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Tim Dillinger's Interview

Below is the interview I had with the very talented gospel/soul singer, performer Tim Dillinger. This page is best viewed using IE 5.5 and higher and to listen to the audio sample/s you will need a media player (preferably Windows Media or Real Player)

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Sir TY (US contributing reviewer of M2F mag)


Tim Dillinger's Interview

Tim 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 reading.

Sir TY: 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

Sir 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

Sir TY: How do your parents feel about your career choice, were they supportive of your decision or did they want you doing something else?
Tim: Um 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.

Sir 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?
Tim: They 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 him.

Sir 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.

Sir 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

: 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 everybody
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
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.

Sir TY: 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

Sir 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)

Sir 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 live.

Sir 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.
Sir TY: that would be great

Sir 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
Sir TY: Do you really?
Tim: Yes I do
Sir TY: Make sure you hold on to them , man you just never know
Tim: (Tim laughs)

Sir TY: You launched your own multimedia company Icon's Pen Media and started working with producer Dale Babb? How did you two cross paths?
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

Sir 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
Sir TY: 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

Sir 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 radio?
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 .
Sir TY: 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

Sir 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 called 'The 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.
Sir TY: Yeah...he's awesome he really is
Tim: Have you heard of him?
Sir TY: 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.
Sir TY: OK.

Sir 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
Sir TY: 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.

Sir 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.

Sir 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.

Sir TY: To date, what's been your biggest achievement and why?
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.

Sir TY: Who do you listen to when you're on your own time?
Tim: It kinda called musical schizophrenia, it's everything
Sir TY: Well who's in your CD player right now?
Tim: Teena 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
Sir TY: 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 it.

Sir 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 it's confirmed.

Sir 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.

Sir 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.

Sir TY: Do you have anything you'd like to say to your fans?
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.

Sir TY: One more question, where can the CD be brought?
: 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 cafedesoul@hotmail.com) 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 Dillinger's 'Promise to stay'





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