Behind every artist and song is a team of masterminds. These include the producers and engineers in the studios, to the supporting musicians at concerts and countless others. Many times the public may know a few of their names, but more often than not, these individuals are forgotten. While it’s no fault of the public’s, these individuals deserve to be recognized for their contribution and work. This includes renowned bassist, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, Timothy Bailey Jr. He has toured the world while working with Ariana Grande, Ruben Studdard and many more.
Timothy is a soft spoken individual who lets his bass and production do the talking for him. We actually got him to put down the bass and speak with us for an exclusive interview.
What was it that made you go from banging on pots and pans as a kid, to picking up and learning so many instruments?
I went from that to other instruments because I couldn’t have a set of drums, considering they’re a pretty loud instrument. The first instrument they offered me the opportunity to play in school was the violin. It was musical, so I took it and ran. That was in the 4th or 5th grade. Then as a 6th grader, all of the violin spots were taken in the orchestra, so I moved to the viola. I did that for three years until I could join the jazz band in high school, moving back to my first love of the drums.
When did you realize that music was what you want to pursue as a career?
It wasn’t until I moved to Louisville, KY that the lightbulb went off that I could possibly be a professional musician and not have to rely on a traditional 9-5 for my income. During a college fair I saw a brochure for Berklee College of Music in Boston, and even though I didn’t get the opportunity to attend, that pretty much served as the ignition of the flame of becoming a professional musician.
If you weren’t doing music, what do you imagine you’d be doing?
I’ve always felt the need to create in some kind of way. So if I weren’t doing music, I’m sure I would be doing something where I would be able to express myself in some sort of way.
Having worked with renowned talents, what have all these experiences taught you about music, life, and yourself?
The experience of being around a lot of the renowned talents has taught me not to take certain things for granted. The grass may look greener on the other side, but I’m able to do certain things that some of the people I work for are unable to do. I can still go to the grocery store, mall, or airport without fear of being stampeded by the paparazzi. I’m able to go to a restaurant with my family without having to be interrupted by groups of people who may want autographs and then having to deal with the backlash if I say it’s “not the right time.”
Is there one experience that stands out above all others?
I have been able to sit down with musicians like Bobby Sparks, Felix Pollard, Kevin Randolph, Brian Fraizer-Moore, Nisan Stewart, Johnny “Natural” Najara and countless others. Sitting with them and listening to their stories, getting knowledge from them, learning who some of their influences are, listening to what’s on their iTunes playlist, it all expanded my musical palate and appreciation.
What is it about “doing production that has your heart” versus all the other things you have going on?
Well, I’m a creator at heart. As a musician, my job is most often to play a bassline that’s either already been written or already been played by someone else. Sometimes I’m given the freedom to add my touch to it, but generally, I’m replaying records on the road. When I produce, I get to take nothing and make something.
Being able to perform and travel the world with respected artists, what are the most rewarding and challenging things you experienced?
Even when I made the decision that I wanted to be a professional musician, I don’t think I took into consideration that I would actually be able to travel. And someone else would pay for me to travel and make sure that I’m taken care of. AND that that travel could be outside of the United States of America. Some of the most rewarding opportunities come from traveling to places that I read about in my school books in grade school.
I’ve already missed a couple of my daughter’s performances and it’s a guilty feeling. Thank God for modern technology, so I’ve gotten to Facetime some of them and received videos of the events, but nothing beats being present. There have been times that I’ve wanted to plan vacations or even go home and visit my parents, but the fact that this occupation is so irregular, we don’t always have the luxury of planning events so far in the future, based on the fact that we never know when an important call for a gig, session or tour may come in. So we’re constantly living life on the edge, but I almost wouldn’t have it any other way.
What advice do you have for other musicians/instrumentalist looking to achieve their dreams?
There will be a lot of challenges placed in front of you. Those challenges will make you want to give up, move back home (or never leave home/your comfort zone), pick another profession, etc. One of the biggest disappointments is when an opportunity shows up, and you’re not ready or prepared for it. And it’s that thing that you’ve been praying and hoping for, but you may have taken too much time away from focusing on your dream that you aren’t sharp anymore. You have to stay sharp. Keep practicing, keep listening, and do whatever you have to do to stay in love with your craft. It will get difficult, but if you stay at it, it will pay off in the end. Stay hungry for knowledge and wisdom, stay humble and teachable, and keep a positive attitude. You have to believe in yourself first, even if nobody else sees it at first. They’ll come around.
Can you tell us a little about the projects you have going on including your production group, ‘The Beat Traffickers?’
We have to keep a lot of our current works under wraps until final albums and set lists are released, but we’ve been doing a lot of work with platinum-selling and Grammy award-winning artists and songwriters.
I just found out a project was released a couple of weeks ago entitled Let’s Go EP by Brandon Estelle. Some other recent releases that we produced are Dreaming In Color by Jeevo (whole project), Play To Win by Josh Vietti (whole project), “Sisters” by Noischi (song), “Je Pense À Toi” by B. Slade (song), “Shadows and Diamonds” by Elijah Blake (song).