Tim Andresen (Culture Box, What Happens) Interview
Tim Andresen and I have known each other (in a music sense) for a long time. He’s one of those guys that gets shit done, grafts hard, is a proper professional and a straight talker, he’s even written for the site on how to organise club nights. He’s achieved success as a producer, label owner, Dj and his long running residency at Culture Box in Copenhagen - there’s not much this guy hasn’t done!
Thanks for taking time out to chat Tim, you’ve been doing this for what seems a long time (1986?), what got you into it - what’s the back story?
I bought my first vinyl when I was 12 and started collecting records from the age of 13 which was also when I began to DJ. The musical interest has always been there and from early childhood I was the one distributing cassette tapes to our group of friends.
How did it begin?
I started mixing on my friend’s gear back in 1986 but shortly after invested in my own 1210s that I still owe to this day. The first years I played a mix of all sorts music at a youth club in the suburbs of Copenhagen and did private parties and school parties. The first real club gig came when I was 15. Age limit in that place was 18 but I kept my age a secret (or perhaps they didn’t care). During those years I also grew an interest for hiphop and that took my focus while I also saw house music exploding and that also grabbed my attention.
Greatest influences? DJ’s, people, labels…?
It’s something that’s always changing as time goes by. There’s no doubt in my mind that the people that inspire me most right now are the two girls I work closely with at Culture Box. They challenge me and inspire me in regards to how I think and how I work on a daily basis. It’s quite special. More historically, back in the 80s I looked up to the radio host Kim Schumacher who had shows on Danish National Radio P3. He speed-talked and hyped the music while playing records I'd never heard before. I was blown away by the technical skills of the turntablists in the late 80s and got inspired by Derrick May and how he did things in the 90s. Same goes for James Zabiela when I saw him live the first time in 2004. Few DJs have this approach to DJing these days but Roger Sanchez really created a party with his 4-decks show last time I saw him perform. I generally admire people that have huge success and still keep the feet on the ground. My good friend Nick Warren is a great example of just that and he’s still an inspiration. Some of the best DJ sets I have enjoyed lately were by Hernan Cattaneo and Guy J and their track lists are always spot on. I aim to surround myself with people and artists that inspire me and influence me with a positive spirit.
Favourite place to DJ?
As much as I love dark and intimate underground clubs, I also love open air parties during summer in special locations. However, It’s always about the crowd and the vibe we create.
How did you get involved with Culture Box initially?
It all started back in 2005 with the owners asking me and my friend Rune (now better known as Kölsch) to play open to close sets once a month. They turned out as huge crowd successes and I’ve been resident there ever since.
What’s it like being a resident there these days compared to at the beginning?
These days things are handled professionally. The crowd has also changed dramatically over the years and so has the position and image of Culture Box. It’s much more an international vibe now where as it was a local thing back in 2005.
You organise the events there now right?
I do yes. Together with the rest of the team.
What’s the biggest challenge to running the club nights?
It’s a never ending process. There is no breaks. Mentally it’s sometimes a challenge to keep up with the tempo so it’s a true pleasure to work with a team that takes pressure of my shoulders when needed.
What’s the typical crowd like at Culture Box?
It’s an international crowd and a mix of many nationalities and cultures all uniting to dance and enjoying music and a night out. Lots of friendships are built between locals and foreigners. It’s a beautiful thing. A culture as they say.
What’s you’re least favourite task in running the nights?
The work pressure and never having a whole day off. A fair few agents and DJs pushing me for bookings all the time and that can sometimes be stressful.
What’s been the highlights for you at Culture Box in your time there?
From a business view, it’s most certainly the fact that every stone has been turned since I got in and it’s now an organisation with a healthy economy. It’s also great that we’ve established Culture Box Unboxed to help young people in growing their careers and it being an umbrella from where we can share knowledge to the next generation of artists. Musically, it’s been wicked to see A-list artists like Amelie Lens, Sasha, Digweed, Fatboy Slim and many others agreeing to play at our humble surroundings at Culture Box because they believe in me and what I do.
You’ve been all over the world DJ’ing in over 40 countries. Where’s been the best night you’ve Dj’d?
It would be impossible to pick just one since every night is kind of special in it’s own way. You meet new friends. You create something unique every night that quite often stays a memory for a long time. But being invited to play at mythic places I dreamt of when I was younger, like the old terrace at Space Ibiza, Fabric London, Turnmills, Ministry Of Sound etc. have all been special and rewarding for me. I also remember a Halloween night with 4000 dressed up clubkids going mental in a carpark in Almaty. I even had the bodyguard of Kazakhstan’s president to look after me during my visit. Let’s just put it this way, visiting the toilet with that guy looking after me wasn’t easy. The most memorable night I ever had in Denmark was a gig I had with Mark Knight at. the legendary Vega in 2005. All records were broken. Mark was interviewed by Pete Tong in the Essential Selection on BBC Radio 1 and rated it the best Friday night on the planet. In recent years we’ve done some major street parties in Copenhagen during Distortion Festival and that’s been truly special too.
What’s your usual preparation for a set? Picks tracks, sleep, meal and a drink?
For domestic gigs it’s mostly picking tracks, training or running, dinner and drink. For international gigs it’s flying, picking tracks, dinner and drink.
Top tip/s for up and coming DJ’s?
Show your dedication and act professionally. Make contacts with the people of the music industry. Support the clubs, the promoters and the scene you want to be part of and bring lots of friends when you get booked. Make music and arrange your own nights to stand out. Don't forget to be polite and never be too pushy.
Which DJ’s do you love to hear play?
Someone who knows what they do and love what they do. I very much look forward to playing with La Fleur again soon as she played one of the best sets I've heard in a while when we played together last time. I’m also looking forward to playing with Guy Mantzur for What Happens 13th Birthday on 18th April. He’s quality and I loved him when I heard him in Barcelona last summer.
Any up and coming DJ’s you’ve seen and think we should check out?
The new Danish Angebot crew have created a stunning atmosphere playing their slow melodic sounds the last two times I’ve heard them play.
Best piece of advice anyone has given you on the journey so far?
"Always follow your heart". And so I do.
All time favourite track to play in a set?
Pete Heller’s Big Love still puts smiles on everyone’s faces.
Aside from your DJ career you also produce - do you think that influences your DJ sets or style?
Not really. It’s two very different things although they do go hand-in-hand. Whenever I have done something new, I do of course test it out to see the crowd reaction and to get an idea of whether anything needs to be changed or edited. Having knowledge of production is helpfull and makes me understand and analyse music better but it’s not like you’re automatically a good DJ if you’re a producer and vice versa.
You also run/own/co-own a couple of labels?
I do indeed. I established my own What Happens label back in 2006 and had the first release out in early 2007. Since then it’s been a platform building and helping to shape the careers of many young artists including Denis Horvat, Sous Sol, Frink, Evren Ulusoy, James Dutton, Dilby the list goes on. In 2015 I joined Scott Harrington as partner on the UK-based Savoir Faire Musique and we continue to run that label together.
What’s your average week like balancing all these different things?
I use to say that music is a lifestyle for me which is probably the right word to use. There are many tasks and things to look after but as long as my love for the music remains, I don’t really see it as work but more like pleasure. It’s also about the people you are surrounded with. If you have someone you can trust around you, it makes life easier and the many things are easier to balance.
Do you dedicate a lot of time to social media, or do you put your time into other things to promote what you’re doing?
These days it’s mostly socials. I also take time out to do interviews like this one and help wherever I can. I believe in a good and positive way to promote things and I put pride into staying out of short cuts to success. I like things to build organically.
What’s on the cards for the next while - gigs to watch out for?
This week I’m playing in Sweden and next week I’m home at Culture Box again to play with Sam Paganini. The coming months look exciting and I’m sharing stages with people like Roger Sanchez, DJ Koze, Guy Mantzur, Teenage Mutants, La Fleur and many more which challenges me musically and keeps me on my toes.