Tim Chadwick knows there’s a certain pressure that comes with finding your feet, both as a singer-songwriter and as a twenty-something year-old. Throw a global pandemic into the mix for good measure and that’s when life really gets messy.
“What can we talk about- the world burning?” he jokes. Staying in contact with people during these gig-less times ain’t easy. He has spent the last nine months in his room. It’s this very room that features as a backdrop for our Zoom call on a Friday.
It’s not just any Friday, as Tim points out, it’s Friday the Thirteenth. It’s bittersweet and one hell of an anniversary; his headline show in Whelan’s was set to take place on the previous Friday the Thirteenth, all the way back in March.
If I Gotta Run
“It was my biggest show, downstairs in Whelan’s, sold out and it was cancelled the day before. I was heartbroken but in my head I was like ‘Pfft, in a month it’ll happen again’.” Needless to say, it has yet to happen.
He takes it in his stride, counting his blessings that he lives at home in his native Dublin, but still acknowledges how tough the year has been.
“I think being at home, especially being a musician or an artist, when your industry is gone it’s very evident. It’s evident to everybody – family, friends.” he says, adding “You can really see the effects of what the pandemic has done to the music industry.”
“The world relies on music so much, and the arts. People are always there constantly churning out content, putting albums together. It’s a very weird lifestyle. We don’t go to work Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, and then it just became this whole thing that the world was like ‘Oh you should make the most of it, write a book or write an album.’”
Life came to a standstill. Lucky, but all the while overwhelmed, Chadwick struggled at the beginning. He normally writes about the world when he’s living it, but now he was just living day to day, at best.
“I wasn’t living my own life. I think the world for a while was just living by the news, and when the news is just cases and death and scary stuff, I felt zero need to write about it. It’s not my story – The world is in pain.”
His last body of work feels like a world away. Released back in 2017, ‘Early Days’ was a folk EP with a “smidge” of pop elements. “I only had a guitar and a piano at home, I didn’t have any midi controllers or access to synths and stuff, so it literally sounds like what I had.”
Between then and now, Chadwick has grown as an artist, through meeting new people and exploring different sounds, this has enabled him to emulate his influences, citing artists like MUNA, Hayley Williams, HAIM and Maggie Rogers. “I used to think it was so out of my grasp. The more I learned about it, the more I dove into it.”
Until June he didn’t really do anything creative with music, but after restrictions were lifted in June, he reunited with friend and nearby neighbour Seán Behan and they made five songs together over a month and many coffees.
“Every artist says this, but they are my five favourite things I’ve done so far.”
Only Me and If I Gotta Run were released in September and October, respectively, but 2021 will see all five songs released under the upcoming EP ‘Timothy’. It is a culmination of nine months of self-reflection. “I write a lot more like how I talk now, it’s a lot more conversational… because I’ve just been talking to myself, a lot of the words I’ve said to myself in the mirror have made it into this EP.”
"Theres a difference between being alone and being lonely - that's something I had to wrap my head around."
‘Timothy’ is “the labour of not feeling productive”, and Chadwick swears an EP during the pandemic was never the goal. “I didn’t really strive to have a body of work, and I didn’t wanna be one of those people who was like ‘I’m gonna make something this year!” because I was the exact same person being like “Shut up!”. So I was very contradictory of myself, but these things came out. I’d also gone through a breakup the year before and I hadn’t written about it,” he explains, “I hadn’t written anything and then it came like a wave.
“The way that I process songs and my own thoughts – it’s never straight away … It could be half a year later, my mind catches up and now I know what to say.”
“Theres a difference between being alone and being lonely, -that’s something I had to wrap my head around.” On Only Me, Chadwick finds the words to deal with the emotional fallout of a four-year/first relationship. “I came out of that and I definitely didn’t know who I was. ‘Oh yeah here I am, completely on my own.’
“Knowing you did something for the better, but still feel lonely. I thought I did it to feel better, but I kinda feel like shit. Doing it for the right reasons, and it’s for yourself – you can live with that. That’s the lesson I’m learning.
“People go through it. At the end of the day there’s always gonna be someone who’s broken up with someone and someone who’s been broken up with. I don’t think anyone gets off easy because either you can play the victim card or the culprit card – there’s guilt and sadness on both sides.
“You have to sit with yourself, and that in itself is kind of ugly but also really beautiful.”
In a year doused with doubt and despair, he has managed to pen a relatable body of work. “I’m not gonna be there like ‘ooh party at the club’, people would be like ‘he definitely wasn’t there!’”, he laughs. “It’s kind of ordinary life. There I am, in my 20’s still living at home with Mam and Dad, bit sad sometimes, eating my breakfast in my bed- just songs about that.”
Looking forward, Chadwick wants to get more involved in songwriting for other people: “I get off scot-free cause someone else is singing my sad songs,” he explains. “Sometimes when I’ve finished a gig and it’s gone really well. It’s just like ‘Pfft I’ve just vomited my life to 300-400 people who know my name but they don’t really know me and I don’t really know them. And I’ve been screaming at them about my highs and lows.’ So it’s a weird experience but I think getting into rooms and being able to do that with groups of people and strangers is something that appeals to me.”
All of Chadwick’s artwork over the last 2 years has been shot with Zyanya Lorenzo, and ‘Timothy’ is no different. “All the colours are quite earthy and browns and stuff, and that’s what I could see, cause I felt like I was grounding myself by writing it. It was very cathartic. It’s just so personal, there’s no bells and whistles to it. It’s just me in my kitchen.
“It came out exactly how I wanted it, very natural tones and the reason why I shaved my head was because that was the haircut I had when I was 11 years old as Timothy, so all very pure.
“A lot of the images, when we were taking them, I was dancing around my kitchen. A lot of them are blurry and unclear, it summed up perfectly how I was feeling. I felt a bit blurry, and I felt a bit unclear of myself. I felt I was moving on to the next chapter, that’s what I wanted the artwork to reflect. I just wanted to get that out. Z was phenomenal at getting that across.”
"It’s kind of ordinary life. There I am, in my 20’s still living at home with Mam and Dad, bit sad sometimes, eating my breakfast in my bed- just songs about that."
Speaking about the EP title, “Somewhere around the age of 20, 21, it went Timothy, Timmy, Tim. I found myself being like ‘Oh, that’s an adult name.’ Tim is such an adult name, and it’s my artist name, I’m just not an adult. A lot of the songs are based around conversations I’m having with myself, looking at myself in a different way, learning to love myself and also knowing that I’m not inherently flawed.
“My Mam and my Dad call me Timothy, and it’s a throwback to those years where I was blissfully happy, you know?”, he recalls, “I was childhood happy … I still have a great life, don’t get me wrong, but there was no questions I asked myself when I was that age. Life was just life. You got on with it, you went to school, did your thing, you didn’t ask any of the big life questions.
“As I got older, and as I became Tim – my name shortened, life became a lot more serious.
“I think I stopped talking to myself. I saw myself in a different light, I saw myself how I wanted others to see me, I started caring about how I look, and basing my value of myself on my looks. All that messy social media stuff and general life stuff got to me.
“I’ve had to sit on my own for nine months so I had these conversations with myself, being like ‘No, you have to be comfortable on your own, you have to figure out how you’re going to love yourself.’ Timothy came into my head.
“When the world called me Timothy, that was such a happy, carefree time, and it felt so foundational, that I wanted to call the EP that… It seems like a reconnection, like I’m talking to my younger self again. Life just gets messy, and I wanted to go back to when it wasn’t.”