Tim Helmy is a man of many talents, sharing his time between making music, imagery and delicious cuisine. Focus caught up with him, to find out more about his creative inspiration.
Can you tell us about your connection to the Coffs Coast?
Coffs is my hometown, really. Moving here with the family for my high school years, a lot of my core connections, lifestyle, beliefs etc. were all formed here, so it’s quite an important part of me, I guess.
How did you find your way to this part of the world?
Mum and Dad moved us five kids here for our development from Temora, NSW, a small country town near Wagga Wagga, where we had “Helmy’s Country Barn” – a kind of all-in-one shop selling everything a supermarket, take-away shop and video game parlour would. Us kids would stand on milk crates and operate cash registers, selling cigarettes and deep frying chips between playing video games, pinball machines and feeding the jukebox ha ha … ahhh, the memories!
What is it that you do?
Primarily I caravan the coast DJing, between Port Macquarie, NSW up to the Sunshine Coast, QLD at regular venues along the way.
Secondly, I’ve started my journey into photography, which is quite exciting.
I also have “Tum Tum’s”, which is an open food bar for private events, although I don’t see that going anywhere as my chefing years are over! Sorry, not sorry!
You spend a fair bit of time behind the decks working as a DJ; what do you love about it?
The DJing came from a percussion background, as I was a drummer in high school. I can’t sing, play guitar or anything melodic at all, but rhythm is something that comes quite easy to me. Mum said that I could tap along to a song before walking or talking, so I feel I’m just blessed enough to have something like that in my life. DJing is the ability to match rhythms … Be it scratching or mixing; it’s rhythm related, so I got quite good at it quite quickly.
How would you describe your style and the music that you play?
In a word, I would describe it as “soul” music, quite frankly. There’s a certain heartfelt, soulful groove that happens within the first 30 seconds of hearing any track and the greats before us have set it up for others to follow, so everything I play has that feeling; whether the writer is black or white, young or old, male or female is not important – just that feeling that the legends brought to us.
I feel a strong connection with the sounds of Stevie, Bob, Chuck, James, Nina, Marvin, Otis etc., you get the picture, and with the plethora of music available these days, it’s that heartfelt sound that I’m searching for. Hip hop, Funk, Reggae, Blues, Rock etc. No soul? Not interested! So much has come from them, and I honour that sound and stick to that soulful sound and steer well clear of the “doof doof” sh#* getting around by most DJs these days. It’s repetitive, computer made, robot sounding garbage; in my opinion, it’s music for the head, not heart.
Where is your favourite place to play?
Rumpus Room, West End (Brisbane) QLD is my favourite, because of the people there. I find city people are more interested in hearing something new that they like or a classic that most people don’t even know is a classic; where coastal people generally like what they know, being triple j music or anything from Video Hits in the last 20 years. Not everyone mind you, but an overall generalisation, really. So playing a bunch of new finds and those underground game-changing tracks goes down really well at Rumpus, where those same tracks aren’t appreciated as much in the coastal towns.
What type of events do you play at?
Mainly I have my venues up and down the coast, but here and there I have private events etc. I’m looking into incorporating live percussion into my sets, so I’ll hit the festival rounds when that’s ready to go too.
Is this a full-time gig, or do you have a day job?
This is my main income now, yeah … I was a chef for about 15 years before DJing, and boy am I glad that’s over!
You are also currently studying photography; where are you doing that?
Online with OnlineCameraEd.com
What inspired you to learn more about the art?
While caravanning up and down the coast, I would love spending two or three days between weekends in the silent bush (on my own) somewhere new, where I could get some perspective and learn more about myself and just be in nature. I would find myself in beautiful surroundings using my phone to snap up pics for memories. I got quite good at it, but was limited to what the phone’s capability was. (Have you ever tried to take a picture of the moon with your phone? Ha ha!) So I purchased a second hand DSLR and needed to learn about how to use it, and now I’m hooked.
Is photography something that you would like to make a career out of?
I don’t think that’s something to set as a goal. I believe that money comes from what you put into it. For example, I never thought of making money or a career from DJing. I just loved it so much, as it was my “thing”, my “medicine”, and got good real quick because of that love. If I had set the goal of getting paid to DJ, then I wouldn’t be here now. I’d be playing crap music to unappreciative ears; I’d be hating it but getting paid, like chefing.
Who are some of the photographers that you admire?
I’m way too fresh to have one yet ha ha.
Do you have a favourite genre of photography?
I haven’t even gotten my own style developed yet, but I do love street photography. It’s kind of ballsy taking pics of strangers and quite hard to get an image that is felt by the viewer, so I like the challenge of it.
If you could travel to any time and place in the world, where and when would it be?
I would love to have been around at the time of Atlantis 13,000 years ago. I would love to learn how their civilisation fell. As my understanding goes, they reached a much higher level of technology than we have today but “internal technology”, if you will. I’m a huge fan of using intuition to make decisions, and Atlantis was the last time on the planet that we did to a much higher level than what we use today. I’m interested in how the civilisation fell while using such a powerful medium. We today make our decisions from our mind, which is designed to separate us and filter out what it doesn’t understand, but intuition is different; it includes and is connected to the unseen “whole”. Maybe it’s my Egyptian blood, but it’s quite fascinating to me.
Best advice anyone has offered to you?
On a South Park episode some years back, “The future is now” was written on a building in the background of a scene, which I really resonated with. I read that as “what I do now creates my future”. Whenever I’m thinking of the future, it’s usually a fear. An attempt to control something that might happen to somehow enlarge the false sense of self that the ego is. It’s quite an absurd way to live like we do in this way, but each time I catch myself doing it, I quickly put my attention into my chest and listen to what my heart says, not my forever chattering, insecure, fearful mind … Too deep?
What are your plans for the future?
Ha ha … None.
Where can people find out more about you and what you do?
I have a website (www.timhelmy.com) that pretty much shows what I’m up to, but if anyone Googles “Tim Helmy” they’ll find me … I’m the only one in the world!