Tim of Boy & Bear’s Savvy Seven

Photo by Daniel Boud

Formed in 2009, Sydney indie-folk band Boy & Bear have just released an acoustic album, At Golden Retriever Studio consisting of songs from their previous four studio albums, including “Southern Sun”, “Limit of Love” and “Suck on Light”. Boy and Bear consists of five band members: Dave Hosking (vocals, guitar), Tim Hart (drums, vocals), Killian Gavin (guitar, vocals), Jonathan Hart (banjo, mandolin, keyboards, vocals) and David Symes (bass).

In 2011, Boy & Bear dominated the ARIA’s, taking out five awards including Album of the Year and Best Group. In the same year, they won the Australian Music Prize for their debut studio album Moonfire and in 2012 they won an APRA award for Breakthrough songwriter of the year. Boy & Bear have been nominated for many other awards over the years such as Best Australian Live Act and Best Rock Group. 

Drummer and backing vocalist for the band, Tim Hart, who also has a solo career as a singer-songwriter, has released two albums, Milling in the Wind and The Narrow Corner. Tim’s inspiration for his music stems from artists such as Simon and Garfunkel, Boy Dylan and Neil Young. Tim has worked with many artists in his solo career, including Boy & Bear’s Dave Hosking and former member Jake Tarasenko, as well as multi-instrumentalist and producer, Mark Myers, the Middle East’s Jordan Ireland and New Zealand singer-songwriter, Luke Thompson. Now, over to you, Tim!

What inspired you to pursue music as a career?

I just really love music and wanted to spend my life writing, recording, and playing shows. I thought it was worth a shot to try and make it happen. Lots of people told me that it’s too hard to make a career in music and that I needed a fallback, but in retrospect, none of these people were involved in the industry. So I’m glad I still decided to give it a go. 

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Besides making music, what have you done to get to where you are? 

I think for me it’s less about what I’ve done, but more about what I’ve learned. I decided at University that I would treat everything I came across as a learning experience and that my goal would be to work very hard and to get better at my craft. For example, I read in Sting’s autobiography, that to become better at songwriting he read lots of books. So when I was working my first job out of Uni in logistics, I took my lunch break and read, and then read at night and the difference was amazing. I guess I realised very early on that many things were out of my control. But what I could control was how much work I put into developing as a musician, a singer, and a songwriter. This has been key for me. 

How do you approach developing timelines for your career? 

To be perfectly honest, in the past, I haven’t developed timelines for my career. When things started to move forward with Boy & Bear, we all felt so fortunate to just be doing what we were doing that we just worked hard, some years playing up to 180 shows in the year. Maybe it would have been better for our sanity and health if we had developed clear timelines early on. I think there are clearer timelines now, but that’s a reflection of our new management educating us on the benefit of such things. 

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What is the most significant challenge you have conquered in your career? 

I think the most significant challenge we’ve encountered in our career has been keeping the band a tight-knit team through hard times. From Dave’s health to difficulties with industry relationships, maintaining our integrity, and truly respecting each other and anyone else we’re in contact with has been key. The image of a rockstar is someone that does whatever they want without any consideration for others. I don’t know why this is held up as something aspirational, but I’m very thankful that Boy & Bear has been the antithesis of this. 

What’s your advice on staying professionally active during COVID times? 

I think mental health is key during COVID times. I think if possible that means staying physically active. Exercise. Keeping the mind active. I think if we can do this it can lead to really great things. We have the opportunity during this time to further improve our craft. As a band, we are writing another album. As a solo artist, I’m putting the finishing touches on my third album and I’ve started writing a fourth. I think there is no denying that it’s a horrible situation, but I think it’s so important to use this time and make it count. Whatever it is that you do, this is an opportunity to get better at it. If there are parts of what you do that you could improve, then now is the time to do that. That could be anything from your interaction on social media, your understanding of the finances that surround what you do, or it could be just getting better at what you do (for me songwriting, singing and playing music). 

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How should people educate themselves on current industry issues? 

We can read articles, forums, and blogs to try and further our understanding of the current industry issues, and restrictions enforced by the Government. This info is readily available, although it changes rapidly from week to week. I’m constantly looking at what other acts are doing to see what’s possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either. One of the side effects of the COVID situation is that people are more willing to help because there is an understanding that we’re all suffering through this. This is especially true for our industry. 

How have you integrated modern technology into your content process?

 

I guess most people would answer this question the same way to a degree. Zoom has been a pretty amazing thing. It really has allowed us to remain connected when we can’t be together physically. Parts of our promo for our latest release was recorded on Zoom and I’ve seen people do live performances etc. in this way. The sending and receiving of audio files has also been great to continue the creation of new music. We’ve been working on the demos for the new Boy & Bear album in this way and I’ve been doing session work for other people too from home. This has been a lot of fun. 

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