BRINGING THE BEATS BACK: MEET OUR CLOSING NIGHT DJ, Tim Helmy

Tim Helmy has been a Coffs local since his high school years – and has been drumming and DJing for almost as long. He’s also one very busy man, gigging up and down the coast, where he has built a strong following over the years. Closer to home you can catch him at The Pacific Hotel and The Shores Tavern in Yamba, the Bellingen Brewery and at the Hoey Moey.

This week, on the Closing Night of SWIFF, we’ll have Tim all to ourselves at the afterparty at the SWIFF Light Box quarry site where he’ll be bringing the beats till late. Here’s Tim on how it all began for him…

“At the beginning of my high school years I immediately fell in love with drumming, which began my rhythm addiction. Playing drums felt natural and over the following years I found hand percussion to be my thing. Although I couldn’t afford any equipment, I’d hang with drumming friends and hire gear when possible, this continued when starting the DJ phase of this rhythm addiction.

“I took to DJing quite easily because of the drumming background and scratching became my new thing, starting about 12 years ago. I was taught the old-school way, using vinyl records, which we would spend all our money on collecting and carrying around to gigs. Since then new technology has enabled us to play digital music files via turntables and a laptop which makes things a lot easier. Although the majority of DJs now use digital controllers and CDJs, I much prefer turntables because of the feel when it comes to scratching.

“The scratching got me into the hip-hop world. Some of my highlights include a couple of Australian tours with Illy and Beats Working, supporting big names including Cypress Hill & Public Enemy.

“Although I find that I can’t play what I really want on the East Coast because the market typically won’t receive it well, my style of choice would have to be black music, predominately with a soulful sound that you typically feel in your chest and gut. Genres include soul, reggae, funk, hip-hop, blues, rock, Latino and jazz.

“I really enjoy the challenge of mixing music that has a human element to it – rhythms that aren’t perfectly timed on a computer like most dance (robot!) music. I’m not a fan of that doof doof doof sound. It’s repetitive and gets old fast. Because of my drumming history, I’m drawn to the organic, human quality of the sound of drums, which is very hard to mix for most DJs.

“DJing involves constant digging for new music. It’s our job to introduce great artists and producers to our crowds and I’ve found that the best websites to find these are Bandcamp and Mixcloud. They’re kind of like Instagram for artists and DJs around the world, where you can follow your favourites and their favourites, and establish your personal style. I recommend checking them out.”

Tim will be playing at SWIFF Pop-Up bar at South Coffs Island the quarry from 9pm till late

Check out Tim’s latest mix here, a special blend of vintage reggae and roots to suit the sunshine.