Singer/Songwriter Tim De Graaw picked up his first guitar at the age of eleven and started writing songs at a young age. In 2012 Tim recorded his debut EP ‘Danger to Myself’ in LA with producer Aron Friedman and songwriter Pam Sheyne (Christina Aguilera). In 2014 he had finished working on his second EP, ‘Laws of Gravity’, at Britannia Row Studio’s and Metropolis in London with the well- established ASCAP award winning producer and songwriter Don Mescal (Ronan Keating, Rascal Flatts). His new single ‘Violet Sky’ was released in January this year. Tim has performed his music live at venues ranging from The Royal Festival Hall, London, the Berklee Performance Centre, Boston, to the smallest bar scenes around LA, Nashville and London.
Recently Tim has been out in LA working as both a session musician and songwriter. He has written songs with producers and artist such as Sarah Walk, Charlie Puth, KAPTN, Rich Jacques (Right The Stars), Pete Nappi, and Sir Nolan (The Messengers, Nick Jonas). Tim has also written songs at the Mobli Beach House in Venice, LA, which have been placed on America’s, ABC TV show, Modern Family (Season 6, Episode 10).
Tim and his band, consisting of London based session musicians, Louise Bartle, Joe Hicks and Dave Payne, have been busy performing around the UK and are currently recording a new EP at Britannia Row Studio’s in London.
EP: What’s the Tim De Graaw story in a nutshell?
TDG: I was born in South Africa with a multi-lingual background in Dutch. As a family growing up we moved around a lot, so I’ve had the experience of learning about different cultures from a young age. I started to play the guitar at the age of 12 and learned it very quickly, always excited to play my next favorite song on the radio. My parents have never been musicians however they always listened to music especially the 80’s stuff. I started writing music at the end of high-school and started singing at the age of 17. At the end of school I was accepted to Berklee College Of Music in Boston, after college I moved to Los Angeles for a year where I produced songs and worked as a free-lance songwriter and session guitar player. I moved back home to London last year to continue working on my music and I am currently performing around the London circuit.
EP: You’ve performed all over the place with relative success, what brings you to London?
TDG: I moved to Boston in 2010 and studied there for 3 years. After I finished my studies in Music I travelled to LA and Nashville. I went out to LA with one suitcase and a guitar and started networking and booking my own shows wherever I could. I found a great hotspot with some producers in Venice Beach, where we managed to get music placed on a TV show called Modern Family. I am lucky to have had the American experience, it has definitely broadened my music vocabulary. I love the London music scene and have lots of friends here. I feel at ease being surrounded by such a supportive community. London has an exciting music scene, everyone is always helping each other get gigs, whereas in America I felt I was a small fish in a big pond, I guess we are all pretty small fish starting out, however the move back to London just felt right to me. I am now in my 20s, its that age gap where you’re still figuring it all out, and I definitely still am!
EP: Tell us something about your music – style, inspirations etc
TDG: I grew up listening to a huge mix and range of styles growing up from the The Beatles, Oasis, Lenny Kravitz and Bryan Adams, the list goes on. As a musician I have always been drawn to Blues and Country Music, there’s something spiritual that speaks to me within those styles. I am definitely influenced by lots of American music. I feel every artist/band branches into 10 more influences, I’ve always been curious to know who my idols listened to. My connection with the blues came from my first guitar teacher always had me on jam sessions and we would play the classics from Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn to Eric Clapton. I started to listen more to lyrics and song structure at a later age. I am hugely influenced by songwriters such as Ryan Adams, Jeff Buckley and John Mayer. I would have to say my music is a blend of blues and pop, recently I have been studying the lyrics of Neil Young and Bob Dylan, and am always discovering something new and exciting to stay inspired.
EP: What’s the songwriting process with you?
TDG: Some days the song washes up to shore, other days the song is drifting somewhere like an iceberg waiting to melt. The songs that are written in a moment with an honest heart are the ones I hold onto. I tend to only write when I have something to say otherwise I could spend months on one song and never get what I want because the song never had a message in the first place. I love co-writing my songs with other writers it always gives me a complete different perspective and takes me somewhere I haven’t been before. The inspiration/muse/excitement writes the song, If I’m writing to write it’s an uphill climb. There is a hidden craft, it’s like chipping away at the stone block the lyrics and melody have to fall in place and feel right.
EP: You’ve just got back from performing in The Netherlands. How did that come about? What’s a Dutch audience like compared to London or the US?
TDG: I really enjoyed playing in Amsterdam! I performed at a music venue called the Waterhole, it’s a small venue but the crowd was very supportive. I lived with a guitarist at music college in the US who now lives in Holland, I was interested in playing a couple shows out there, so he sent me some booking agents to contact. I went together with my percussionist, Louise Bartle. I had a great time in Holland and met some friends from the UK who came out to see me, whom I’d met at a gig in North London! It made me realize how small the world is. I am excited to head back to Amsterdam to perform more shows. It’s a very positive city and the audiences are always very warm and welcoming. It’s hard to compare cities and music in todays age, every place has it’s own authenticity however the world is so multi-cultural that it’s hard to put your finger on where people will enjoy your music. That is the reason I strive to write music thats can connect to a wide audience.
EP: What would you say to yourself when you were just starting out, knowing what you know now about the music industry? Would you do anything differently? And what advice would you give to anyone starting out in the music industry today?
TDG: Nothing is ever set in stone and the first opportunity is never the one you want. There is a huge misconception about the music business, the truth is that you have made things happen for yourself. My advice is to be surrounded by people who do the same. Music is all about the community, I have been lucky enough to travel to the States and the most important asset in my career are the connections I’ve made. I have friends who I stay connected with in Nashville, LA, and London. I am still starting out and am learning that patience is the key to creating great music. It’s hard work like any other business and it is important to challenge yourself and break the old habits. I was always very shy growing up, however doing music for a living has made me a more open and confident person. I’ve realized that you gotta chase it, you make you’re own luck in this business. I’ve also learned that you cannot be afraid to make mistakes. The key is to keep writing the bad songs until the good ones arrive at your doorstep, you gotta pay your due’s for sure!
EP: What’s the song that’s earworming with you right now?
TDG: I’m a huge fan of Ryan Adams and love the song ‘Feels Like Fire’ on his latest album. To me it captures that nostalgic feeling of lost love perfectly. his writing is very poetic, definitely warms the soul as much as the ears 😉 I guess I also have a personal connection with the song, so it speaks to me, I wouldn’t argue if someone dislikes the song at the end of the day it’s all perspective..
“Just so you know..
You will always be the hardest thing I will let go,
driving past the church and all the houses in a row
Feeling in my chest is fire” – Ryan Adams
EP: Where are you going to be in 5 years time?
TDG: Wherever life takes me really…I am aiming to perform on bigger stages, if not performing I’ll be writing songs in either London, LA, or Nashville. I am still unsigned so I have nothing tying me down as of yet.
EP: What’s one question you wish someone would ask you in an interview but nobody ever does?
TDG: ‘If you compared your music to visual art, what visual artists would you relate too’?
‘What’s you’re favourite Star Wars movie’ ?
Depending whether the interview went well and the interviewer was a girl it would have to be:
‘Whats your number’ ? lol