Interview: TIM ARNOLD

Tim Arnold has released his first ever Christmas single ‘Be There To Find You’, which is raising funds for Kathy Hahn, who lost her home in a fire. Here we chat to Tim about how the song came about, working again with the Camerata Choir and recording music in the modern age…

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How did you first meet Kathy Hahn?

I met Kathy in 2016 at Canadian Music Week in Toronto. It was my first time in Canada and she really took me under her wing and helped me get to know lots of people who have since become great friends who I’ve worked with on my music. Her energy knows no bounds, she really is an extraordinary human being. She’s extended family.

You were moved greatly by her losing her home and wrote the song ‘Be There To Find You’. When did you decide to release it as a charity single?

Lately, I’ve been writing songs very instantly in reaction to whatever is happening around me. That’s very new to me because usually I’d write a verse, or a chorus, leave it for a while and go back to it. But in the last 6 months, I tend to work on a song without stopping until it is finished. I try to capture all the inspiration as it’s happening rather than getting bogged down with deliberating over choices. As soon as I heard Kathy and her mum had lost their home in the fire, the song just poured out. There’s been a lot of events this year where bad things have happened to good people, so when I was writing it, in addition to Kathy, I think I was drawing on the stored up emotions about Grenfell, the shootings in America and everything else that we’ve witnessed this year. I started a fundraiser on GoFundme and Kathy has managed to find a new apartment, but she doesn’t have anything in it, she’s even been sleeping on the floor because she doesn’t have a bed. I just wanted to do whatever I could to cushion the terrible blow she’d been dealt. I recorded the song and then more musicians both in the UK and Canada played on it too. A lot of effort went into it, so it felt right to make it part of the campaign to help Kathy.

The Camerata Choir feature on the single. How did you visualise their contribution to the music and what was it like returning to the Isle Of Wight again to work with them?

When I listened to the first rough version of the song, it felt like it was something anyone could sing to someone who had lost their way, so I added the lyrics ‘Don’t ever think you’ve lost your way’ – which I think we all need to hear during those times of hardship, because there is always light at the end of a tunnel, but you can’t always see the light when you’re in the tunnel. I wanted the song to be the sound of that light, for Kathy or anyone who needs that reassurance. I heard the voices in my head chanting the words, like angels – and I think of The Camerata choir like that, they really are angelic with their music. I’ve had a love affair with The Isle of Wight these last four years and the choir are a huge part of that. And Kathy had been there with me in 2016 when I played the festival. She loves the island too and feels the festival has a deep spiritual energy, so it was poignant for the song.

What for you makes a good, memorable Christmas single and what are your top 3 Christmas songs?

Be There to Find You wasn’t planned as a Christmas single, although there are sleigh bells, a church bell and a choir at the end of the record! I don’t know what makes a memorable Christmas single – I think it’s quite a British institution isn’t it? The most memorable Christmas singles for me are the ones I heard when I was a child: Wham! – Last Christmas, Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas? and Frankie Goes To Hollywood – The Power of Love. They would be my top three, but I listen to a lot of Brenda Lee and Sinatra at Christmas too, as well as Mike Oldfield’s In Dulci Jubilo!

This single was created and recorded remotely by the musicians involved including using Facetime. Does the internet help musicians more in music creation now than the traditional way of recording and working together in a studio?

I think where the internet has momentarily stunted the attention span of the public, it’s opened up an incredibly positive world of possibilities in creative communities on a global scale. I try to remember that recorded music is still a relatively young art form, it’s still defining itself. The overseas interconnectivity musicians have nowadays is one of the most powerful and liberating developments technology has made in the last decade. I think a lot of us who have felt isolated now feel that creative relationships are not restricted to the town we live in anymore. That’s been at the heart of a lot of my work over the last year and it’s inspired me to become much more active and confident. Ironically, for all the corporate proclamations about sharing and being connected, many people in reality, spend a lot of their life living through their avatars on social media. But it won’t last forever, a human’s longing for real connection will fight its way through eventually. I think new generations will look back at this time in the way like we look back at slavery now. It’s a period of readjustment. Some people are using it and some people are being used by it. The positive flipside is that artists are using the connectivity to create with an expanded imagination. In that sense at least, Bowie’s prophecy about the internet was spot on.

What in an ideal world would you like the single to achieve?

The priority is that some money is raised for Kathy, but also that anyone who has suffered in a tragedy hear the song and remember that there really is always hope.

Message for your fans…

I still connect very personally to fans of my music. It started off because I had no other way to share my work other than social media. When I started making solo albums, I thought that close connection was a path towards an eventual traditional method of sharing music through record companies, radio and TV. But the more music I make, I see that traditional approach just belongs to the last century. Oddly, as I get older, I embrace tradition a lot less. I’m all for fresh changes.

Every purchase, like, comment and share of my music is what keeps me going and although I haven’t met all of my fans, I love each of them for making that investment. It’s what keeps my creative fire burning.

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