Timothy Price is a veteran of Detroit’s art, fashion, and music industries, as well queer activist, discusses his involvement in house and techno music.
Carleton Gholz: This is the Detroit Sound Conservancy #RecordDET night here at Urban Bean Coffee house at Griswold and Grand River in downtown Detroit. It’s December 1st, 2014. And I’m here with someone I’ve known for about 15 years. Tim Price. Tim: briefly describe who you are and what is your relationship to Detroit music?
Well, I came to Detroit working with rock and roll in the 90s, early 90s, and I met all these guys starting a new sound called techno.
I lived in and above Nikki’s and met these guys doing stuff at St. Andrew’s and so forth. And at the beginning of the revolution when parties started to begin. I had a production background so I started helping these people with parties. And these people have kind of gone on to do some things. So that’s pretty much it. And I’ve worked with electronic music now for probably about 25 years. I still can’t sever the umbilical cord or the tie, but I’m trying.
Gholz: And you began, you said, with rock and roll?
Price: Yes. Back in the day, in high school, I was doing home parties with my friends that had bands and doing them in the basement and I became their managers. And we were always coming down here in the 80s and playing at Blondie’s on Seven Mile. And you know, the Harpos on Gratiot I think it is and all the legendary clubs. And so, and I still have the Metro Times from 1987 when the three guys are on the cover. Derek, Juan, and Kevin. Cause we were actually listed for our Harpos ad in there. And that’s when I kind of read about this new sound of music before I even came here.
Gholz: That was the first Detroit record you remember hearing? What was it? How did you hear it and what’d you think?
Price: I can’t even remember that. Well, I definitely probably was a +8, one of Rich’s records that I can remember. I mean, you know, they were all stored in my loft for years.
Gholz: I love that answer, but it could be any Detroit record. It could be rock and roll. It could be, it could be anything. It doesn’t have to be techno-centric just to let you know, give yourself a wider frame.
Price: Well, I can remember like coming down, actually my first concert I ever went to was the Carpenters. And coming down to Detroit with my brother and I think I was seven years old. And we went to the Joe. And it was great, you know, coming down and you know, that was my first night. And I do remember, cause he had all the vinyl and you know, I had a brother who had all the 70s disco vinyl stuff. So that was like all my sound that I was really used to, the Motown.
Gholz: What was the first, now you’ve already said a live show, so I’ll ask you again. The second question is what was the first or best Detroit live music performance you remember hearing? It doesn’t have to be a Detroit show. It could, could be Carpenters, Joe Louis if you want it to be. But,
Price: Show I worked, actually, it was Pink Floyd, Momentary Lapse of Reason,1987. I worked for 40-some hours straight, once when the bed came down and everything and great production. And that’s actually where it really intrigued me because of the 52 tour buses or 52 semis and I remember, you know, I didn’t unload that, but our, the first one was just the office that I worked out of. Cause I was one of the point people for production, for the Silverdome.
And just being in a venue like that, a sold out venue with 70,000 people and being able to be in the pit and just the energy, it was just, I was definitely on a rush.
Gholz: What year was that?
Gholz: 87. Amazing. Motown is known the world over. Describe one aspect of Detroit music history that you wished got more attention.
Price: That’s hard to say because I mean, there’s so many different genres that are blended in. I don’t think anything’s really been passed over. We’re really well known. I mean, worldwide. I mean I kind of have been around the world quite a bit and you know, you say Detroit and everybody really, pretty much the first thing they think of is music, you know, that’s like hand in hand, even as much as automotive, which is great. You know, you think about it and we’re like, we’re known from even in fashion industry, we’re, you know,
They will send scouts here to watch what the people are wearing because they know that we’re kind of on the tip of everything. And any medium, any art, anything like that. So I don’t think we’re missing the boat on anything.
Gholz: What’s the oddest place you’ve ever been in and somebody said something about Detroit, you’d even know that you didn’t even ask him if it just came. Sort of an odd question, but you have been around the world.
Price: 39 countries. Probably Russia actually. You know, you think, when I went there with Kevin and going to Russia and they knew about Detroit and just like a Communist country that you think would be very secluded. And being on a resort Island in New Zealand, they knew, everybody knows Detroit. I mean, you don’t, you don’t have to say Detroit, Michigan. If you just say Detroit, you know, “Where are you from?” “Detroit.” And they’re like, they just put two and two together.
Gholz: Your, so a couple individual questions, just, I want to ask you about what you’re doing right now, too, and give you a chance to talk about that, but you’re not originally from Detroit, the city of, so can you talk a little bit about your musical upbringing, pre your Detroit era?
Price: Well, it’s Saginaw. And you know who’s from Saginaw, right? Stevie. So, and Madonna. But yeah, I grew up in Saginaw and you know, I never really wanted to work with music or whatever. I just, I dunno, it just kind of fell, it all fell into my place, you know, it was, I, my friends all had bands and I’m kind of always the, excuse my language, the bullshitter. So I always made things happen. That’s what I did. And so that’s what I did up in Saginaw and I kind of moved it down here. I went to Grand Rapids for a bit, but then wanted to go and actually I wanted to, I’ve never lived in the city I wanted to live into. I actually asked to go when I was working for a company in Grand Rapids, I said I wanted to go to Chicago. And they kept playing, “no, no, you will fit perfect in Detroit. We have the perfect store for you.” I’m like, really? I’m like, yeah. So then I freaked my family out by moving to downtown Detroit and you know, it was different.
Gholz: And so what are you doing? You this long, I mean 87 even if we date, you know, the, career from there we’re almost getting to 30 years, 25, 30 years in there. What are you doing now? What is now?
Price: I got a couple, I’m doing multiple clients. I’m doing freelance. I have a, actually, I have a theater group I’m working with. We have a theater we’ve renovated in Eastern Market called ArtLab J. It’s at 2120 Russell. It’s an old school and we redone the third floor gymnasium into a theater and the second floor classrooms into mini studios. And it’s for dance and movement theater, which I’m going to start bringing my dream has always, I did a show like this in 2000 at 1515 Broadway. As we get older, I want to have like more of a, not theatrical show, but commission once a month, electronic artist to come in, produce original music. Once he’s got a genre of the music, like an idea, we can come in and pick a dance or movement theater company to perform along with the music.
Price: And then we’ll also bring in a visual artist and like a visual artist who kind of recreate the room from inside to outside. I want to do the boundaries are whatever. And then we’ll do like a Friday-Saturday show here and then a Sunday show up in Saginaw. And I have, like I said, we have the two theaters to work with. We have the Bradley House up in Saginaw, which I’m on the board of, and ArtLab J here, which I’m working with Joori and Reverend Dr. Todd and it’s been great. So kind of have a carte blanche? It’s kind of a new motivation for me. I’m doing multiple things. I’m working with a catering company, we’re developing a new division. I’m trying to get into different things. So, yeah.
Gholz: What’s the next event?
Price: The next event will probably be there the Art Lab J in January. I don’t know if you know, I remember a guy named Garrick, who’s a house dancer I met with, yep, we’ve been talking and he’s probably going to be my first show. So we’re gonna bring him into doing a show at the theater and that kind of stuff. We’re trying to really figure out what we can do, cause we want to have a couple shows under our belt before the electronic music festivals and stuff like that. So, and then again, film is my background. I’ve just got done doing music supervision for a film out of London that was shot in London and Ibiza and we’ll be bringing it to North America next summer. I’m doing, I mean there’s probably about 10 projects under my belt. So
Gholz: I went to a party I believe you were a part of putting together, and it was at the Ramada complex, sort of what have you, and it was a Planet-e party. It involved grass.
Price : Manure
Gholz: Tell me anything about that?
Price: What happened is we were at Winter Music Conference the spring before and there was a place called Tantra that Planet-e did a party one night, which I did. And then the next night was my Rich, we did a, I think a +8 or minus party. I don’t remember what we had as a label at that time. It was in the late 90s. So what we did, we did, we did that. And so we’re like, “Oh, we have to do that up here.” Well again, none of us are like farmers or know landscaping. So I just ordered sod. And the sod kind of had a bad smell because you can order, you know, if it’s outdoors, it’s fine, manure sod. But yeah. That was a crazy weekend cause that was 2001 Movement festival. I had to Planet-e party downstairs. I had the Rich party minus upstairs and every night I had a party and I was Carl’s assistant that year, that we were fired from.
Price: And I also did three press conferences, for one for Kevin, one for with CKDK when we were going to do the club right. And then when we were going to do the Planet-e, Carl wanted to just get his opinion out there. And then for Life Fest when we did the festival in Windsor. So by the time Monday came around, I was, you know, after working, oh actually, and I was commissioned by MTV to be the production assistant with Liz. So I mean that was probably the craziest I’ve ever been. I had a team just everywhere, like, you know, plus being the assistant artistic director for 74 artists at four stages and you know, getting toilet paper for Q-Bert over here.
Gholz: From the perspective of the audience, when you do something like the grass thing, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter what it is, like a little detail like that. What is your hope, from the perspective of the audience member coming in and having an experience? Do you have a sense of what the audience is?
Well, Planet E and Carl’s music’s very organic. And we were trying to create that, you know, it’s just like you have a very natural, you know, like with some of Rich’s events, you have more of a harder edge to it, you know, black fabric, very dark and you know, kind of scary. But like what Planet-e is. Again, we wanted to really, cause we had a Recluse live and actually that party too. We had Moodymann who didn’t want to be visual so we had to put him behind a white screen. And so there’s a lot of little complex things. But again, and then working with Hannah, we, you know, she’s an artist and visual artist. So we really were trying to come up with some different ideas and different things and things that haven’t been done, you know, back then. And with what you can work in for. Cause I remember one party we did with Planet E, Carl wanted a pond and I put it in front of his DJ booth with live fish. [laughs]
Price: I did it. It’s like I got a huge outdoors rectangle pond. I remember having my guys put it in right up in front of the DJ booth at Motor and with fish. And then we, I can’t remember what we draped it with, but you know, whatever they want, I take care of, they come up with the concept just like, the 10 year anniversary of Rich DJing when I cover the front of St Andrews and black velvet curtain from their ceiling. Like you couldn’t see St Andrew’s. It was completely covered in black velvet curtain. And then I changed the sign, so.
Gholz: Last question here. Advise us, I mean I know we’ve just reintroduced ourselves, recently. You just came back, I just came back to the city. But what do you think the Detroit Sound Conservancy should be concentrating on in the coming years? Do you have any advice for us?
Price: Well, just archiving what’s happening because I mean, there’s so much stuff lost and I’m really proud of you guys, what you’re doing. and deduce just the history here. Because so many people don’t know and they want to know. And just like the stories behind the scene and you know, and it’s going to be really important cause we are getting older and these things like, I’m sure there’s some Motown stories that we’ll never hear about that have been forgotten. Motown to all the different genres of music. Even the rock and roll stories, you know, from the, you know, I mean, there’s going to be an amazing complex getting torn down. They’re tearing down The Joe, you know, and look at the history there. It’d be great to do some things about certain venues and all that kind of stuff, but, and however I can help, you know.
Gholz: Tim, thanks for hanging out, man.
Price: No, thank you.