from THE VOICE
Interviewer – Julie Ink-Slinger
Tim Conlon is a full-time musician living on the Northern Beaches of Sydney and can be seen gigging across live music venues and pubs around Sydney. A great sportsman, Tim had to make the very hard decision to choose rugby or music as his career. He went on The Voice to prove that choosing music over sports was the right decision to make. Musically, Tim gets his sway from musicians such as John Mayer, Jeff Buckley, Ed Sheeran, Gavin Degraw and Chris Martin. Amnplify’s Julie Ink-Slinger caught up with Tim recently to find out what is going on for him at the moment.
J: Tim, you’ve always loved music, learning to play the guitar at age 12. There are those who need lessons to learn to play their instruments, but then there are musicians like Paul McCartney and Elton John, who were self-taught. Did you need guitar lessons or did you teach yourself how to play?
T: I think a combination, when I was quite young I needed lessons, but it stuck with me as I got older. But it’s like pulling teeth, but you have to be okay with not being an extremely talented guitarist, but the more practice you put in, like anything in life, the it kind of clicked and the better I became.
J: Were you also just 12 years of age when you realised you could sing or had you always known you could hold a tune?
T: As a young kid, I didn’t sing along with cds or songs on the radio, but I always loved music. It wasn’t my focus at a young age, I was always sporty, but as I got older, maybe 14 or15 years old I started singing more and realised I loved it. It was a passion, but I worked hard at it and got better.
J: During this period, who were some of your musical influences and did you learn to play the guitar and sing along with their songs?
T: Yeah, people often hear me talk about John Mayer, he is cool to me, and even though he didn’t have one of the biggest voices, he has a cool kind of vibe, I also love voices like Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble. As a teenager, I had a good mate who loved Farnham, but I responded to voices that were more like Buble which has been a big influence on my vocal style.
J: Did you sing in the shower and around the house and did your family ever say, “Tim, shut up!!”
T: Yeah, my sisters in particular would tell me to be quiet, but they have always supported my passion for music.
J: Along with fellow musician Mitchell Thompson, you won the vocal Eisteddfod towards the end of high school. What songs did you perform and were you confident that you would do well?
T: That was a school eisteddfod, I can’t remember what we sang to be honest, but it was another experience that helped develop my musical abilities.
J: At age 16 you joined the band “It Is Her”. You played at weddings and various Sydney venues and in 2012 you toured interstate. Was the set-list made up of covers or had you started writing and performing original material during this period in your development as a musician?
T: Yep, joining the band was a great stepping stone in my musical development. With It Is Her, we sang the band’s original songs, but we played some pub gigs where we played covers for the most part, and as the years went on, we started writing more and more and became more confident song writers. You can play covers your whole life if that’s what you want to do, but performing original material was the path I wanted to take. I see music and writing songs as an art form and I love singer/song writers. To have people connect to your songs is an exciting and rewarding experience. When people relate to your music it’ a buzz, I have to admit.
J: In 2013, you started to play more solo gigs in Sydney and you also performed backing vocals for Jimmy Barnes and Jess Mauboy at the 2013 Carols in the Domain. Earlier this year you were the Top Tenth finalist on Team Delta on The Voice. It’s evident you possess a strong work ethic and take advantage of any performance opportunities that come your way. How do you remain so committed to developing your career as a working musician?
T: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think hard work pays off, I truly believe that. The friends I’ve grown up with are also hard workers and you find a positive direction to head the more energy you put in to whatever it is that you’re doing. I surround myself with people who inspire me to grow, as a singer/song writer and as a person.
J: Speaking of The Voice, can you share your experience of what it was like being on the show, what you learned, what was challenging, and what was enjoyable?
T: It was a great experience. You’re surrounded by amazing artists and coaches and it’s such a good ride, the people around you continue to support you and your growth as an artist, it’s one of the best things I have done, as a musician.
J: Can I ask, you have to learn a song a week. Do you all learn the lyrics or is there some kind of monitor that has the lyrics on it?
T: No, we learn the lyrics. Like actors who have to learn their lines. You never under rehearse on The Voice. The producers and the coaches ensure we are fully prepared to perform each week. They never want you to fail, they always want your performance to be great, every time you sing.
J: Also, I am really curious about something: I’ve watched The Voice in Australia and the US several times and even though it’s a singing competition, the contestants always seem to get on well and support each other. I promise I’m not a gossip monger, but I still need to ask, is there some degree of competitiveness between the contestants that you all manage to keep under wraps or do you all simply get on well because you’re all in the same boat?
T: I think, if you get to the finals stage, there has been so much talent that has come through, you feel so grateful to be in that position, that you respect and support each other. I guess there is some degree of competitiveness, but not to the stage where we stop treating each other well. We’re all in the same boat, you know what I mean? So we know how each of us feels and we, like I said, respect and support each other. And it’s a great platform to get your music known and it’s great exposure too. But after it’s done, it’s up to the artists to continue the momentum and keep chipping away at your career progression. And Delta was a great support and mentor, she’s so talented as a singer/song writer, her help was huge.
J: Later this year you will release your self-titled EP which will include your singles, “Temporary Love”, “Drunk” and “Home”. The songs have a warm, country feel, and there is a tenderness to your vocals that is immensely appealing. Will the rest of the tracks on the EP possess that same sensitivity and country kind of vibe?
T: Yes, I’ve released the three songs you listed and there’s another song “This Time” that I’ll be releasing in October that is similar, and then another track that is a little different in its feel and sound.
J: When creating new songs, what comes first for you, the lyrics or the music? And also, do you tend to create an album of songs with a similar vibe or do you write material for an album with songs that are somewhat dissimilar, in terms of genre?
T: That’s a great question. I think it can be both. There are artists who create material for albums with similar sounding tones and feel and there are albums created with distinctly different songs, from one track to the next.
J: Can you help me understand how song writers created new music? Do lyric ideas come first and then the melody or the melody first, followed by the lyrics?
T: I think it’s different for most people, in terms of a song, it’s usually a melody that comes into my head, a sound, but when I’m thinking of song ideas, it’s not like I sit down and decide to write a song. Something might happen, like I might hear a saying or some idea that inspires me to write a story around the idea. Something might happen in my life or I might have a feeling or emotion about something and you know you want to write a song about that experience. It’s like Temporary Love, a temporary experience happened that made me write the song. And the more you write, the better you get and you chuck the rubbish ones. My sisters keep me honest.
J: Last question Tim, given how busy your music career is keeping you, have you finally retired your rugby jersey?
T: I have. I enjoyed it growing up, playing union and league, but music is my focus now.
J: Well I predict your career is on an upward trajectory and it will continue as long as you remain committed to it. I really wish you every success from here on in Tim, and if you need any more promotional assistance, I would love to help you with that.
T: Well, I’m releasing my next single in October, so maybe we could arrange another interview.
J: Absolutely, just chat to Karen about it and let her know I’m happy to interview you again. Thanks for the chat Tim, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you.
T: Thank you, I’ve enjoyed it too.
J: Bye Tim!
T: See ya Julie!