FROM a tiny studio in Heaton, hidden above a busy shop, big things are happening.
Behind the turntables, mixing desks and microphones, Tim Shaw runs Triptik Records – a boundary-pushing electronic music label that’s putting North East talent on the national agenda.
In the first three months of its re-launch, Triptik has already won the praise of British DJ Mr Scruff and dub-step sensation James Blake.
“This city is bursting with creativity and talent and it needs to be exposed to a wider audience,” says Tim, 23.
“I’m passionate about making that happen.
“I want to show artists that they don’t need to go to London to make it in the music industry. They can do it in the North.”
The guitarist, DJ and producer is a familiar face on Newcastle’s club scene and has spent the last three years co-running Inertia, a dance night at World Headquarters in Newcastle.
He is also a regular spinner at The Head of Steam on Neville Street.
Since graduating from Newcastle University in 2010 with a degree in music, he has worked for The Sage Gateshead as a community musician as well as DJing in the UK and at festivals abroad.
Known for his work ethic and drive, it wasn’t long before he was head-hunted by Newcastle dance producers John Elliott and Andrew Archer, who work under the name Trafik. It was quite an accolade for someone so young.
“Trafik were huge in the late 90s onwards and were signed to Global Underground, which is a huge label,” says Tim, who grew up near Penrith, Cumbria.
“They were producers I admired and I met them when I DJ’d for them at their Trafik Live event at Forth Banks.
“We stayed in touch and when they asked me to manage their label I said ‘yes’ straight away. It was an amazing opportunity.”
While his music credentials were rock solid, Tim embarked on something of a crash course in business management to take him from musician to label boss.
He said: “I took some time out, got a business grant and went on courses and seminars to learn about brand development and business management. I’ve learnt a lot and I’m really looking forward to making Triptik a success.”
In the last few months the label has released Newcastle garage and techno DJ Joonipah’s EP called Whoopah and a solo album from Mr Blazey, a member of Tyneside hip-hop group Verbal Terrorists.
Tim explains: “Years ago Triptik was a purely techno label, but I want to showcase a wide range of styles of dance music.
“On Blazey’s album alone you’ve got remixes of Newcastle band Mammal Club and collaborations with well-known local rappers Drop Dead Fred and John Long.
“This eclectic approach is reflected in the label and I’m hoping to take it down the Ninja Tunes and Warp Records route where people trust the name and appreciate many different styles.”
Next up is the release of an EP from dub-step artist Jayou, who came to attention with his track Murderer, co-produced by in-demand US producer Diplo. There are also planned releases from German and Australian dance artists.
He said: “It was a real coup getting Jayou to release his latest EP with us. He’s got huge respect and is really popular at the moment so we’re thrilled to have him onboard.
“It’s an exciting time as the label’s reputation begins to really grow.”
Tim believes his family’s creative background has been a key inspiration behind his decision to take the plunge to work for himself at such a young age.
His father Clem Shaw worked as a Tyne Tees broadcaster in the early 1990s before turning his hand to film production while his late mother Karen Foulds was a talented artist and sculptor based in Cumbria. His older sister Becky Mark-Lawson is also a film producer.
He says: “The people around me have carved their own careers in quite an independent way and that’s something I definitely take inspiration from.
“People such as Smoove, from funk and soul band Smoove and Turrell, have also been instrumental in where I am today as he acted as mentor to me while I was at university and introduced me to so many great musicians.”
With Newcastle now firmly considered his home, Tim says Tyneside provides constant musical inspiration and is the natural home of Triptik Records.
“Newcastle has been constantly informative to me since I moved here as a student. The nightlife is renowned for stag and hen dos, but underneath the surface there’s a lot of interesting things going on.
“Dub-step, house, garage, hip-hop … people want to hear this when they’re out and Triptik Records is going to bring it to them.”