Sub-Cult drove down to Bandung during the weekend to have an exclusive chat with the man behind Beats in Space, Tim Sweeney. We arrived at Maja House around 4pm and Tim was doing sound check before tonight’s Highland Frequency event. He was kind enough to let us snap pictures of him while he got ready, and after everything’s settled, we finally sat down at a quieter spot at the Stevie 6’s balcony for that well-anticipated interview.
How did Beats in Space start? What was the story behind that – the beginning?
It started when I started school at New York University. I’d played on a couple radio shows when I was in high school, so I was really into radio, and then once I got into NYU I wanted to start my own show and I just contacted the radio station. I’d also been DJ-ing in high school already so I knew how to DJ. So I just started doing this DJ mix show, asking artist to come play and just started build from there. Once I got one artist, I could get other artist to come.
Once I started working for DFA I got a lot of exclusive things from them which helped raise the profile of the radio show. So yeah, it’s building up from there.
How many titles has BIS Records released so far?
We’re now on the 10th release. So 1 album and the other 9 releases are all 12”. The one album is for Secret Circuit.
What kind of DJs do you usually invite to play on your radio show?
It depends, sometimes I have club DJs, sometimes I have really weird left-field DJs. The radio show could be anything. One week it’s disco and another week it could be techno. For me that’s what keeps it interesting. This is the fourteenth year that I’ve been doing it so I need to keep it fun for me. And the way to not be bored is to have different kinds of DJs coming in to play.
How did people respond when you started releasing vinyl in today’s digital era?
People love it! I think a lot of listeners to the radio show still respect vinyl and a lot of them are DJs themselves. A big part of the radio show is going out and trying to find older music that no one knows about and that’s about finding vinyl. So there are a lot of record diggers listening to the radio show. Vinyl, they respect that, you know?
For me it’s really important to finally make these records. Next week is the 700th radio show, I’ve had so many radio shows that are all these digital mp3s on the radio, but nothing that people can hold on to. Finally with making a 12” it’s making a product that people can buy and actually own something instead of just a digital file.
So you still make the time to hunt for vinyl nowadays?
Yeah, yeah, every week I go record shopping. For sure, yeah. There’s actually this one store that I go to all the time called A1 Records. It’s my favorite store. I go there every Tuesday before the radio show. Basically my whole record shelving at home is just of records filled from A1.
Who introduced you to music and what’s the first music that you listen to?
For DJing it was my older brother who kind of introduced me to electronic music and got me into that world. The early stuff that I was listening to was early Warp Records. Things like Aphex Twins. Before electronic music I was listening to a lot of jazz when I was really young, 9 or 10 years old, because I was doing jazz piano for a long time.
Who’s the biggest influence for your music?
I think it would be Tim Goldsworthy and James Murphy from DFA. They’re a big influence on me. Working for them and learning from them. I worked for this other guy, Steinski, before I worked for DFA and he’s kind of an older New York Hip Hop guy and I learned a lot from him as well. Just all three of them together I think was what really taught me about music and DJ-ing and the whole culture of things.
The DFA Holiday Mix 2005 is one of the most memorable CD mix that we’ve ever heard, what’s the story behind that compilation?
I think at that point DFA just wanted to do a little mix CD that wasn’t expensive, came out for the holiday season and was a compilation of recent stuff from DFA. That was actually Tim Goldsworthy and I who did the mix. We did it together and, um, we tried to find some fun things from the DFA label and just do a mix. Take stuff from DFA and make something cool *laughs*
Name one or two producers or young DJs that caught your attention at the moment?
Well, there’s one guy named Matt Karmil, he’s an English guy living in Germany. I heard this remix he did for Popnoname from Kompakt Records and it was amazing. I got in touch with him and asked him about more music. He sent me a bunch of stuff and we’re actually going to do a 12” for Beats In Space Records. I’ve been playing it out every time I play and his record makes people go crazy. So I’ve been super happy with him.
Also from the Beats In Space label is Crystal, who was the 10th release from the label. It’s the latest release. He’s a young guy from Japan. I’ve been watching him for a long time. He’s put out stuff on Crue-L Records in Japan. I’ve been loving all his music and I got in touch with him to do something for Beats In Space. He did this awesome 12” that I’m loving right now, and that was the last release.
So those two guys, they’re Beat In Space people and I’m excited about them, that’s why they’re on the label.
Other than music, have you ever been involved in other audio production like movie scoring or video games scoring?
Yeah, I did video game scoring for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I did the soundtrack for them. Right out of college I started working for Rockstar Games, this video game company where I worked as the Soundtrack Supervisor. So I put together a bunch of video games soundtracks for them. I haven’t done any movie soundtracks but it’s always been an interest of mine. But the video games stuff I did.
That’s like every guy’s dream; video games and DJ-ing right out of high school and college
I was lucky. I was lucky. *laughs*
What are the 5 tunes that you’ve been listening to religiously lately?
Soft Rocks – Tourkalina
Museum Of Love – Monotronic
Baris K – 200
Axel Boman – Hello
Secret Circuit – Higher Heights (Hidden Fees Remix)
Interview by Vita Aviandhono
Photos by Arifadel Nurez