Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jeff Timmons: Soaring on an Emotional High


Jeff Timmons

Jeff Timmons

June 29, 2009

Jeff Timmons: Soaring on an Emotional High

By Madeleine Chong

If album titles were an extension of an artiste's persona and feelings, then the name of Jeff Timmons' latest CD speaks volumes about his life and music endeavors.

As the founding member of now defunct Grammy-nominated boy band 98 Degrees, Jeff strikes one as a musical maverick of sorts. He produced his first solo album Whisper That Way in 2004 from scratch, involving himself in all aspects of its creation. Not content to wade in safe waters, he formed his own label instead of relying on established record giants to promote his music.

With his sophomore effort due for a grand Caribbean cruise launch in September, a new music distribution venture in the works, and an upcoming performance in Manila, 2009 charts several high points and exciting moments for Jeff. No wonder then, that his labor of love is titled Emotional High, an exclusive that Jeff shares with MTV Asia.

You've had the experience of being in a band and striking out solo, what was the learning journey like? Do you have a preference for one over the other?

Both of them are amazing experiences in their own right. This may sound corny, but I feel extremely blessed and fortunate that God has allowed me to do both.

Imagine, I get to sing songs, perform and create for a living! I feel that now, I like being a solo artist a bit better because it has a natural progression and provides growth. I write, produce and engineer the music myself with close friends, and it's really fulfilling creatively.

In past interviews, you've emphasised that 98 Degrees as a band has not permanently split up and will eventually make a comeback. Will that be anytime soon, judging by the current spate of boy band reunions the likes of Take That?

I am not aware of any current plans for a 98 Degrees reunion. BUT- I'm definitely not opposed to it!

It has been a number of years since the release of your first album, Whisper That Way. What has changed and how much of that has inspired/fed into the sound of your new album?

Whisper That Way is a project that is very dear to me. It chronicles what was an extremely difficult time in my life. That being said, it was my first real crack at creating an album on my own. I was new at writing and production. At that time I was still heavily influenced by the 98 Degrees sound, and I produced the record according to what I thought was expected.

With the new album, I write and produce what I feel at the time, or what my writing and production partners are feeling. It is much more professional with regards to the production. It also reflects where I am spiritually and emotionally in my life, which makes the album much more upbeat and fun.

You've been narrowing down tracks for the new album by getting fans and friends on MySpace to select their favorites, which is a great way to get them involved. How has new media changed the face of music and fandom for you?

A lot of people are afraid of the media and change. I embrace and love it. It enables me to get the opinions of the fans, who have been loyal and dedicated to me and my career for over a decade. I take what they say very seriously.

On the other hand, the music is a true and direct reflection of me and what I feel, so ultimately I will take everyone's opinions into mind, but choose the tracks that I feel best reflect me and the goal of the project.

Media is also a great way to become close and personable with fans and friends. It sort of breaks down the imaginary walls that are built up around celebrities. This is good and bad depending on how private you are or how you view yourself. I personally like being close with the fans, as long is it doesn't cross the lines of privacy.

Your album launch will be on a Caribbean cruise, which is really exciting news! Tell us more about that.

A lot of artists are doing events on cruises, but I want the album to be released on a worldwide basis at a huge party. Everyone is invited! Even if folks can't make the cruise, we are aiming to broadcast it on TV all over the world, and on the web.

I want everyone to be a part of something new that has never been done before. I sincerely appreciate the support other countries have given 98 Degrees and myself as a solo artist. The U.S. is a great market, but the rest of the world is bigger and equally important!

You're quite the multi-tasker, having tried your hand out at acting, song writing, producing, arranging and managing your own music label. How do you juggle all these different aspects?

You forgot about being a dad, which is the most important and time-consuming thing! There is plenty of time throughout the day. Every one of us has the opportunity to create whatever we want in life. There are always obstacles, but your brain and consciousness will provide you with answers and the energy to do many things.

I enjoy doing many things and assembling brilliant teams of creatives. It is an amazing thing to see an idea of your own, or someone else's blossom into success. I have a passion for being alive. If I've been blessed with the opportunity to be alive, I want to seize the day and create and accomplish as many things as I can, all while contributing to the greater good.

These answers may seem new-agey, spiritual or religious, but this is what I feel and believe to be true. If I can inspire someone with my music, creations, or examples, and they in turn do the same for someone else, then the effect is exponentially positive and that is the goal.

So, how has fatherhood changed you?

Fatherhood is a lot of fun. I learn as much or more from my kids than I teach them. If I'm busy, and working hard on a song or project to the point of obsession, I will sometimes not want to give myself a break to be with my kids and play with them or do their homework with them.

I will think to myself, "Ok, I have to go get my kids and hang out with them." Without fail, being with them will re-energize me, cause me to reflect on what is real and what isn't, and cause me to prioritize my thinking.

Undoubtedly, time with them cultivates my intuition. These things happen WITHOUT FAIL! It is the greatest secret and the best thing in the world. And, it's free! Watching them grow and develop their personalities is the best thing ever.

What do your kids think of your music?

If my kids hear my music on the radio, they don't think it's a big deal at all. They like my songs, but they couldn't care less. I love it! I don't pull the star trip with fans, and try to be as much like the guy next door as I can, but I'm always trying to impress my kids.

I will turn the radio up and say, "That's daddy on the radio guys!" trying to brag, and they're both like 'whatever..." I guess you're never cool when you're their dad. No matter what! [laughs]

You'll be launching a new venture called iamMedia to distribute media and music content in an unconventional format. How do you see the music industry shaping out in years to come?

I think music needs to be more readily and easily available in the retail market-space, and that's what iamMEDIA is going to do. I believe that the product needs to become more of an experience than just the music.

Videos, interviews, more content, and an online experience need to be included. Artists will need to work more in tandem with corporate sponsors and media forums to provide the consumer and fans with a more solid experience. It's all about giving them more bang for their buck.

Finally, the elevator pitch: In one sentence, sum up why people should check out Emotional High.

The album is all about feel-good fun, and I'm sure listeners will personally be able to relate to more than one song.