Timi Temple: Up close and personal

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Timi Temple: Up close and personal

timi temple
Words from Timi Temple

A personal account of a journey through making music, featuring studio tips, a gear rundown, and more!

I’m Timi Temple – a Sydney-born Artist & MD who absolutely loves the guitar and loves the colour blue! I started playing music at the tender age of four, learning violin and piano (thx mum & dad) – all it took was one gig/performance and I was hooked and knew music, (and the limelight haha) was for me forever.

I’ve been writing original music since my high school garage band days and have had my fair share of original projects since then, however, I’ve found my final form and have been releasing music as Timi Temple since 2017!

Read up on all the latest interviews here.

My current sound is a mish-mash of indie rock/pop and singer-songwriter and I generally perform on guitar and violin. I’m currently in a really exciting explorative phase where I’m trying to incorporate the ol’ fiddle into this indie rock sphere, but I’ve been running it through a whole bunch of guitar FX to mask its folky timbre. It’s been a blast to show friends and have them ask me: “What the hell is making that sound??”

In terms of my influences, I listen to a bunch of new music and have fallen in love with so many artists listing them all would take forever, so instead I’ll name a couple I’ve seen live recently because seeing a band in person always does so much more for me than listening on my headphones! I saw Dayglow play recently and he’s phenomenally fun and did such a sick job of recreating his sound live, and seeing Holly Humberstone play solo surrounded by instruments was super intimate and both simultaneously broke & made my heart. Honourable mentions go to Pang by Caroline Polachek, that’s always on repeat, and Diorama by Silverchair that I’ll always carry in my back pocket.

As a session guitarist & MD, I’m lucky enough to work with a ridiculously large pool of artists personally, and naturally some of their individual special sauce rubs off on me as inspiration for my own music. I’m currently on tour in the US with Cosmo’s Midnight and sitting in on their sessions has given me new ideas for production and subtle sonic layers! I’ll be joining Grent Perez soon for his UK/EU/US/CAN tour and he’s a young master lyricist, so I’m certain we’ll brainstorm some cool ideas together.

When I’m at home, I’ve got a nice little bedroom studio I work out of with all my favourite guitars, synths, and mics at hand. But this past six months I’ve been on tour and I’m either going super ad hoc with just a MacBook Pro, UAD twin, and some headphones, or hiring a studio in whatever town to get some final vocal takes down. 

Gear wise I’m usually running a UAD Apollo 8p (I’m such a mega fan of their plugins and the onboard DSP is always saving my lappy), and to record I’ve got a collection of RØDE mics, using primarily the Classic II and NT5, and a Sennheiser MD441 that I got mainly for looks but have also fallen in love with haha. 

I’ve got a growing collection of guitars in my studio, and I make sure they’re all getting played so every couple of weeks I’ll swap the rotation on the guitar rack (guitars in cases don’t get played).

I’m in love with anything “lawsuit era” from Ibanez so I’ve got copies of Rickenbackers, 335s, SGs, and LPs from this pocket of time in the ‘70s. But for single coil guitars I’m blessed to have a matching Tele and Strat set that were custom made for me by a friend almost 10 years ago (sadly they’re no longer making guitars). 

As for synths, I love anything Korg and have the MS-20, monologue and minilogue, and I’ve got a Juno 106 and Yamaha DX7 that sometimes see a bit of action.  

Probably the most special thing about my setup is that the collection is big. This is because I’m a hoarder and can never part ways with an instrument or piece of gear. I’ve sold a guitar once in my life and have never quite recovered from the heartbreak and thus have vowed to never sell again haha. 

I feel like I don’t buy anything new until I’ve absolutely learnt the inside and outs of what I’ve already got, so the new gear tends to have a big influence on my songs of that time because I’m always trying to incorporate it into every track. This may also be a way of justifying the purchase to myself haha.

Not all of it is top-end either, when I was just getting into guitar, my aunty bought me this little battery-operated “pig-nose” guitar amplifier to practise in my room with and I love using it for that ‘radio EQ’d’ sound instead of just recording a big amp and cutting the lows and highs in post! 

There are dream pieces of gear though and at the top of my list is an Ampex ATR-102 (with a tape machine mechanic permanently on hand to fix it haha) Why? Everything sounds better through tape in my opinion. 

In terms of DAWs, I absolutely love Ableton Live 11 and have been using Ableton since version 8. I know it like the back of my hand and I think that with anyone’s preference for a DAW, it all comes down to how fast and productive you are within it. Specifically because most of the shows I do have playback implementations, so using Ableton to write and perform with is the most harmonious experience. 

I record guitar into Ableton in pretty much every way you can imagine! I’ve mic’d up my amps – an ‘80s Roland Bolt 60 paired with MD441 and SM57 as my current go to – I’m often using a Helix when I can’t record loudly, and when I’m on the road and don’t have access to either of my creature comforts, a DI straight into a Apollo twin with the Fender Amp plugin does just fine. Actually, I’ve even recorded an acoustic guitar with my iPhone mic and just dropped it in and the recording made the final cut haha. 

Creative processing usually happens on guitar pedals, and within the box I do mainly compression and EQ to tame it all back and make it fit the mix. 

As for preferences in my guitars, I’ve got a pickup maker in Sydney called ‘Sliders’ and I love them so much for all single coil pickups (they’re in all my Teles and Strats) but for my humbucker guitars I mainly stick with the original ‘70s & ‘80s pups. I really love the flying fingers pups in my ‘70s Japanese Ibanez’s.

As for tonewoods, I mainly use rosewood fretboards and have a combo of swamp ash and alder-bodied guitars that are all strung up with Elixir 10-46s (I’m a sucker for leaving strings on too long).

For monitoring, I’ve got a pair of Adam AX7s that I use when I’m writing and jamming out new ideas but my room isn’t really treated properly so when it comes to the mixing stage of my music I tend to rely on my beyerdynamic 990s to hear everything properly. I kind of believe that once you learn the sound of a set of cans you can mix on almost any pair, so my best advice is to buy any studio set and just listen to as much music through them as possible so your ears can get accustomed to what ‘finished’ songs should sound like and aim for that.

At the front end, I’m a Universal Audio guy through and through and love their emulations of the Neve 1073 which is my go-to preamp for pretty much anything mic’d. I’ve mucked around with their SSL channel strip but found I prefer putting it on the group buss inside Ableton to glue things together. 

The length of my sessions always depends on the inspiration or flow state of the day, if I’m really loving an idea or song, I’ve been known to pull all day and all nighters to keep chasing that feeling, often cancelling other plans that I might have for the day in favour of it. On the contrary, I don’t really like forcing an idea so if I’m not feeling it I usually set it down to come back and look at it another time.

As for starting sessions, I just wake up and sit in my studio each morning and play songs or jam until something inspirational hits (or doesn’t), sometimes just hitting record before you even know what you’re doing can produce some stunning ideas. 

I’m the worst at knowing when a song is finished because I just love to tinker and tinker. I think when other people I show can’t tell the difference between version 10 and version 20 of the song, it’s probably time to say it’s done haha.

Soothe 2 probably gets the most use in an average mixing session, it is a godsend for getting rid of harsh frequency buildups, it’s on most of my groups and busses.

And because I like to produce into my master chain, I’ve almost always got the ATR102 running with a Fairchild 670 Comp and Brainworx bx_digital v3 for metering and stereo width finessing. 

1176 and LA2A on almost anything mic’d are my go-to compressors – I like to tame my recordings because I usually play (and sing) dynamically .

Soundtoys EchoBoy gets rinsed for my delays if I’m running in the box, but often I like to send things through my Strymon TimeLine pedal so I can get my hands on and turn knobs while being creative.

My go-to reverb is the EMT 140 plate from UAD or the Ocean Ways Studio plugin for making things sound more ‘roomy’.

EQ Eight stock inside Ableton is an EQ I can’t live without and it’s literally the first thing on all my tracks! I’ve used fancier EQ’s from FabFilter and others but always find my hand searching for the old faithful EQ Eight.

I was asked once: If you could only use one type of effect for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? This is probably the hardest question I’ve been asked musically haha, I’m going to have to go with reverb because things just sound so stark without it and you can kinda cheat the other effects with fun recording techniques or manipulation.

For live translation, I think having a solid knowledge of the sonic characteristics of every instrument through mixing has improved my live sound and I’m always consciously making sure instruments aren’t stepping on the frequency toes of each other, mainly, getting the guitars and synths out of the way of the vocals and making sure the kick and bass are working nicely together. 

From a musical standpoint, this year will wrap up as one of the busiest years touring I’ve ever had. I think in total I’ll have been on tour for nine months of the year – and trying to write a collection of songs (and album maybe?) has been equal parts fun and tricky – but I’m looking forward to having a break from touring early next year to tie the bow on these songs and have a heavy release schedule next year!

My final advice? Don’t stop the fun. Ever. I think we all got into making and playing music because we found it fun and I never want anyone to lose that. 

timi temple

Head to Timi Temple’s website for more, follow him on Instagram here, or check him out on Spotify.