Dillinger is a talented singer/songwriter who's gospel inspirations
at an early age has led him to finding his benchmark in real soul music.
Now don't let the name fool you as this floridian born/Nashville native
is anything but gangster and wants the world to recognize it. With the
birth of his debut CD just now being wrapped for release on his own
label Icon Pens, I caught up with
Tim via phone today as he took an hour of his time from his hectic schedule
to answer some questions I had. He had a lot to say that makes for interesting
Tim, First of all, thanks for taking the time to do this interview
with me tonight. I appreciate it as do your fans.
Tim - Thank you so much
TY: Let me start off by asking 'was singing something
you wanted to do from an early age'?
Tim: Oh, absolutely. I started singing
when I was 2, my grandfather was a pastor and I sang in his church and
started listening to records as early as I can remember. I always wanted
to be an artist that was always my passion there was really no other
option I was either going to be a recording artist or a journalist and
those were the two things I wanted to do just eh I think the expression
would always appeal to me I started writing songs real young I think
probably 8 or 9 I started putting lyrics in my head and kinda come up
with my songs so yeah it's been a life long journey for me
TY: How do your parents
feel about your career choice, were they supportive of your decision
or did they want you doing something else?
you know they came from that generation of this isn't really a valid
form of employment, their thing was go to college, always have a back
up plan and um it just wasn't in the cards for me so they're supportive
of me now. My mother was a pianist she played the piano and my grandparents
they were the ones who always brought me the records I wanted so I think
for them so see now some fruit coming of it they are a little more receptive
'cos for a long time they were kinda skeptical you know can you really
make a go of it.
TY: You list in your bio that you are an avid reader
of literature, noting James Baldwin, Ntozake Shange and Richard Wright
as some of your favourite writers. Did their work influenced you to
becoming a songwriter?
did um as far as helping me I think kinda find my voice. The first songwriter
that I really studied is also a poet named Reba Rambo she's a Christian
artist and I always admired her writing and how she forms her lyrics
'cos they were songs they were also like poems then I read James Baldwin
his book 'Just above my Head' when I was very young and being a gospel
singer myself really kinda captured by the story because I saw so many
parallels from what I saw around me in the gospel music scene in his
book and I thought he just expressed it so beautifully and I always
felt when I read James they weren't just character I was reading about
TY: You've been put in the bracket of gospel/soul
singer, do you see yourself as that or are you one or the other?
Tim: I um.... yes. I kinda see myself
more as a soul singer only because I was a gospel singer for so long
that was my foundation but when I moved to Nashville in 2001 I really
had to make some solid decisions about industry-wise where did I wanna
go, what did I want to say through my music, who did I wanna reach and
I really saw a lot of limitations by pegging myself as a gospel artist
and it only allowed me to write from a certain stand point and to perform
songs from a certain stand point and really only to perform for a certain
audience and I really wanted to for my first record especially you know
that is always such a critical point it's like your beginning of a definition
and so I really wanted to say I wanna reach all people, I wanna sing
to all people I wanna write about as wide a range of things as I can
and really talk for this particular record it was really important to
me for what ever reason I can think it was what was in the stars for
what it was to make a really poetic record about love and it's many
forms: romantic love, spiritual love, friendship everything about love
from aeros to agothic.
TY: Being of ethnic origin, was gospel music always
in your household or did you have more contemporary pop music to listen
to growing up?
Tim: Well in the beginning stages
my grand parents listened to a lot of southern gospel music um I always
leaned more towards black music Andre Crouch, Aretha Franklin. Then
when I was 16, I moved in with my God Mother who is an African American
lady so that kinda then gospel almost completely took over my life everything
from Marvin Gaye to Donny Hathaway lot of the older singers like Bobby
Womack. I grew up with a real potpourri of music I learned a lot about
harmony from country music the greatest songwriters in the world are
folk songwriters, Bob Dylan I studied
his writing a lot I listened to Jimmy Hendricks,
eh Janis Joplin, Sarah
Vaughn, Duke Ellington...
Sir TY: so your influence musically was really widespread
Tim: Yeah, that was one of the key things about the producer
of the record Dale Babb he was so key 'cos he really helped me ring
it in and really determine the direction that was my center. He helped
me find a way to say I'm a lot of different things but this is my core
because when I listen to the record I hear little bits and pieces of
Sir TY: you both had an understanding about what you
wanted to create I mean there's not that many people out there that
you meet especially in the field (of producer) where they actually can
pinpoint exactly what they want out of you and you vice versa with them
and produce a finishing product -that's absolutely awesome
Tim: I really have to say about Dale that he is the opposite
of a lot of the producers from a standpoint of a lot of producers give
you tracks and you have to sit a morth into their sound Dale and I worked
over a span of a year on this record but the first 3 months was really
our developmental time where he had me come in with songs I had been
working on, sing them to him acappella and he would say to me what do
you hear and I would explain to him musically what I heard so we worked
like that we probably created maybe 5 or 6 tracks before we really got
a beginning definition of what this records was really gonna be I mean
the first couple of songs they're in the can they didn't make it to
the record but really a wide variety of sounds and Dale just kept helping
me to define what we wanted to do and what we wanted to say and it very
much my decision as it was his so that was what I really enjoyed about
working with him because he was not willing to let me just put out a
record I wasn't comfortable with so on that level he was a dream to
work with he co-wrote 8 of the 10 songs so it was a great collaboration.
You went on the road with the Grammy nominated gospel singer Beverly
Crawford when you were 18, how did that come about?
Tim: I was a huge Beverly fan Beverly
used to sing with Dr. Bobby Jones and that was how I first became aware
of her and I went to Kaindon, Nashville where I live now for one of
Bobby Jones's immense just to kind of watch and met Beverly and her
husband was kind of a instant friendship kind of thing Beverly always
jokes with me that I was her first 'white fan' and she didn't know I
could sing then and I brought them into Florida revival concert for
my church and I sang then and after that we hooked up and she had me
out to a lot of gigs with her I was kind of like a warm out for her
audiences and when you hear about the chiplin circuit it definitely
had it's moments
TY: Speaking of which what was it like performing
for the 1st time to a major audience - were you nervous?
Tim: Um....... Yes. I don't get
nervous so much anymore but at the time I really did and I think the
nerves are always about for me anyway more about the adrenaline it goes
into performing um 'cos you know I started singing in front of people
when I was like 2 so you kinda get amuned to what are people gonna think
you know are they gonna like me you kinda by the time I was like 8 or
9. I was kinda pass that but the first big crowd was probably l think
500 people and I just remember it being loads of fun I think it was
with Beverly and I just got up and Idid a hymn 'Caught His eyes On A
Sparrow' and you know in gospel you just have to go and get with it
Sir TY: Absolutely you have to put it out there and
if they accept it or not you know...
Tim: I think what I remember most
about that particular gig was this lady threw a pocketbook at me (we
both start laughing at that :)
Sir TY: That was first I'm sure (big laugh from Tim)
TY: On that note what did you learn from her about
performing live vs say to performing in a studio? Do you have a preference
to doing studio work or live work?
Tim: With Beverly I learned so much
about the difference between live and studio. Because Beverly reminds
of Patti Labelle in that way she's just a performer the studio doesn't
really work for her and I love the studio because I like the process
of creating I like going in and doing my background vocals, I like going
in and kinda playing with the songs but I also love getting up and interpreting
it live for me though it's like um recording the song is like a birthing
process, performing it is when you give it away and it's also 2 totally
different experiences I can't say I prefer one over the other performing
is always special because it could effect so many people and you get
to see it it's not like you....
Sir TY: It's rewarding
Tim: Yeah it's not like the record
where you get the emails, the phone calls performing you get to see
the tears in people's eyes, you get to see them smile, you get to see
them laugh and I love that I totally love that I love working with the
band I love working with singers there's a whole different synergy performing
TY: During your travels, you worked with other
artists such as Stellar Award winner Daryl Coley, Grammy nominated vocalist
Táta Vega and Grammy winner Reba Rambo, can you talk about what
it's like to work with such talented artists?
Tim: Tata out of everybody I probably
shouldn't say this was my favourite (Sir
TY: You might make some enemies there) no Tata is
a favourite from a stand point of she is so sweet and she's so much
fun but I learned so much from her. I learned about technique from her
I learned so much about studio singing from her songwriting a lot of
do's and don'ts I mean she was very hands on in that regards she was
almost mentorish in that regard because she was you know baby I've been
doing this for 25 years you know this is something to watch out for
um Tata helped me even with the falsetto that you hear in conversations
which she would kinda tweaked me on through the years, work on smoothing
this piece out keep doing this, keep doing that.
Sir TY: so she was definitely a mentor in some respect
Tim: Absolutely, Tata her Motown
work is just genius she's another singer I grew up on. Daryl is a singer
singer there's nobody like Darryl especially for male vocalist. Daryl
is kind of like the epiphany of most of us strive to do. He's also what
people don't know about Daryl he's also an arranger, a musician, songwriter,
actor, very down to earth another one who's very willing to just sit
and listen to music and share his opinions with. Reba, the writer of
all writers, not at all as well known as the others but a Grammy winner
just a brilliant brilliant writer I learned more from her in terms of
just observing an actual dialog of conversation her speaks for itself
so I have to get you some of her stuff.
that would be great
TY: You signed to an independent out of Dallas,
TX in 1997 then relocated to Nashville TN in 2001, can you share with
us what happened with the independent?
Tim: The combination of financial
problems and artistic differences and ultimately I just feel like the
record wasn't meant to come out in retrospect because it was not how
I was meant to be introduced and I didn't know that then I sat out for
3 years with contractual stuff behind that record but it was all worth
it because those 3 years for me was total intensified development. That
period I worked with Tata I really just sat out and that's when my writing
really came alive. The record is eh I still got the masters for it
Do you really?
Tim: Yes I do
Make sure you hold on to them , man you just never know
Tim: (Tim laughs)
TY: You launched your own multimedia company Icon's
Pen Media and started working with producer Dale Babb? How did you two
Tim: We were attending the same
church at the time and when I got there some people had heard me sing
and they said you really need to hook up with Dale and they've been
telling Dale you need to hook up with Tim and it's one of those things
that you almost avoided doing just because everybody said you needed
to do it and finally we sat down and I had talked with I had interviewed
2 other producers about doing this project and the chemistry just wasn't
right and Dale and I sat down and the first day we just knew that we
were meant to work together and that was January of last year and it's
been we've finished officially recording in December so we came 12 full
months and that's how we met
TY: The debut CD is called 'Suddenly'
but it was also called 'Love is on my
Mind', any reason for the title change?
Tim: Yeah I in fact at the last
minute changed it back to 'Love is on my Mind' much to the shagrin of
my business partner - stop changing the title. Sir
TY: You know that it's been notes out there as being called
'Suddenly' so everyone's kinda getting
used to the idea and looking forward to it...
Tim: Yeah, it's gonna be called
'Love is on my Mind' which I think
did Alan send you that track
Yes he did
Tim: OK. And so for me that track
kinda defines what the whole album is. We are going to be doing distribution
with Cafe De Soul and they've been really, really great to work with
and I've just been really surprised at the airplay and how it's picked
up, the reception we got from people it's been really overwhelming in
a good way. Initially I had never intended the track to hit radio so
early it was a blessing in disguise it came from Steve
G (Guarnori) from Soul24-7
TY: The debut single 'Promise
to Stay' debuted on Soul 24-7.com
in Oct of last year and is now getting the recognition it so richly
deserved, can you recall where you were when you first heard it on the
Tim: I was in the studio we were
working and I knew Steve's show was coming on and so we flipped on the
computer and it was so spooky to hear it hey, people always say that
when they hear their song on the radio it's such an overwhelming feeling
it was like multiplied for me because not only was it on the radio but
it was in a totally different country, totally different time it was
just so many component to it that it was amazing to me and Steve was
the first to play it so I'm very indebted to Soul24-7.com for that .
Well like I said it's a beautiful track and it's well worth the recognition
it's getting now.
Tim: Thank you very much
TY:You wrote and produce all the tracks on the
album. Were there any calibrations?
Tim: I do. There are 2 different
rappers both from Nashville the first one is Kyhil
and he's on company as well (Classic Cinema Entertainment) and Dale
brought him in on one of the... I call it the 'party records' and it's
Way You Love Me' and Kyhil came in and free styled his 8
bars and he's amazing to work with very intense performer he came and
did a show with me a few weeks ago and TY
is really gonna blow up his last CD came out I think a year ago and
he's working on the new one now and I'm gonna be on his CD.
Yeah...he's awesome he really is
Tim: Have you heard of him?
Ah if it's the same TY I'm thinking of did he have a track called 'Wait
a minute' last year?
Tim: I think so.
TY: As I mentioned earlier you're a singer and
songwriter - which (if any) do you prefer doing the best and why?
Tim: Oh, wow that's a hard one.
No. Songwriting is such a huge part of me as far as being an artist
myself I love love to sing I love to interpret other peoples songs I
wanted to put a cover song on this record so bad
Well everyone seems to be doing it so you know...
Tim: yeah I really wanted to do
a cover song and if I do so I'll do some cover songs but everytime we
tried to cut one we just kept feeling like this record really needed
to come from my prospective so if I had to choose see you're making
me choose I would say on one level I would prefer songwriting but also
singing is as equally important to me because they are both different
forms of expression.
TY: Do you have a favourite song on the CD?
Tim: Well it changes especially
since we've been mixing. I'd listen to one and I would think god, this
is my favourite but right now it's 'Til The
Six Is Nine' that's kinda my tribute to Teena Marie, Rick
James, Jimmy Hendricks I got the phrase from him and also Teena Marie
and Rick James used it a lot in their work because Teena Marie is also
one of my favourite writers. I I've Jimmy's work I love Rick's work
so I wanted to kinda pay tribute to them.
TY: Who would you like to collaborate or work with
(singer or producer) and why?
Tim: My ultimate dream at this point
is I would wanna collaborate with Teena Marie in some capacity she is
to me one of the most brilliant songwriter and I think very overlooked
as a songwriter everybody knows she can sing but I think her songwriting
is what really won me over into her fan base. I heard 'Tune in tomorrow'
from her 'Irons in the Fire' CD and it blew me away and so she's someone
I'd like to work with also Rose Gaines and I'd also like to work with
D'Angelo. I love hip hop I always wanted to make sure I had elements
of that in my music and when done correctly is a valid form of expression.
I love Floetry's work, D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, Mos Def they are true
poets to me but D'Angelo is my favourite artist from that genre because
he got such an amazing voice and a unique production sound so I would
like to work with him in a production stand point or vocal collaboration
but in some form I would like to work with him.
TY: To date, what's been your biggest achievement
Tim: Um - wow. I would have to say
my proudest achievement has been launching Icon Pens Media. Being a
business owner is something that was very important to me but also very
frightening to me the artist part of me really wanted to do the label
thing but the business part of me would not let me do it and so I chose
to do Icons Pen and just to see the network of people that come in to
work with me and support me and then not only that but the people we
have they just believe in the vision as well as my business partner
Brenda Porter who is very much my life coach in this whole process we're
going to be doing out a book on her next year she's going to be writing
a motivational kind of book and my producer Dale Babb is doing a solo
record next year as well so to be an involved in all these different
projects to me is my greatest accomplishment. To look at the art and
the product is what we'll be remembered for 'cos that's what impacts
people. My ultimate goal in Icon Pens is to do films. I want to produce
movies, I want to have a television network, I wanna own radio stations
that's where I wanna go with Icon Pens because to me the whole industry
right now is saturated and so boxed in at least in the States and I
know the UK and Europe has element s of that as well but it seems so
severe you know you hear the same 10 songs on the radio, television
is just so predictable I don't feel like thats what people necessary
want I feel like they take it because that's what they're given so I
wanna be able to create other formats some other options for people.
TY: Who do you listen to when you're on your own
Tim: It kinda called musical schizophrenia,
Well who's in your CD player right now?
Marie, Stevie Wonder
the box set, a guy here in Nashville named Michael
Bohannon his CD is just brilliant to me Marvin
Gaye's 'I Want You' deluxe
edition - Oh my god
Awesome - thats the only word to express that record.
Tim: That deluxe edition blew me
away I was such a huge fan of the original but the second disc was just
amazing to me. Reba Rambo's album
'Connections' and a really rare
one Vicki Sue Robinson she did a great record called 'Half
and Half' which as a great cut on it called 'The Freeway
Song' and Vicki just as a side bar is a real study in singing listening
to her records I learned so much about stacking harmonies and just hearing
different parts. Actually one of the things we're trying to do with
the next record is get a lot of the vintage players in that played on
some of those records it's going to be interesting 'cos I'm talking
with some people who was in Sylvester's band, I'm talking with some
people who used to be in Vicki Sue's band, the session players in New
York and so we're talking about really going for that vintage kind of
sound on the next record not to totally change direction but to exenterate
TY: Are you touring now and if so where?
Tim: We've been doing select dates
here in Nashville, but we're in rehearsal to begin going out to promote
the album full force. We're working out some dates in Atlanta and negotiating
for some in San Francisco and Toronto. Our real focus right now is the
European market, so we're getting ready for some dates in the UK in
what looks like May. We also have some television appearances here in
the States lining up...Everything will be listed on the website once
TY: For those you have inspirations of becoming
a performer, what advice can you share with them
Tim: First of all, I would encourage
anyone with aspirations to believe in themselves...It sounds really
trite, but it really is the key to accomplishing much. Once you are
self-assured, no one can deter you from what your calling is...know
why you're doing this...Secondly, study the industry...study the careers
of the greats...Read as much as you can to keep your mind open to concepts
and ideas...You can never learn too much. Listen to as many artists
as you can...keep reaching to find inspiration in the most unlikely
places...because you never know where you'll find it...Lastly, work
with integrity. Not only is it good for the soul, but a good reputation
is what establishes a career of longevity.
TY: Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
Tim: Recording...continuing to advance
as an artist with an expanding audience...Also, would like to be writing
and producing other artists...and hope to be working on that first film
project by then...at least in the developmental stages of it.
TY: Do you have anything you'd like to say to your
Tim: Thank you for feeling the music
and for responding to it...It means to much to receive the emails and
correspondence from people who relate to and are moved by the music.
TY: One more question, where can the CD
Tim: The CD can be purchased in retail outlets in the UK
and European markets via Cafe de Soul Records (Retail stores can email
Nigel Bird at firstname.lastname@example.org)
or it can be purchased at www.timdillinger.com)
Tim, thanks again for
your time, continued success in your career and here's hoping the CD
blows up big time - All the best
Listen to Tim
Dillinger's latest hit 'Love
is on my mind'
Listen to Tim