With a rapidly growing discography on a host of hip labels like Gruuv, Nurvous, Connaisseur and OFF Recordings, Nolan’s plush house vibes have been percolating in the sets of the best DJs for a few years now. What might come as a surprise is that they’re the work of established DJ/producer Timo Garcia. Now ahead of a new release featuring Hollywood star Idris Elba,
There's never a dull moment in the career of Timo Garcia. As one of the UK's most skilful and savvy producers and DJs, it doesn't go unnoticed that he's constantly in search of new ways and means to evolve. Although it may come as a surprise to you to learn that the year before last he started releasing music under the guise Nolan. What was the deal there Timo?
"I didn't mention it, I made sure press releases had no mention of it, I just wanted to keep it separate," he explains on the early thinking behind the releases and collaborations under that name — 'Skat', 'Bitter Sweat' with John Tejada, 'Ghetto Bicep', 'Kiss Your Face' and 'House Dance' are a few of the tracks that already have the Nolan stamp.
Originally Garcia had approached a couple of labels with some of his deeper material, but "because I'd done stuff on more big room labels, the cooler, deeper, more underground ones didn't really want the association". So he had a little think about it and three or four weeks later changed the name on the promos. Setting up the pseudonym Nolan, he emailed the demos through again and guess what? They were snapped up and signed on the spot. The words 'fickle' and 'labels' come to mind, but let's not go there.
"It kind of proved my point to myself and made me think that you're fighting a losing battle if you think people are able to not put you in a pigeon-hole and think if you make big room house you make big room house." With the release of 'Behind the Mask' this was perhaps the best track to 'open up' and come clean on the pen name; that and the fact the press shots are quite obviously him.
Timo Garcia definitely likes to mix things up. "It really just depends on the mood I'm in, if I'm on a roll with something that sounds deep and it's a Monday then I'll go down that route." There's a whole lot of music out there with his mark on, partly due to his engineering skills, his own material and work with others. "I like working with people, I find it easy to do collaborations," he explains. His discography and collaborative catalogue is double-take impressive and goes back to around 2005. It was 'The Hang Track' with Manu Delago that gained some major respect and support from the likes of Sasha, Laurent Garnier and Timo Maas at the time.The tune, originally called 'Hang Drum Track' had to be re-named due to the makers of this steel drum-type instrument intervening.
"If you use it like a drum you can damage your wrists,” comments Timo. “It's made by two people in Switzerland and you have to go for an interview with them and learn how to use it before they'll even let you buy one. I was lucky enough to get in with Mani, he's got four I think. He's actually Björk's drummer. He's one of the best."
Going back to start of his career in electronic music, we find out that his surname is not the one he was born with. "Garcia is a friend of mine that I used to make music with," he explains, although they never actually released anything together. They learnt how to use synths in their studio in Amersham, experimenting with old analogue equipment. "He moved back to Spain and took most of the studio with him." At this point, if it's not too cheesy a question, one would beg, where did the name Nolan come from? "It's my real middle name and I went through hell at school because of the Nolan Sisters. I thought I might as well turn it into a good thing!"
In the past couple of years, after circling London, Timo has moved to Brighton. He did a year in Notting Hill, a year in Clapham, four years in Brick Lane and four years in Tufnell Park. And now that he's settled on the South Coast with his wife and baby boy is he enjoying it down there? "Yeah, it's a different pace of life. Everyone's really friendly and they talk to each other. I was seriously shocked in the first week." His studio set-up is now in an old bank vault on the borders of Brighton and Hove, which is a half hour walk from his home. In fact he points out that he now lives in a triangle of half hour walks. "I walk everywhere. I'd never walk in London because you've got tubes and buses. I seem to be getting quite fit walking and the air is fresher," he concedes.
There is something to be said for the sea air and its seemingly creative powers — many other DJs and producers have made a similar exodus. Timo's on a productive roll and has also signed another ingenious project due for release at the end of this month or early March. Wait for it… he's only gone and got Idris Elba to perform vocals on a track that takes a pop at the house scene — Nolan feat Driis 'Children of House'. "It's kind of a little bit of an attack on the industry and the way certain things have gone," he begins to explain of the idea inspired by an American preacher-sounding vocal.
The main contention being DJs that buy fake fans and pay for plays or pretend plays on Soundcloud and Youtube, and "the fact that people are pressing the synch button and they openly admit to pressing 'enter' and then jumping around," Timo boggles. Idris put forward his own thoughts on the project, preferring to shy away from the religious connotations, and so its running theme is a “Why would you do this and why would you do that?” spoken word. Connaisseur Recordings, who have previously released Nolan tracks, were approached to release the gem, mixes of which from Timo Garcia and Of Norway are already in the bag.
Never one to mince his words, Timo's gripe with the dance music industry is two-pronged, on the one hand comparing the EDM 'thing' with the hard house scene of 10 years ago — " a whole different beast on its own and it seems to be promoted at kids" — while reflecting that the deep house 'band wagon' is equally in danger of consuming itself. So, does he approve of the likes of MK, Disclosure and Duke Dumont? "Yeah, real house, well kind of, garage really. I think it's great, when I go to the gym and I hear the playlist and it's commercial radio and there's suddenly MK tracks on and you think, wow, did someone just switch the radio station?" Timo confirms that the scene is definitely going in the right direction when you can get the likes of Breach on the radio everyday.
As well as Nolan and his Timo Garcia productions and collabs there's also the laid-back sounds of T_mo to add to his stockpile — we're talking mood music, all ambient-like, downtempo stuff that he's aimed at TV, film and ads. "I've done seven episodes of Masterchief; the track I did went on something called 'Tension and Suspension', it's got hang drum in it. They use it at the end of the episode where they're just finishing their task and they're running out of time." But we're not done with him yet, Timo's creative juices have also worked their way onto pieces of canvas. After noticing a blank wall where once a large picture hung in his favourite cafe, he arranged for some of his photographs to be blown up as big as they would go. The cafe ordered some and an exhibition later took place. "Things that I've taken on my travels, to Ibiza, Egypt, Brazil, India… ones that stand out. I'm not really into photography other than that, all but one were just taken on my phone."
With all now revealed on his cunning Nolan entity and the awesome forthcoming Idris Elba tune, 2014 also holds a 'Back To the Boutique' album for Skint, a T_Mo chill-out compilation for a yet-to-be-revealed Ibiza boutique hotspot and a full length T_Mo artist album. The words 'unstoppable' and 'luminous' come to mind… let's go there!