Tim Deluxe makes ‘Radicle’ move to get healthy

by Mike Sunda

Special To The Japan Times

We’ve all been there before. Sometimes it’s a New Year’s resolution, sometimes it’s the realization that you’re out of breath just running up the stairs to catch your last train — but at one point or another, we’ve all decided to try and get in shape.

For London-based DJ and producer Tim Deluxe (real name: Tim Liken), however, the decision to take up running arguably altered the entire trajectory of his music career.

“It was when I went to Australia and fell asleep behind the decks,” Liken says with a laugh, recalling the reason behind his initial decision to start running. “My luggage hadn’t arrived, so I met up with Dave (Taylor, a.k.a. Switch) and we sat down in this lovely marina harbor bar, knocking back the pints and catching up. He played first — luckily, for him! — but I had the last set. I was really knackered, drunk, and thought, ‘I’m going to play the longest record I have — which was 10 or 11 minutes long — I can mix it in, get eight minutes rest and then I’ll get back up and bring in the next track.’ And then I just f-cking passed out! The music stopped and I got shipped back to the hotel. That was the catalyst!”

But Liken’s epiphany didn’t end there. Not only is he as serious as ever about his running, having just completed the Tokyo Marathon for the second time, with a very respectable time of 3:07:10, but his music has also seen a dramatic stylistic change as a result.

“As soon as I got back from that tour, I thought, ‘This has got to stop, I need a break from this lifestyle.’ And that was it. In some ways it restored my creativity because I had all this free time. I started taking piano lessons and studying jazz and blues theory, and in terms of being a musician, it was almost like starting again.”

Liken’s new album, “The Radicle,” combines that newfound skill set with the club-oriented sensibilities he has demonstrated throughout his career, which has spanned U.K. garage, commercial pop and, now, jazzy house. Unusually for an “electronic” release, it’s also chock-full of live instrumentation, with guest spots by British jazz venue Ronnie Scott’s regulars such as guitarist Jim Mullen and trumpeter Jay Phelps.

“I was still training for the marathon while I was making the album, so I would go to the studio then just switch off, go and train, and come back with fresh ears,” Liken says. “It was about maintaining perspective, because you’ll be sitting there and working on a track, and your focus point is zoomed in 200 times on just one individual part. But then I could zoom out, step away, go training and when I came back I could hear it differently — I could see the fuller picture — so it was a really good process.”

“The Radicle” is in stores now. For more information, visit www.beatink.com/Labels/Beat-Records/Tim-Deluxe/BRC-407/.