Debuting in the poll last year after a triumphant first world tour, it’s safe to say there are few artists as unique as Timothy Jude Smith. Once on course to become an alumni of the Sydney Conservatorium Of Music, until his expulsion, that classical training has informed the development of a style which is halfway between live instrumentation and a traditional DJ set — namely, combining deft skills on the trumpet with a keen ear for mixing tracks.
With labels such as Pacha, One Love and the Spinnin’ sub-label headed up by KSHMR, Dharma Worldwide, having released his work, clearly production is another forte.
Enough copies were shifted of 2015’s ‘Freaks’, a collaboration with New Zealand rapper Savage, to go platinum five times over in his homeland, hit the Top 20 in charts across Europe, and become reportedly the biggest single of all time on Ministry Of Sound. Even so, it’s in the flesh that his talent really shines, hence a sell-out UK tour this past spring, with more headline dates across the planet further evidencing what a monumental year it has been fro the Trumpet-Man.
“The greatest thing about 2017 has been playing in countries that are new to me, and to meet and connect with people that love music as much as I do,” he tells DJ Mag.
DJ style: “Electronic music /live trumpet.”
Best known for: “Bringing live trumpet to DJ sets.”
What’s the next new big track? “Hilight Tribe ‘Free Tibet (Vini Vici Remix)’.”
Your Breakthrough DJ/producer of 2016: “Marshmello.”
You don’t see enough musical instrumentation in house and techno these days — that is unless you’re watching Timmy Trumpet in the mix. Timothy Jude Smith, to use his full name, has been responsible for putting a little ‘live’ back into the DJ booth, and lighting up the scene in his native Australia in the process. Don’t think this is just a case of right place, right time either. The man in question attended the Sydney Conservatorium Of Music, and received classical instruction during his time there, so yeah he can read a score sheet and much more besides.
No doubt much to the disappointment of his elders at the time, but to the benefit of four-four lovers everywhere, Timmy’s enrolment at the coveted institution ended in tears — or at least an expulsion — after he played a prank that didn’t go down particularly well. Unperturbed, he went on to produce tracks for labels such as Pacha, Ministry Of Sound and One Love, while sharing honours on line-ups with the likes of Swedish House Mafia and Armin van Buuren, all of which is before anyone mentions 2014’s No.1 hit, ‘Freaks’, featuring the rapper Savage. Still, no point in looking back when the future is this bright.
What have been the new frontiers for you this year?
My first world tour including Tomorrowland, Creamfields and EDC Las Vegas.
Is electronic music taken seriously enough as an art form?
You only have to look at the charts to see that it’s taken seriously. Say what you will, but electronic music in whatever form it comes in is the dominating sound right now.
What’s the best new bit of DJ/production technology, and why?
Serum because you can create sounds that haven’t been heard before. Check out Quadrafuzz if you want to add some colour and flavour to sounds also.
If you had to switch your style to another genre, what would it be?
I’ve been switching genres since I left the jazz scene. Good music is good music and I’ll continue to play and write whatever’s inspiring me.
As a fan, what is the top price you would pay to see yourself DJ?
I think it all comes down to the experience. I would prefer to pay a premium price if the production value is there. If it’s just a club show, I don’t want my fans to pay an unreasonable amount for tickets but when you are playing for promoters that really care about the experience and invest in the production, it’s worth the extra coin.
What can be done to prevent drug-related deaths at dance music events?
I’m not educated enough on what is and isn’t being done to prevent this so it’s hard to comment, but as long as this is happening, we need to do more.
How can we increase diversity in dance music?
I’d like to see more trained musicians embrace electronic music. Early in my career, I was frowned upon by so many talented jazz and classical musicians that refused to break the mould. As Miles Davis says “If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change.”
WORDS: MARTIN GUTTRIDGE-HEWITT