DJ and producer Timothy Clerkin – aka Heretic, one half of London techno/house/disco duo Eskimo Twins – releases his single Pollux, with mixes from Andrew Weatherall and Sean Johnston, on July 6. Here he chats to The London Word about John Cleese, creativity, house prices and his love of all things east.
‘I’m at home in my pokey, but more than agreeable, little flat in London Fields having spent the day obsessing over synthesisers, decibels and attempting to finish off some remixes. With varying levels of success.
I could very happily not leave east London for weeks on end, everything I need is here. It’s got mega clubs and music, glorious parks, food, art, my friends and my cobbler. There’s always something interesting going on around here. My road can be infuriatingly busy and loud sometimes, but the irritation soon subsides when I remember I can roll out of bed and be having a coffee in the sun, sat in a park, within a matter of minutes. I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else in the world right now.
I always feel a certain sense of euphoria taxying back from playing or partying in south London and crossing the Thames early in the morning. Tower Bridge and the rest of ‘the sights’ lit up always look amazing; it’s definitely quite romantic. If only I wasn’t always on my own, battered.
My perfect London day out would involve just doing a couple of manageable activities so I don’t end up too knackered. It’d probably start with a Bloody Mary in The Dove pub with my friends, a nice big breakfast, followed by lazy cycle along the canal, take in an exhibition, maybe a museum or two or whatever interesting culture happens to be on in and around town that day. Then some pre-dinner cocktails and finish up in good restaurant – of which there are so many I’m not going to begin to decide where – again, with my friends. I’m a man of simple pleasures.
What makes London unique is the sheer amount of incredibly diverse music scenes it plays host to. There are not many cities in the world in which you can go and see a world class metal band, some techno, house, drum ‘n’ bass, afrobeat, indie, acoustic, electronica every night. We are quite spoilt.
Winter in London is pretty Dickensian, which is evocative of my childhood – because I read a lot of him, I wasn’t in a workhouse. But if I had to pick a favourite season then it’d be summer. I’m a pasty, Irish skinned sun dodger so don’t get me wrong, it’s not the sunning opportunities. Just more the eternal optimism that a bit of warm weather brings; there’s a certain vibrancy about people. Being able to go out and listen to music in the open air all night without worrying about getting wet or frozen is a freedom that only comes along for a few months per year so I try and make the most of it.
I feel most creative at home really. Because I feel ‘at home’, if I’m there it generally means I have some free time and I have everything I need immediately at hand to inspire and to make music.
Mr Erol Alkan posted a really good video of John Cleese giving a post-dinner speech on creativity. Since watching it I think I’ve found it easier to be creative when I’ve not necessarily been in the mood to be so. Cleese suggests the main ingredients you need to be creative are space and time, confidence and humour. The two mindsets we as humans use daily are the open and closed. In the open mode we can be creative and, in the closed, are more adept at producing what we have imagined we can create. Both are indispensible to the creative process and flipping back from one to the other is essential.
Right now, this moment, I’m probably most excited about the giant waterslide at Kings Cross. I am a child, yes.
Winston Churchill was a pretty tough act to follow, but as Prime Minister of post-war Britain, Clement Attlee and his labour government set up the NHS and the welfare state. Access to these are two of the very best things about being born in Britain and I remain utterly disgusted at the Tories incomprehensible war against both vital institutions. Attlee is perhaps one of the least well-known Prime Minister’s of the twentieth century and he should be celebrated more, in my humble opinion.
Hackney Marshes and the River Lea I think are London’s best kept secret – a great place to pretend you’re no longer in London; both absolutely beautiful.
I think Londoners maybe have a reputation for being… not rude, but perhaps a little insular. In my experience everyone is bloody lovely though. I guess where I live is pretty densely populated with people like me; funnily dressed creative types on bicycles. But I feel very at home and it’s always nice to come back to Hackney after a weekend away DJ’ing and have a walk down to Broadway Market, invariably bumping into at least one person I know, wave to my barber through the window and grab some post-party food. It has a real community feel for me.
I love this city to death, but at this rate I’m never going to be able to buy a house here – unless by some inexplicable miracle badly produced acid house suddenly goes mainstream.
When producing, if you write something you think is awesome, there will almost certainly be someone out there who will share your opinion, no matter how odd it is. It’s tough to find your own voice when you’re just starting out, in fact imitating others is the best way of learning at the start, but making music purely for yourself is the best way to go.
Relaxing isn’t something I do very well. If I’ve got any down time I’d rather be doing something productive. But on special occasions, like a family visit or similar, Victoria Park is always good. It’s moments from my house so very little effort. The pavilion does great food and drinks, you can go boating and it’s nice to just wander over the road and get away from the hustle and bustle.
Christopher Hitchens is certainly the writer that’s had the biggest effect on me. Apart from all his polemics on various figures and injustices, it was his comments on religion that started my love affair with his work. The concepts behind my Heretic project are all anti-theistic in nature, though apart from the name most of the references are probably quite oblique!
Go to Corsica Studios for a night out. It’s my favourite place to play or to go and watch a DJ in London. It’s the perfect size, the perfect amount of filthy and they have the best line-ups.
I have a Heretic single on Nein coming out in October, a few tracks coming out on two of my favourite labels, Tusk Wax & Porn Wax, and also a collaboration project I’ve been working on with my good friends Buran on Beachcoma. Then I have a track on the excellent Rock to the Beats Records in September.
Happiness is… the time and freedom to make and play music and not be too stressed by the whole process, with a good group of friends. Most of which is within touching distance at the moment, so I’m pretty content right now.’
He also features on the Nein Oh Nein compilation out now, and joins Tronik Youth + Jonah Considine on the Nein Oh Nein DJ tour, which stops at Shapes in London on July 4.