He plays off every artist’s penultimate goal. “It’s an exhilarating feeling to be in charge and in control over your own musical career.” But to Jeff Timmons, a founder and former member of the once Grammy-nominated band 98 Degrees, reaching that point in his life did not come easy or without some sacrifices or daunting challenges. It has taken Jeff Timmons almost 10 years to the day since he was on stage with 98 Degrees to release his self-produced first solo CD in 2004 entitled, Whisper That Way. Over the years, Jeff has been mastering the craft of mixing beats, writing songs, recording, and focusing on all aspects of running his company – from the recording end to all points of distribution and promotion. This soft-spoken, mild-mannered, thirty-something talented musician/producer/songwriter is truly working hard and is trying to make this year his best year yet.
Where it all began
Growing up in the small town of Massillon, Ohio, Jeff credits his musical prowess from his father who played the trumpet in High School and his great-grand father who learned to play the violin by ear. At the age of four Jeff recalls his mother playing Barry Manilow on this old gigantic 8-track stereo system. As a child, he would rock back and forth to I Can’t Smile Without You.
Not being the “jock” type in high school, Jeff absorbed himself in glee clubs, choirs and school musicals. “I didn’t really like doing it, but performing and singing always seemed to be very easy,” he said. “I could give people the starting pitches and keys of any songs from memory. For someone, whose town revolves around football, I excelled in the local community theatre even though I felt that I was just too cool to be in a choir until his my high school debate and speech teacher, Mrs. Muhlbach, set me straight. She took me aside and told me to take things more seriously, and that I really had some talent that should not go to waste. I loved her for that.” Since then Jeff Timmons was a man on a journey with a mission and only had one thing on his mind when he travelled half way across the country in pursuit of a dream. Jeff now has full control over singing, arranging, producing and collaborating with other artists.
Jeff’s Musical Take
Asked about this generation’s music style, Jeff reiterates, “I think today’s music has substance, but just in a different way. In my opinion, this generation’s hip-hop style of music has more substance sonically but maybe less substance lyrically or musically at times.” He describes Hip-Hop as amazing. “It (hip-hop) transcended cultures and races and now has become accepted globally as mainstream music. I am pleased that it is here to stay.” Going further, “Most top 40 and hip-hop songs are over produced now to be “sonically perfect” but it takes away some of the feeling and emotions at times. I am even guilty of over-producing on a few of my own songs.” This being said, Jeff has found his niche with his own musical style of music that he calls “Hip-Pop.” His music maintains a crossover “pop” feel and appeals to what is considered current in today’s market.
As a songwriter, Jeff says, “I do not have a set process other than I like to cut vocals by myself because I may do some weird things to get comfortable. Many times I will strip to my boxers (not briefs). Other times I will crawl under the console in the studio. I never record vocals in the booth, which is supposedly to be a production no-no. I don’t care. I hold the microphone in my hand and I sit a in a chair in front of the computer, or I sit on the floor. I make weird faces and fly through the vocal stacks when I’m engineering the session right at the computer. Sometimes, I will have a beer or two or even a glass of champagne to get the vibe. I program all of the sounds myself, usually at the same time. If people saw me in the studio, they would think I was nuts.” I fiddle with sounds for hours…” As Jeff continues to describe his style of arranging his music, “I have a vintage sound module and an MPC-3000 which I do all the beats. I once spent an entire day trying to get the right high-hat sound for a song. I didn’t realize that a whole day had gone by. I will synthesize sounds for hours and then change them later in an instant. It’s a weird process.” As far as the rhythm arrangements go, “I will usually hear the whole composition in my head first. But since I don’t have any formal training of playing the piano, it takes me awhile to program everything in. There isn’t any set way I have in building a track.”
His new sound -“It takes me to a place where nothing or no one else can be except for my children.”
Joining the bandwagon of independent artist, Jeff is now visible on the world wide web. He uses the global connection of the various social networks on the internet. He manages his own grassroots musical campaigns online, and welcomes opinions via blogs and chats from his fans.
In 2010, Jeff released his most anticipated second album online thru Reverbnation.com. All twenty-one (21) tracks are “FREE” to download. Jeff Timmons has cultivated a new sound. It’s has a hint of the renaissance-like producer quality of a Quincy Jones and that of a Smokey Robinson’s signature falsetto – the coalescence of soul and rap. The released album gave him the freedom to be creative. “My passion lies in creating the songs from the ground up. I can create whatever vibe I’m feeling. I love it. It takes me to a place where nothing or no one else can take me except for my children.”
His unique sounds are carefully laid over seductive lyrics and gentle harmonies that clearly speak to a love lost or a love found. The song Sexy Mama, unraveled a particular kind of sound that everyone now is calling “Jefflicious.” One fan described his music as something “delicious and yummy.” All twenty-one tracks present a versatile and vocally matured side of Jeff Timmons.
“I like Reason I Breathe a lot,” Jeff said, “I was feeling that song, Anthony Battle had this piano riff, Matt Fechter and I stayed up one night and wrote and produced the whole damn song in one shot. I was feeling that song in a big way. I just kept adding all these crazy backgrounds and vocals. It may make the song seem a little complicated, but that’s what we were feeling at the time…a lot of intensity.”
The Musical Collaboration
Jeff musically collaborates with his “homies” from Ohio, who are also collectively known as the RPM Trackstars. They discovered their musical ingenuity in the song, Like I Can. Jeff also shared the studio with an Atlanta based rapper named Street Lotto, and the phenomenal “Hip-Pop” was the result in a song entitled, As Far As Eyes Can See. “I also did a couple of songs with this hot producer named Steve Dang. He will be the next big thing. He does incredible tracks. He is a star on the rise.” Among the artists appearing on this album are Poison IVY from Indovizuals (Emotional High), VA, New Breed aka Dope Boy Fresh (Your Body), Rich Cronin of LFO (Turn You Out).
Overall, Jeff is that rare pop singer who can write lyrics filled with deep emotional feelings. Faithful followers of Jeff’s musical career would agree that what makes this multi-facetted musician/producer/songwriter different from the rest of the pack is his uncanny ability to converse with his listeners through his lyrics. It is a true gift to make a girl’s heart melt and to make each of his songs be a personal message to each one of his listeners.
Finally, when asked “Is there anything you’d change about your career?” Jeff tells everyone, “I would keep everything the same. Everything happens for a reason. I am here now, in this way, at this time because of the choices I have made. Good or bad, I have learned some amazing lessons. I have developed into a well-rounded human and spiritual being. Although there have been many highs and lows in my life, I know I still have a long way to go, and I welcome whatever the journey of life brings my way next.”
Jeff is surely making everything count while leaving no stone unturned. He is doing it on his own and on his own terms.