By: Chelsie Firestone
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
I would suspect that a good majority of the people reading this article are familiar with Tim Kays through his work here at The Village Reporter. He is the guy with the camera who has become known not only for is photographs, but mostly for devotion to the students in our coverage area and his touching feature articles. I would be the first to agree that he is very much that guy… but there is more to him that the majority of our readers don’t know.
“It seems that I am more well known in Europe than I am here in Northwest Ohio,” Tim explains. It would seem to beg the question of what Tim would be better known for in Europe than in his own home stomping grounds of Northwest Ohio. To say “music” is a deceivingly simple answer.
Drawing first on the influences of Tangerine Dream, Jean Michel Jarre, Michael Hoenig, Vangelis, Michel Huygen, Hans Joachim Rodelius, and Brian Eno and then, later, artists such as Gert Emmens, Jack Hertz, Mike Carss (Altus), Daniel Robert Lahey, Cousin Silas, Wendy Waters (Magnetic Wind), Phillip Wilkerson, and Bing Satellite, just to name a few, Tim began recording multiple albums.
It took some time but, with a little cajoling from a friend, Tim eventually made these albums available to the public. His first release came in 2013. It was after the Sandy Hook tragedy that Magnetic Wind decided to release a compilation on Jack Hertz’ Sounds 4 Good Label. Tim submitted an old track, “Footdancin’”, to the cause which would be included on the benefit release entitled “For Our Children”.
Since that time, Tim has had releases on the BFW, HAZE and Petroglyph labels, as well as Jack Hertz’ Aural Films label. His music has been played on several stations, such as StillStream and Radio Sunrise. His total recorded albums count now stands at over 30.
So, why does no one in Northwest Ohio seem to know this? Well, the truth is that Tim really doesn’t talk about it all that much and, even when I’ve asked him about it, has had a way of shrugging off his accomplishments. The majority of the information in this article comes from the Aural Films website that includes his biography and an outline of his work. He sent me the information for the purposes of this article. I didn’t even know it existed before then – and I work with him every day. He talks about how the kids in each of the schools are doing. He talks about the weather patterns. We share musical influences with each other, which we don’t always agree on.
He talks to me about the music but he doesn’t really ever say much about his accomplishments. He remains humble and usually more focused on the accomplishments of others rather than his own.
This humble nature extended up and through the release of one of his latest albums, “Phenomena”, and the album’s success. The album, which was released in April 2015, found its way onto the OWMR World Top 100 charts in May 2015, and hung around there for a solid nine months. The album’s success has culminated in its recent nomination in the category of “Best Electronic Album” by One World Music Radio.
All of the tracks on the album were written, performed, and produced by Tim on Moog, Roland, Korg, and Arturia synthesizers and Gibson, Fender, and Stienberger guitars. Do you remember me telling you that Tim talks about the weather? There’s a reason for that. Tim explains that he has been “a spotter for the National Weather Service since 1982. The ‘Phenomena’ album is a collection of various meteorologically-influenced pieces, several with backing tracks of local storms”. The album, itself, took almost two years to complete and was released on Aural Films. Aural Films welcomed the release by saying “Aural Films welcomes the newest release by Tim Kays who returns with another fascinating excursion into the mysterious world of weather (with) ‘Phenomena’. Hear a collection of music inspired by the measurement, observation, analysis, and study of events in the invisible ocean we know as the atmosphere”.
Tim’s love of music dates back to when he played in a high school garage band and worked part time at WBNO while a student at Bryan High School in the 1970s. During this time Tim was, like most young musicians, inspired by the contemporary artists of the day. However, we he fumbled through a box of promotional albums that had come into the radio station, and which had been deemed unworthy of airplay, Tim found the album that would open his eyes and ears to music in a whole new way and which would become one of the most influential albums of his own career. That album was Tangerine Dream’s “Stratosfear”; it is an album Tim still references in passing today.
Tim eventually moved out of the garage band days and up through the ranks of being a semi-professional and then a professional musician. During this time, he “tinkered with Moog and Arp synthesizers, but always just as a fill or lead instrument behind the guitars. He toured the country during the 1994 Lollapalooza tour but eventually, around 1998, began using Roland guitar synthesizers to expand the sound. A decade later he began recording using the Rolands, along with a Moog and a Yamaha, to take his first awkward foray into the genre that had stunned him over two decades earlier … electronic music.
It was after a decade long relationship ended in 2009 that left Tim needing to “self-medicate”, and which left him with plenty of emotion to draw inspiration from, that Tim found a new voice by putting down the guitar and relying almost entirely on synthesizers and sampled sounds. It was then that all of the influences and inspirations came together and the compositions which would culminate in his 30 plus albums began to flow.
Tim is a life long native of Williams County, having graduated from Bryan High School and Northwest State Community College. When he’s not working on his music, he spends the bulk of his time with his parents, at the church, or working here at The Village Reporter covering high school sports and writing features. He says with a smile that he is “happily single … but open to changing my destination for the right lady”. My bet is that if you ask him about the success of “Phenomena” that he will respond to you in much the same way he does me. “It was an accident,” he claims. “I just wanted to see if I could do it.” I sometimes wonder if he is apologizing for something.
Mostly I think that his humble nature makes him surprised at his own success.
Tim will find out how his nomination for the OWMR “Best Electronic Album” turns out on June 4, 2016.
“Phenomena”, as well as several of Tim’s other releases can be found at https://auralfilms.bandcamp.com/. In addition to those releases, Tim has also appeared on several benefit albums in support of various causes. The latest, and one of the biggest, is “Saving Cecil’s Pride” with Grammy Award winning artist Ricky Kej. That album is available at https://savingcecilspride.bandcamp.com/. The 3-CD set is limited to 300 copies and is now shipping.
More info on Tim can be found at www.facebook.com/tim.kays.5
Chelsie can be reached at