Tim & Jean: Citizens Of The World

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Interview Muna Noor
Image Mercury Records

Starting at the tender age of 15 and 19, Tim & Jean have been quite the phenomenon in Australia. And not the Disney kind either. The duo of Tim Ayre and Jean Capotorto has been tearing it up at music festivals and has even performed as a supporting act for Moby. We caught up with them backstage at the Splendour In The Grass festival recently. Turned out, they’re quite the travelers.

Does the party follow you everywhere?  Are you the kind of guys that say “Alright, everyone back to mine!”
Tim [laughs] Never. I think when we turn 18… no, I’m kidding. I’m 21, just so you know.  The funny thing is I did most of my partying when I was 17, ya know?
Jean But I’m just a really anti-social person, to be honest. I don’t know, I enjoy spending time on my own.
T Writing songs, you know what I mean. And I’m just there creeping in the shadows going, “Just do that, mate” and sing a note and he’ll be like “Yeah ok, we’ll use that.” Like when I’m not there… he hates me.

So how do you feel about your latest album now that it’s out, and how’s it doing?
J I think it’s a big relief to finally get the album out because we wrote it back in 2009 and I was 15 and he was 19, so it’s like we were sitting on it for a long time just trying to get in the label and everything sorted out. So, it was a big relief to get it out and now that it’s out, we’re just trying to get onto new material.

What are you guys listening to now?
J Same thing for the past three years. Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, all these soul stuff. I really love jazz and r’n’b. That’s the kind of stuff we like listening to. Our other influences are like Fleetwood Mac, Radiohead, Tom Petty.
T I guess it’s a lot of mixtures of the bands that we like. We don’t have one particular style that we stick to. I guess a lot of people stick to one style but it’s good to just venture out into different avenues of music and get different vibes because that’s how people get something close to “original”. When you get something a bit more diverse.

A lot of the music that you name-checked are American. Any plans to tour the US?
T We went over there and recorded an album over there for two weeks. I wish we could tour America. That would be amazing! I think that’s one of the plans.
J Because we’ve never been out of the country before and for us to go there doing music, was a huge thing for us. Just to hang out in New York and see the sights. Being tourists.

So you got to do the tourist thing?
T Yeah, of course. You go to New York, then you go to Times Square and the next week you spend it in Harlem.
J We were mixing the records for two weeks. We did a lot of walking. We did some stuff in Harlem. Just put together a clip. It was sort of a reminder of the time we had in New York.
T Oh, and London was amazing just to like drive through. We walked around for a bit and admire the old buildings. Seeing how we’re from Perth, there’s not much history besides a hundred years ago when you got really old stuff which shows you where it all comes from. I think the whole reason of why we do it is so we can go back to our friends and just talk.

Music isn’t a syllabus in Malaysian schools. How important do you reckon music is as a syllabus in schools?
T I found a lot of great musicians who come over to Australia from Malaysia and Singapore and stuff and they’re great technical musicians and they can play really well. It seems like their doing it because of what they couldn’t do back home. I feel like they’re great because of that, because they want it.
J I never really studied music in school because I wasn’t really into the way they were teaching, to be honest. How music is taught, “this is the way to do this, you have to do it a certain way”.
T How do you teach someone to be artistic? You can be academical with music but it’s nothing, I think I mentioned earlier about being original, and that’s you know, in this society classes are being wrong.. to be original is to be wrong. You got to do the wrong thing to be original these days. That’s my advice.
J A lot of people get shunned in the educational department and stuff. My mum is a teacher and in terms of music, it’s slow, even in Australia. They still have it but it’s not mathematics. They want you to be a professor rather than a musician. There should be a balance of it. It should be equal.

We were flown here by AirAsia X. But if you were to fly anywhere in the world, just for yourself, for a bit of fun, where would you go?
T Malaysia?

Really? Stop buttering us up!
T No really, I’ve never been there.
J I’d go back to New York, just because we had such an amazing time there. I’d like to spend a few months there. Just rent out an apartment and just really hang out and embrace the culture. I just had such a ball there. That’s where I’d probably go back to. There, or Barbados. [laughs]
T Barbados would probably be my favourite, now that you’ve said that! That’d be cool. Get a tan!
J We can’t get tans.
T Spain? Our friend has a place there. We’d love to just go and chill out, but it’s good to check out the places that are cold and that have history. You know like, London.
J I’d really like to go to places where my favourite bands are from. Like, Nirvana in Seattle.

We’re holding you to your word. Better see you guys in Malaysia soon. 

Tim & Jean tore up the stage as part of the festival line-up of Splendour In The Grass 2011 in Woodford Queensland. JUICE was flown there by Air Asia X. Splendour In The Grass is back this year, set to be held at Goldcoast. Find out more about the 2012 festival at www.splendourinthegrass.com.

Air Asia X flies daily to Gold Coast from Kuala Lumpur and back, so book your flight tickets now at www.airasia.com. Air Asia X also flies to Melbourne, Perth, Seoul, Tokyo and many more. Don’t forget to ask about Air Asia X Premium and its lie flat beds.

For the latest on Tim & Jean, check out www.timandjean.com.au.

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