An undoubtedly eclectic DJ, Tim Sweeney’s Beats in Space radio show, established during his first year studying Music Technology at NYU, has been described as a “cosmic orgy.” He caught a prized internship with Steinski, and a subsequent internship with DFA has already led to mix collaborations with DFA’s Tim Goldsworthy. As well as ontinuing to host the Beats in Space show on WNYU and spinning records under the DFA umbrella, Tim was recognized by Citysearch as New York’s best Party DJ of 2006.

What was the art scene like in Baltimore when you were there?

I wasn’t really in any art scene in Baltimore. Those were high school days for me and I was all about DJing, school, girls, and basketball. After moving to New York, I heard a bit more about Baltimore’s art scene, as I think Animal Collective and a couple other bands all studied at MICA [Maryland Institute College of Art].

Did you then and do you now have many friends who are in the visual arts?

I’ve always been interested in collaborating with artists, but I can’t say I’ve had a lot of artist friends. I think most of the artists I know are somehow involved with music and also do art.

Who have you collaborated with?

I’ve worked with Alex Epton, aka XXXchange, the producer for Spank Rock, on a 7" that we made together, and he designed the sleeve that was then hand printed and put together. Alex also designed all the graphics for my website, www.beatsinspace.net.

Do you have any interest or experience in any other forms of expression?

For myself, I tend to just focus on music. I definitely appreciate other kinds of expression, but music is what can really give me that spine-tingling sensation most frequently.

Who are some of your favorite artists? Are there any who inspire you musically?

A lot of the classic modern art people are inspirations for me, such as Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Chuck Close, and newer artists such as Kevin O’Neal from RVNG, Banksy, Designers Republic. Oh, and I can’t forget Robert Crumb’s drawings.

Is there a particular record sleeve you admire, or an artist who does record sleeves that you recognize and like?

I’ve always been a big fan of the Warp and Mo’ Wax art. So Designers Republic for most of the Warp stuff and Ben Drury for the Mo’ Wax things. All of Peter Saville’s work for Factory Records is great. The Black Dice artwork is always amazing and they design that themselves.

You’re working with DFA now. Do you know who does the design for their covers, usually?

DFA 12-inches are always plain-sleeved for the US release. For some of the early 12s released in the UK, Trevor Jackson designed those sleeves. For the albums, I know Black Dice always designs their own stuff.

What makes good cover/sleeve art, and is it important?

A good cover/sleeve art is always great to have. When you go into a used record bin and look through them, it’s always the cool sleeves that get your attention. Most of the time if you like the sleeve art, you’ll like something about the record too – although, that’s not always the case...but then you can just hang the sleeve on your wall! I really just like the association that’s made between a piece of art on the sleeve and the music on the record. There’s something special about that relationship that’s getting lost with MP3s.

You’ve been DJing since around the mid-’90s. Have you noticed the whole scene evolving since then?

Yeah, I think the big thing I’ve noticed is that when I first started DJing it was all about playing vinyl. Now it seems like a lot of the people who are starting to DJ play MP3s or CDs, and a lot of other DJs have switched to Final Scratch/Serato.

So since the book is entitled A Nice Set, would you mind telling us what you think makes a nice set?

Good music, good sequencing, and playing the right music at the right time.

Tim Sweeney