If you're into your grime/underground music and you haven't heard of Tim & Barry, you best do your research. This duo have been working in the scene for a very long time, snapping everyone from Dizzee Rascal and Wiley, to Rio Ferdinand and M.I.A. I recently caught up with them to talk grime, fashion and how the managed to gain 3+ Million hits on YouTube...
Tim & Barry, how did you two meet?
Barry:We met at College in 1997 and we quickly became friends and started assisting photographers together, Mark Lebon in particular. We realised that we worked well together and just before we graduated, Tim was commissioned by i-D magazine to photograph Wookie, he asked me if I wanted to do the shoot with him and the rest was history as they say.
Can you give me some history on how you got into photography?
Tim:I was given a snappy snap camera by an uncle when I was about 10, at 14 I did a GCSE in photography, then an A level and then I went on to do a national diploma and then topped it off with a degree - so fully institutionalised in photography, haha!
When did you realise you wanted to work with UK grime scene?
Barry:I remember Tim and I were stood at a bus stop in East London and we heard a group of girls singing a track by Dizzee before he even had any white labels out. It started off around 2002 when Tim had a residency DJing at the electricity showroom in Shoreditch, we would smuggle Twin B (1Xtra) in to DJ, as he was 17. He asked us if we could help out putting together a mixtape and it went from there, really. We photographed Durrty Goodz, Jammer, J2k, D Double E and Footsie, then after that people from the scene would call us up and say they wanted photos for their mixtape/ press photos.
Who have been some of the best acts you've worked with, past and present?
Tim:That’s a hard one because we are lucky enough to work with so many amazing artists, but I’d say Wiley (when he turns up!), Dizzee, Tempa T, Jammer and JME have been some of the best people we have worked with.
What projects have you previously been involved in and what has been your favourite?
Tim:Recently shooting the JCDC project, the Pam Look Book (because we finally got to collaborate with our friend Ben Sansbury) and the Radioclit paint shoot for i-D magazine was a lot of fun.
Your work with JCDC was a big deal, how did that come about?
Barry:We were showing a friend (Etienne from Radioclit) our portfolio and there was a photograph of Wiley in a Iceberg history jumper. We started telling him that Iceberg was really popular in garage/grime scene and that it was this French designer who designed for them. He asked us who it was, when we said it was Jean Charles de Castlebajac he laughed and told us how he went to school with one of his sons. We contacted him and told him about how the scene wore his clothes, he knew a few of the grime artists and was really excited. He then invited us to his retrospective exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum where he gave us a guided tour of the show and invited us to Paris for his next fashion show. We took photos backstage at his show and then went back to his studio and showed him our portfolio. He loved our photos and said that he really wanted to work with us. A couple of months later he called us up and said that he wanted to commission us to photograph his archive for his 1st major retrospective in Paris. Six months later, we had 3 Photographs 11meters high hung out side the Muse de Galleria - you could see then from the top of the Eiffel Tower with the naked eye, which was amazing.
When did you decide to make the move from photography to videography?
Barry:It was at the time of Jean Charles de Castlebajac retrospective in Paris, we had talked about moving image for a while but as a small company we didn’t have the resources really to do it. Then with the advent of YouTube we thought - let's just start. Growing up on programmes like The Word, Dance Energy and Rapido that were fexciting and had live music, we were really bored of the same old MTV-mimed videos; they never really seemed to capture the energy and passion which real musicians have. Tim and Barry TV is all recorded live, whether it’s a band singer or MC.
Your YouTube channel has been a great success, how has that been for you?
Tim:It has gone better than we could have expected. So often in the past, we would pitch musicians to magazines and they would say, ''Eeeerrrrr sounds interesting" - but then would not commission us. And then a year or two later, they would come back saying, ''Oh you remember you said about such and such...well, we are ready to do them now.'' The YouTube channel gave us the platform to work with who we wanted, when we wanted.
So what do you prefer doing, snapping or filming?
Barry:Oh that’s a hard one! There is nothing like looking at a photograph you just took and thinking that is the one, you know it instantly, where as with moving image it's not that immediate response; you have to capture the footage, edit it, output it, and then you can see the results. The satisfaction you get when you post a video and it suddenly takes off, people commenting on it and posting it on blogs, it’s really satisfying in a direct way.
What are your plans for the future?
Tim:www.dontwatchthat.tv is an online network of TV channels. Many of our friends and contemporaries have been playing about with moving image, so when we started telling people that we were going to set up our own website and stream video ourselves, they really interested about putting it on our site. Now Jean Charles de Castelbajac has a weekly channel (JCDCTV) , Ben Drury (The Silent Listener), Tim Westwood, SB.TV Palace Wayward Boys Club (PWBC ) JME and Tempa T (Par TV) and of course timandbarrytv. The idea is a new video goes up everyday; as well as each channel having an archive of their weekly show, there is also going to be more sporadic channels from people like Ben Sansbury putting up videos when they feel like it. There’s going to be blogs, forums and photos too, so it's hopefully going to be a nice little creative community that has absoulutely nothing to do with MySpace, YouTube or Facebook.