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Byron Shire
February 28, 2021

Interview with Tim Snider

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Tim plays at Bluesfest with Nahko and Medicine for the People and with Chitty and Pato at Brunswick Picture House

Tim Chitty Pato

Brunswick Picture House  |  Friday 26 April  |  7pm  |  $28.50 – $32

Nahko and Medicine for the People have taken the world by storm. The band are one of the headlining acts at Bluesfest this year but a few people in the band decided that they may not head back to the US straightaway! Justin ‘Chitty’ Chittams, Patricio ‘Pato’ Zuniga, and Tim Snider are stepping down from the big stage of Blues for a few intimate Aussie gigs. Many would remember Snider from his solo performance at Mullum Music Festival last year where he blew people away with his wild violin playing. It’s something to witness, and it’s impossible not to be carried away by his exuberant and passionate energy. It’s clear that Snider started out classical, but the universe found him and he seems to play from that songbook more these days!

‘I was on a strict path of the classical violin trajectory,’ says Snider. ‘I remember hearing rock’n’roll music and getting so inspired and going to my teachers and saying can I do this! Can we try it blues or gospel and these different ways? It was playing in different ways that inspired me. You grow up in the world and you have a different perspective of the same 12 notes. I started chasing after different styles of music that led me on this journey; having a classical foundation was really healthy and gave me a jumping point but I wasn’t satisfied.’

Players coming together with a creative and soul blending simpatico is the magic of most great music. ‘It’s totally like dating,’ laughs Tim. ‘In high school I quit violin and picked up guitar and played with whomever would jam with me. I had a friend in high school into flamenco music; we hit it off, and I experienced the chemistry. It’s more than music; you can put the best musicians in the room, and it’s not going to happen. What led me to Nahko and this crew is the music and the intention. I always felt out of place in Reno (Nevada) where I live, and meeting travelling musicians and connecting with people through this means of art, having conversations musically where we can’t speak the same language but we can onstage musically, is a game changer.

‘There are the moments when the music is playing you; when that happens that’s when you know that something special is happening. The first time I heard Justin sing I melted, I thought where have you been all this time? And Pato, who is on the show, is always playing music and he is never stuck, and being inspired by the people he plays with. He pushes you. He inspires you.

‘The thing that binds us is a feeling, more of a feeling than a concrete thing, and it’s an understanding of what music is capable of.’

Tim Snider was never going to be someone who played conventional pop for a conventional label. His music and the way it finds its audience is almost something that could only have happened now, at this time in the world where technology allows us to access something less contrived, more organic and, dare I say it, ‘real’.

‘We are super off the grid,’ laughs Tim. ‘I think it’s possible because of the age we live in and social media; it’s a super exciting time to be a musician. This wasn’t possible before; record labels would put out and push and promote. We are in control of what we do and where we go and what gets out there.’

This allows players like Snider an incredible artistic freedom to skirt around genre and just play what comes.

‘For me as an artist and as a musician, when I am playing it feels like a desperate attempt to reach my subconscious. That feeling is as much for me as it is for anyone else; if I feel that other people will feel that, and after doing enough shows and getting lost in moments and I realise… oh crap, people are coming with me! I am more of an introverted type of person. When I am in my flow, I get lost and people can get lost also. Interesting how that flow is different for everyone; the more you learn what works for you, the more you can be authentic.’

Tim is looking forward to playing the smaller rooms on their 6-date tour. ‘To be in smaller rooms and really connect with people just feels good. I feel like I need both in my life; if we are just doing big things all the time I feel a little disconnected.’

And for music like Snider’s connection is a core value, it’s the key of what he does onstage with his fellow musicians and what happens in the room with the audience.

Connection… the core values – the thing that connects and that it’s more than the music, it’s more than the art; it’s about connecting as people and showing each other our vulnerabilities, and realising we are all in this together. Those moments are the real stuff and keep us going, and what drew us to each other in the first place. It feels like a continuation of the 60s and 70s – we get to play to play Woodstock this year, 50th anniversary. I just saw this article; everyone is in this article, and he mentioned Nahko Medicine for the People as one of the acts they were most excited by. It’s because I think we do operate with a lot of the feeling that a lot of those bands did when Woodstock started.’

Improvisation is at the heart of Snider’s work. ‘I love making it up on the spot. That spontaneity is tangible. It excites me. It excites other people. I think it’s more of a feeling than anything. People don’t need to be music scholars to understand when something is real or fresh. We all need inspiration. I have been inspired by other people, and I hope to inspire people.’

Earlier this year Snider released an EP called Humanity. ‘There is talk about change,’ he says, ‘but what does it look like? What do we want see? The more I realise we are trying to change the outside world I realise we can’t do that without changing the internal world. It feels like it’s part of our society and our time. Our experience is part of our society and our time. The EP was inspired by Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator – I sampled some of the speech in the last track. In the 1940s he was talking about the telephone and the aeroplane and how they should be inventions that bring us together. Fast forward to now and we feel more isolated; it’s not the tools that are the problem, it’s us. In order to change it’s important to look at the past.’

Tim Snider plays with Nahko and Medicine for the People at Bluesfest this year and you can also catch him with Chitty and Pato when he plays the Brunswick Picture House on Friday 26 April. 


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