Just ahead of his EP release, Alana Daly Mulligan talks with Tim Chadwick on his ever-evolving sound, soul-exposés, and role as Ireland’s first self-love musical icon.
In January 2019 under the flickering fluorescent lamps of Crane Lane, during a time when live events were tangible realities and not just cigarette smoke-infused memories, I met Tim Chadwick. Two years on, he is working with the same alchemic lyricism matched with a mix of revitalised nostalgic visuals and samples, high-pop production sounds, and as Tim put it to me during our chat, the unapologetic “Oh God, is he okay” sad bangers. The fruits of his labours is his upcoming eponymous EP Timothy. “Names are so important, and such key identifiers of who we feel we are or who we want to be”, Tim tells me on our call, and it’s this central concept of self-love and recognition that acts as the fulcrum for the Dubliner’s newest release.
Timothy was born from the artist getting uncomfortably-comfortably close with himself over lockdown. “I don’t think any of the songs would have happened unless there was a pandemic. An EP was the furthest thing on my mind for the first four months…I just really concentrated on surviving”, he says. With a combination of work plans and gigs falling through as the world went into isolation-mode, along with personal heartache, the songs came in place of disappointment: “Everything was just spinning in my head, and then once the dust settled after the first months of the pandemic, I was ‘like okay, I’ve definitely got songs here that I love, and they need to go somewhere. I don’t want them to just slide because who knows what could happen in the next year?’”
The ‘somewhere’ is a five-track journey produced under the watchful eye of Seán Behan. Timothy features Chadwick’s two most recent singles ‘Only Me and ‘If I Gotta Run’, the first, a self-love anthem, and the second, a cautious tip-toe back into the world of potential love after a period of introspection. “I wanted the EP to feel cyclical, maybe we’ll fall in and out of love with different people throughout our whole life, and maybe we’ll fall in and out of love with ourselves our whole life. It just felt like there should be a need to constantly be growing and constantly, constantly finding yourself, because we’re never the same.”
This growth from the isolation of the pandemic and being confined to the four walls of his home gave the artist the chance to reevaluate his happiness and put pen to paper: “I had to sit and look, literally look at myself for the first time in a really long time. It wasn’t that I wasn’t looking after myself, I just wasn’t thinking about myself maybe as much as I should’ve been. I definitely fell into a habit of needing someone to say that I was worth something and worth it, and I was like ‘that’s not a good habit for someone in their late twenties, like, that’s not that’s not what I want.’ I wanted to be able to acknowledge it in myself, and that only came with being by myself and completely by myself.”
A recurring message that Tim conveys to me throughout our conversation is how the difference between being lonely and loneliness has fuelled the creative process: “Craving connection, missing my friends, and wanting genuine contact, meaningful contact. To me that’s lonely, and I think loneliness is totally valid. I used to be embarrassed by feeling lonely and then the pandemic happened and all you could do was sort of be lonely, and I was like ‘this isn’t that bad, because I’m sitting by myself and I’m really all that I’ve got’. I have amazing family and amazing friends but really no one’s gonna look after me more than I do.”
But, “Only Me” champions these moments: the challenges of loneliness confronted by what feels like the most glorious of rolling-up-sleeves ode to ‘doing the werk’: “A part of me will always love you / It’s not enough to lose me for you / So when I try to dive back in, I hope to God I’ve learned to swim” is part of the song’s bridge: not a single line is left unworked, and Chadwick’s dedication to the lyrics is evident with powerful messages of self-love, respect, and the portrait of a person learning to set boundaries for his own happiness: “All my songs have a weird tinge of the positives and negatives to being in love, I think that comes with a fear of growing up and seeing it go wrong every single time. There’s always a hesitancy. The only love song I’ve ever written that isn’t tinged with some sort of shame, or fear, or hesitation is ‘Only Me’ which is about me…I haven’t had a song that’s a pure love song, and I think that comes from the media, and the way that gay relationships have been portrayed…it’s always a car crash. So that’s trickled into how I’ve dealt with my own relationships in the past, and into the music I write. there’s always a sense of fight or flight in them, definitely the case in ‘If I Gotta Run’.
The second-single deals with a scenario many of us are likely missing the past few months: being at a house party, wanting to make a connection with someone in some of the non-HSE approved ways. The track veers away from the expected route of romance found on a night out, as the singer talks about protecting himself, unready to jump into heartache: “Don’t get me wrong, having amazing sexual relationships is great and it’s a part of growing up….I think we assign more weight to them as a social construct of success…for me, those relationships actually fill me with more anxiety…they made me feel like I wasn’t achieving anything and I was only trying to impress what people thought I should be doing. There’s a healthy way and an unhealthy way of dealing with those relationships, and as I’ve grown up those relationships have become less important.” Ultimately, it’s the relationship we forge with ourselves and our identities as we grow up that shapes the way we interact with the world. In our chat, we discuss coming-out, queer representation in media, some of the musicians that helped fuel the creative process of bringing Timothy to life, and giving Tim a new lease of one: “I kind of just wanted to go back to Timothy for a bit you know…So that’s what you can expect in the EP. A lot of feelings.”
What’s the future looking like? Timothy is the most immediate: “I’m going to try, in my own way, find an enjoyable way for me to present the EP and for people to watch.” but he teases other unique aspects: merch, potential collaborations, visuals to go along with each track and future releases. “The thing that keeps me sane is music so that’s what I’m going to do” he finishes. Tim Chadwick is a rare breed in the Irish pop sound: combining charm, humility and heart-puppetry, His lyrics are clear messengers carrying the cautious hope of love and longing that we all hold within us, the want to connect, the desire to be seen for only himself, and all the good within that.
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Listen to the sounds that inspired Timothy on Spotify