IN CONVERSATION WITH TIEKS words Maisie Daniels - photography Meara Kallista - fashion Sophie Emmett
London-based producer and songwriter Tieks is the man behind one of the most contagious summer tracks we've come across. His single 'Sunshine' featuring Dan Harkna took him to the top 15 charts and has become an anthem for the British summer. Tieks is extremely talented and a creative who creates with coolness and precision. His motto is all about making art that is an extension of who he is and enjoying the process and outcome, and perhaps, that's the secret to making summer hits that are just right. His latest single, 'Break the Rules' featuring UK artist Bobii Lewis combines all things summery and is another hit track. It comes packed with this chilled vibe and captivating beats that easily make you feel good.
We had the chance to catch up with him for a chat to find out a bit more about Tieks, his influences, creative processes and much more.
Maisie Daniels: Okay so, let’s begin with where the name; where does "TIEKS" come from?
TIEKS: It’s been my nickname since I was about twelve years old. It’s an abbreviation of my surname, Tieks. All the teachers and kids at school would either call me Tieks or Teapot. Even my own family called me Tieks. It’s something that just stuck.
M.D: You’re a London lad who’s known for his summertime top tunes. So, can you tell me what your favorite thing about London is in the summer?
TIEKS: London in the summer when the sun is actually out is one of the best places to be in my humble opinion. I think we spend so much of the year in 12º grayness that as soon as the weather gets above 19º everyone starts joining hands and singing Kumbaya. [Laughs] But summer or not, London is one of the best places on earth.
M.D: I completely agree! Your 2015 hit ‘Sunshine’ was such a huge song when it came out. Have you since felt pressure to produce something as popular?
TIEKS: Well, sunshine came out in 2015 but about 12 people bought it. It actually wasn’t a “hit” until 2016. That said, I never feel pressure to do anything. It’s just not in my DNA. I make what I want to make and if people like it. Then great. If they don’t, them the breaks. As cliched as it sounds the most important thing for me is that once I’ve signed off on a song, I’ve served everything it needs to compete in the marketplace. You cannot put pressure on your self regarding art.
Tieks wears top URBAN OUTFITTERS; hat PALACE
M.D: Where would you say that comes from for you?
TIEKS: As an African, it goes against my upbringing. When it comes to art we have to enjoy it and make it an extension of our personalities or don’t do it. I think the concept of the artist struggling for their art is a European construct that doesn’t fit for me.
M.D: What would you say is the secret to creating a successful summertime banger?
TIEKS: Keep it light, keep it effervescent, and put some citrus in it.
M.D: Who are your greatest influencers musically?
TIEKS: There are so many. Mainly producers. Quincy Jones, Niles Rodgers, and Bernard Edwards, Aphex Twin, Daft Punk, Bowie, The Rza. Brian Eno is also a massive influence even on pop songs like Sunshine. There is a little “Enosification” in there.
M.D: Your music embodies Classic Disco. What are your top three Disco tunes of all time?
TIEKS: Great question. Chic - Forbidden Lover, Chic - I Want Your Love, (one of the most perfect dance songs ever crafted) and Patrice Rushen - Forget Me Nots.
M.D: Your songs are so upbeat and fun. How do you get into the ‘zone’ when writing these kinds of tracks?
TIEKS: I listen to old pop records. Preferably on vinyl and preferably from 1973 to 93.
Tieks wears top URBAN OUTFITTERS; hat PALACE; trousers TIEKS' OWN
M.D: Your new track "Break the Rules", is another summertime sizzler! What has the response been like since it dropped at the end of June?
TIEKS: The response has been on the whole good. I've never before received so many messages from people about how they think it’s the best song I’ve done thus far. On the flip side. I think it has been a curve-ball for some people who were expected something a bit more 120bpm dance tilted. I would defiantly say it’s up there with my best work.
M.D: What a great year to drop such a record, what with the amazing summer we have had so far. Why is the track called Break the Rules?
TIEKS: It’s called "Break the Rules" because essentially it's a nihilistic look at the world in the sense of ‘there's me and there's you and nothing else really matters and no one else really cares.” As humans when we are presented with circumstances as those the only way to progress and experience anything is to think outside of the box and break the rules.
M.D: What’s the biggest rule that you’ve ever broken?
TIEKS: I plead the 5th. [Laughs]
M.D: What can we expect next from you? Are you working on anything at the moment?
TIEKS: Another Tieks single will be popping up soon. You will probably also see my name on tracks for some other lucky artists as the year gets darker and colder.
M.D: Lastly, what is your favorite f-word?
TIEKS: Fecundity. Because in my name as a songwriter you need it.
Words: Maisie Daniels
Photography: Maisie Daniels
Fashion: Sophie Emmett
Tieks wears top CARHARTT; hat PALACE; trousers TIEKS' OWN
WATCH TIEKS' "SUNSHINE"
WATCH TIEKS' "BREAK THE RULES (ACOUSTIC VERSION)"
WATCH TIEKS' "BREAK THE RULES"