair bit, and I knew I wanted to get her on a song somewhere and I had a rough demo of “Knife Edge Heart” which wasn’t called that at the time. I kind of played it to her and she went “I can do something with that”, and I think we just went down to my kitchen, set-up the microphone and she put down a rough demo of it – because the lyrics were not particularly complex, she did it in about 5 seconds. That works. Amongst other things I’ve always been a massive fan of shoegaze and kind of wobbly guitars and all that, and after she put her vocals on it, I thought we could probably benefit from a couple of guitars so we threw those in as well. From an influences point of view, it comes in 3 quite different direction. Natalie’s naturally quite pop and I am not at all so it’s nice to have that influence. It’s a good collaboration, it’s one of the best collaboration I’ve done in terms of artistic merit.
Your EP “Serenade” also has a rather different sound as it has traces of breakbeats and acid house. Does this mean that your music would go through a darker route on your newer releases?
I’ve always got something of some genre on the go, so it really just depends what gets signed and when. I think “Knife Edge Heart” is actually older than “Serenade”, it just took a long time to get that one together. So no, basically I’m making techno, acid, breakbeat, weird ambient and now apparently pop as well. So, I’ve always kind of got at least 5 genres on the go depending on when they come out. So, to answer your question, there is no direction whatsoever. It’s just wherever my head’s at, really, and what is fun or what I get inspired by in the studio whether that’s a piece of music or just a sound of the synthesizer.
You are going to play alongside Dekadenz, the collective who’s known for pushing forward the scene of underground dance music in Indonesia. Have you prepared anything exciting?
I left London in early December and I’ve just been away in hotels basically since then. I tried out a few things when I’m around in Australia and New Zealand, I definitely got some ideas for a few bits and bobs that I think I want to do in Jakarta. But then also, there’s no point in planning too much because I’ve never been to Jakarta before, nevermind playing there. I’ve never been to this venue. I’ve got a few things up my sleeve that I’m hoping that I’m going to get to play and I’m hoping would work. But at the same time, I’m just going to go with the night. I have over-prepared things before and it’s been an absolute waste of time, so we’ll see what happens on Friday.
This is going to be your first time playing in front of the Indonesian crowd. Do you have any expectations?
I’ve only spoken to Manfredas about it. He said it was amazing, and he said he had a really good time and everyone was very professional and it was good. A friend of mine, a housemate in London, grew up in Jakarta and he’s a DJ as well. And he said – well he’s left Jakarta so he doesn’t really know what it’s like at the moment, but he said it used to be quite hit and miss. Now I’m assuming because these guys are involved, this is going to be a good party. I think my expectations are, it’s going to be a good party. If what Manfredas says is true then I’m excited.
What’s next in line for Timothy Clerkin?
All sorts really. In terms of the label, I’ve got a few releases coming out, the first one we’re doing this year is going to be a compilation of the last Type-303 EP, just kind of hardcore rave-y thing which got 3 very unique different remixes. I’m actually excited about that. Then I’m doing a new EP by Tom from Psychemagik that is a new side project of his which is kind of electro-y breakbeat-y stuff, just got one of the remixes back and that is absolutely amazing. We’re just waiting on the last one, I’ve got a feeling that shaping up to be the best record we would’ve put out on “Insult to Injury”. I’m really happy with that.
Then we’ll do a couple of “best of” compilation because then it would be either like 6 or 7, we’re going to put out the compilation either on vinyl and/or cassette. Then, I’ve got 3 EPs this year, next one on the Ransom Note, and the other two I shouldn’t say. A lot of remixes and then just continuing to do shows when I get back to Europe next week. Along with all that I am moving from London to Amsterdam when I get back next week as well, so that’s going to be a big change. Trying to run a label based in London from Amsterdam is a whole new set of challenges, I can’t wait. In Amsterdam, things are really happening there at the moment, there feels like a very exciting vibe in the scene. I’ve been in London for about 10 years and I’ve become quite jaded by it. So I’m really excited to be there.