Originally born on the other side of the Atlantic, American DJ, producer, and mastering engineer Tim Xavier has called Berlin home for more than a decade now.
His original productions and remixes have come via some of techno’s best record labels, including Ellen Allien’s BPitch and Slam’s Soma Records, alongside outings for LTD400 and OFF Recordings.
The most recent project to emerge from his studio in the German capital is his 14-track ‘Positive Conundrum’ LP, which not only marks a major milestone in his professional career, but holds meaning in his personal life too.
The album arrives this week on B.Riley’s CMND CTRL, a label where Tim has released a number of times already, including his 2021 collaboration with the label boss himself.
Hi Tim, how are things going for you in Berlin right now?
Pretty damn well, I can’t complain. On a daily basis I get to spend time in a beautiful studio mastering and cutting music to master lacquer disc. It’s a hustle, but I love it. Additionally my work environment has transformed immensely as my business partner and I recently built Northward acoustic rooms. The new acoustic rooms are a dream to work in. Otherwise it’s grey, it’s cold, we deal with it!
You’re preparing for the release of your new ‘Positive Conundrum’ LP this week, what can people expect to hear on the album?
The album has such a massive variety in production. I’ve been told it’s a compilation of “artful floor burners”. The promo feedback was overwhelmingly positive and reaffirming. I’ll take it! The original body of music was actually around 23 tracks in total, produced over a span of around 1 year. I eventually had to whittle it down to 14 tracks.
It comes on Florida-based label CMND CTRL, how did you come to sign the record with those guys?
Funny story, the label boss B. Riley and I have some history. Brandon actually released my first 12″ EP in the year 2000 on his then vinyl label SQL. He has a trend of naming his labels after abbreviated computer terms. We were also on the same booking agency in the early 2000’s.
About two years ago we re-connected, I got him setup with new distribution, Brandon scrambled to get some new material from preferred artists/producers and the rest is history. When I sent him the 23 tracks to simply check out, most weren’t even finished. They were all in “sketch mode”. Brandon was like, HELLO, finalise these and let’s talk about releasing an album, and here we are!
Will we see any remixes of the album tracks in the near future?
I hope so! We briefly talked about it. But the hunting hasn’t begun. I guess now is a good time to get on that, thanks for the reminder.
An album is of course a massive project, how do you know when to stop making changes and decide it’s completely finished?
It’s a sad, yet inspiring story. My beloved fashion mum Suzy moved to Berlin in December 2020 to retire, be closer to me, and travel around Europe in her golden years. Ever since I was a teenager she always supported me in the realm of techno, music production, and DJing. Also for some freakish reason she really digs the music too. At first she lived with me in my flat (in Berlin), we were having such a great time. Suzy would be cooking dinner and I would be pounding out a rolling drum sequence in my living room studio. On some level I was showing off, but she was my inspiration at that moment.
This went on up until the day my mother passed away from brain cancer eight months later, so a lot of shit went down from the beginning of this album until its completion. This is vital info and needs to be expressed, because it’s the weight of everything I went through during this period. Honestly when I mastered my own album, I couldn’t remember how I made any of it. I would literally have to open the session sequence to remember and trace my steps. It really was a warped journey getting all of it done and finalised.
The alias Positive Conundrum came to me about how I viewed the situation. I got to spend this vital time with my mother who was my muse and what a shit conundrum to discover her terminal illness so fast. There you have it, an honest explanation about a body of music that was derived from a warped life experience.
You’ve previously released on record labels such as BPitch and Soma, which other imprints might we see added to that list in the coming months?
Honestly I don’t remember releasing on Soma, maybe I did a remix at one point, but I would have to search my archives. I have a solo EP coming out on Donnel Knox’s classic label Sonic Mind. I’m excited for this one, Donnel picked out tunes all in the vein of midwest jack tracks! Very underground vibes, I’m not sure when that one is dropping, but it’ll be in the next couple of months. Shameless plug, there is a whole page for those who want to raid my back catalogue.
You’re American, but of course live in Berlin, what are some of the main differences you have noticed between clubs in America and Europe?
I have been living in Berlin for 15 years now. Everything I once knew about U.S. clubs in all the cities I used to frequent is now a blur. The truth is I have retired from clubbing altogether. This is great for my hearing as I have to use my ears all week in the realm of mastering. No more what I used to call “tone deaf Mondays”.
The last time I was in New York was 2018, Brooklyn was popping off with some great new clubs. I was impressed because when I lived in NYC circa 2005, there were only a couple of small Manhattan spots worth going to, but nothing like Berlin and Europe. The BIG difference between clubs in Berlin vs. the U.S. (till this day) is in Berlin there is no last call for alcohol and if the party needs to continue, it continues (for days sometimes), and the police are not breathing down the necks of club owners here.
Thank you for answering our questions. Is there anything else you want to mention before we go?
Thanks for the interview! If any of your readers would like to check out our mastering suite, please visit our website. We specialize in analogue mastering, digital finalising, and cutting master lacquer disc for vinyl manufacturing.
Tim Xavier – Positive Conundrum LP is out December 2nd on CMND CTRL.