By Adrienne Yeung
I know you’ve heard/seen Dj Co-op around town sometime, somewhere – perhaps DJing at Grippin’ Grain, or as half of the Co-op/Hunnicut duo. But less ubiquitous is the name of the man behind the turntable. Meet Tim Hoover and his most recent project, which is a huge departure from hip-hop beats you might hear him spinning on any other night. He’s created 60 minutes of richly layered instrumental music, stirring together lost-and-found samples with his own compositions. The day after his album listening party at the Planetarium, we got away from the heat and the traffic at Bar Italia to talk about recording under his own name this time to produce this totally different sounding album, More Napkins.
Stylus: You said the “real” title of the album at the show last night. What’s that?
Tim Hoover: It’s I Should Have Grabbed More Napkins. It’s just a thing that I’ve been saying for years. It should be on my tombstone. But it seemed a bit clunky for a full album title. I love napkins, but I never have enough of them!
[Stylus hands Tim a napkin. Tim says thanks.]
Stylus: What went through your head when you created the songs?
TH: I suppose for the most part it was built around the samples that I took. I’d take a little snippet of a song that I wanted to sample, and then build music of my own on top of it, inspired by the sample, and which would go along with that sample.
Stylus: So all in all, how much of this is actually your own music that you’ve composed and played yourself?
TH: Probably around 90 per cent.
Stylus: What exactly were you doing on your laptop at the Planetarium show?
TH: Well, I played the music as I composed it, except at certain parts I took pieces out of the recording and played those parts live. I was playing the section with the guitar, and then the keyboard, and the violin. Really, I composed the album almost by trial and error: like, “These notes sound good, now I’m gonna record on top of them.” I made it and then went, “Oh, crap, now I’ve gotta perform this.” I think in a perfect world I would have made the music and then got a whole bunch of really talented musicians to just play it with me. Maybe someday!
Stylus: I was listening to some of your Yahoo Serious (an earlier venture under the Co-op title) music from 2007, and I noticed how even that is distinctly hip-hop and funky, whereas under Tim Hoover, your sound is entirely different – down-tempo, almost classical. For how long have you been thinking of making something like More Napkins?
TH: It’s almost like a logical progression, the Yahoo Serious, and after it, the Ayo Technology. On Yahoo Serious I was taking the songs, looping them up, and then adding acapellas, so it wasn’t straight DJing – there was more of a production element. And then on this one I just took it one step farther in that there were songs, but just little parts of songs and then I built music around them. Obviously it’s a huge departure from funky, rappy things to times signatures and violins. And that’s why I released it under the name Tim Hoover and not DJ Co-op, because if you went to see DJ Co-op at the Pyramid… or if you listened to this and went to see DJ Co-Op at a party, you’d think, “What?! This is nothing like that!”
Stylus: But why did you decide to record this under Tim Hoover as opposed to another pseudonym?
TH: I always have trouble explaining why I chose DJ Co-op. [Tim now explains, but that’s probably already in another interview somewhere.] So if I had to make up another name, I would have to explain that… This is music that I’m really happy with. It’s not like trying to market myself as a DJ or anything with this. This is just my music. This is what I want to put out – so why not just put it out under my own name?
Stylus: What was the thinking behind the decision to make each track so long, at about 12 minutes each?
TH: The album is designed to be listened to in one go. I almost wanted to make it just one long 60 minute track on your iPod, but that’s kind of annoying for people because you have to either listen to it all the way through, or skip. So I picked natural breaking points. I thought that was a good compromise between one gigantic long track and a bunch of short tracks. Because it doesn’t really make sense for me to cut it up any smaller.
Stylus: In pretty much every piece of info I’ve seen about More Napkins on the Internet, there’s a reference to this being a “headphone album.” What does that mean to you, and do you agree?
TH: I pulled that term out while writing out the release details for the album. To me it just means an album where if you were just hanging out at a party and it was playing through some MacBook speakers, you wouldn’t really get the full appreciation of what’s going on with it. Or at a loud bar. It’s the sort of album that I think is best appreciated on a pair of headphones.
Stylus: What do you like about cassette versus other formats?
TH: Aesthetically, I love the fact that it’s on cassette. I know it’s not that practical, but it’s so goddamn cool that I couldn’t resist – the fact that I grew up listening to all these tapes and now I’ve got a tape of my own music!