Artist To Artist: Tim Sweeney & Man Power


We have no doubt you’ll all be familiar with Tim Sweeney, the voice behind the veritable institution that is “Beats In Space”, his radio show which recently celebrated 15 years on the airwaves with both a global tour and a critically acclaimed compilation release . Man Power is an artist who we’ve also been supporting for some time, and who has, in the last 18 months since we hosted his first ever podcast, performed a slew of international DJ gigs, as well as having released music on labels like Hivern, Correspondant and Eskimo. The pair of them are due to play together when Tim Sweeney returns to the UK on February the 6th to play at Tourist, the Newcastle based party which seems to be flying the flag for leftfield house, disco and techno bookings in the Northeast, having played host to artists including Todd Terje (Live), Barnt, Trus’Me, Daniel Avery, Jeremy Underground and John Talabot (a notable eminence grise in the following interview).

We thought it may be fun (and save us some time) if we got them to interview each other, which they’ve done, in a conversation which takes in variously: Fox Farming,  high school DJ competitions and the nature of being a teenage hippy;

Man Power: Ok Tim, I guess I’ll lead off. Er… What did you want to be when you grew up?

Tim Sweeney: Some in my family would say I haven't grown up yet! But that's another story. 

When I was 9 I wanted to be an astronaut. When I was 11 I wanted to be a jazz musician. When I was 13 I wanted to be a professional basketball player. When i was 15 I wanted to be a DJ.

Somehow I got stuck on that one.

Can I throw that question back at you? What did you want to be when you grew up?

MP: Weirdly, I can remember when I was about 6 I said at school I wanted to be a farmer… but I wanted to keep foxes, which kind of shows a lack of pre teen agricultural knowledge I guess. In my teens I wanted to be either an artist, an actor, or a singer, but I didn't really commit to getting particularly good at any of them. I guess I just wanted to be well known and recognisable without having to expend  much effort, which is kind of ironic considering the amount of effort I now put in to just hiding my identity.

TS: A fox farmer?? You know that idea wouldn't even come to any american kids head. We'd all think of growing corn. That's all there is in america: corn. Anyway, fox farming sounds so British! Get those foxes ready for the hunt!

Also, regarding your identity: How much effort are you really putting into hiding your identity? I mean, you don't wear a mask or robot helmet when you DJ, do you? Have you thought about sending out people other than you to do DJ sets from your USB sticks? That would be a way to make sure no one knows who you really are. You also came on my radio show and used your real voice. What were you thinking there?

Next time you come on the show, I think you should have someone else speaking for you. Actually, you probably shouldn't be doing this interview either, to be honest. I'd say you're in line for pulling a Talabot. Our mutual friend, John Talabot, tried to stay anonymous for a while. He made a good effort. But in the end, he gave up and there’s pictures of his cute little Spanish face everywhere. Considering your teen history of wanting to be well known and recognizable, don't you think it's just a matter of time before you're Talabotizied?

Hahahaha. Uri / Talabot is better looking than me, so he had more incentive to drop the curtain.

Also Tim, I'd suggest that after the last time I met you in Berlin you possibly know more of my secrets than most folk! Please note I did say secrets though! I guess the real incentive of hiding who I am now is the fact that for a short while it became a bit of a "thing" for people to guess. That was never the intention, but after people have said I'm Mayer, Talabot, Trevor Jackson, Weatherall and all of the other flattering and inaccurate guesses, I now lie awake at night in fear of the moment when it finally comes out and they all just go "who?" and stop listening out of rampant disappointment.

I tried wearing a scarf over my face for an early gig, but a friend in the crowd called me a "dick", so I took it off before my first track had even finished. I have my own radio show coming out later in the year too, which (assuming anyone tunes in) will also give everyone the opportunity to hear my rather distinct accent on a regular basis, so I guess it is just a matter of time. Hopefully I'll be at a stage where the music is more important than an accidental gimmick though.

Taking a cue from what you just told me, where did you start your DJing? Were you one of those kids who played the school disco's? Was it even cool to be a DJ where you went to School? Where I'm from, if you showed any kind of musical or artistic leanings you were basically branded with the catch all title of "Hippy"

I went to a pretty hippy school, so I wasn't getting beat up for being a DJ. I remember taking my turntables to some cafe in downtown Baltimore and DJing there once a month or so. That was probably one of my first gigs. I did a DJ competition when I was 16 down in Washington, DC at this club called Buzz. I made a dublate especially for it with some song I made. Unfortunately, like most of my life, I lost.

Man Power, I wanted to ask some more about you. Get to the real heart of who you are now that we know you're lackadaisical about hiding your identity. Which, I have to be honest, is good to know because trying to interview someone who can't say anything about themselves can get boring pretty quickly. My advice for that: if you don't want to say, just make something up. Look at Aphex Twin! He loves giving answers that you never know if they're true or not just to get people talking. It's great.

So, let's just get this over with. Real name? Age? Hometown? Name of your high school? Mother's maiden name? Name of your favorite pet?

On the subject of DJ Competitions, I only ever did one and was way past when I was too established in my home town (in my real name) to legitimately compete. For the final I actually found myself playing in front of a poster advertising me playing at a different club in town, which was a bit suspect to say the least. The worst part is that I only came 3rd in the end.

… and in answer to your questions (and bearing in mind your advice):

My real name is Tim Sweeney. I'm 45 years old. My hometown is Shermer,  Illinois. I went to De Grassi Junior High. My Mothers maiden name is Yeltsin, and my favourite pet is called Zoltan.

Man Power, I can't believe you just wrote John Talabot's real first name! What the fuck?! Talaboting means you can show your face in pictures, but people still think you're a John. Also, in my PR advice to you, I forgot to mention that your lies should be half-truth's.

Right on that fine line between real and questionable. That story about your friend calling you a "dick"? Everyone knows that's true.

Also, the plug for your new radio show? I liked that move. It was smooth how you just slipped that in there! It left people wondering: "where can we find Man Power's new radio show?" Can you let us know what station? What day? What time?

OK, you may not be doing :Talaboting”, but you’ve caught me crowbarring a plug in for a radio show, so surely that must need to be referred to as “Sweeenying”, non?

And since you’ve said that everyone will be wondering, I now feel obliged to say that the show will be on monthly from February on the new radio station KMAH, which is starting in Leeds, UK, very soon.

By the way, I’m totally intrigued now. What was the song you made? Were you in a band, or are we talking some electronic stuff? What kind of music were you making, and how come we don't hear anything like that anymore, especially given you Jazzy childhood leanings?

Man Power, there is stuff by me out there, people just don't know it's really me! I don't Talabot like you guys.

Ha. We’ve already established, I’ve made a move in to Sweeneying now anyway.

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