The perception of Detroit as the electronic music capital of the world focuses mainly on the DJs and producers. Rightfully so. They are our sonic spokespeople. Without them there would be no need for the structure that surrounds them. There is a group of promoters, artists, tech people, agents, etc. that form it. Tim Price has helped build that foundation for decades and continues to expand the definition of what our city and electronic music culture is defined as.
Born in Saginaw, Tim’s involvement in producing events began, as it has for many, by helping out friends. “In high school, my parents had a lake house (and) I always threw parties, my friends’ bands would play. They said they wanted to play Detroit, and I said let’s make that happen.” In the late 80s, he helped book their first show at Blondies and eventually achieved their goal of playing at the penultimate rock venue in Detroit at the time, Harpos. Tim remembers picking up a copy of The Metro Times because the band he managed was listed in it, and the Belleville Three were on the cover.
In the late 80s, Tim also developed a cut and sew, stage and rock-wear clothing line called 2nd Skin Clothing. The worlds of fashion and music were fast becoming the foundation of his life and career. At the same time he was working with Merry Go Round’s Menz store DeJaiz in Grand Rapids and asked to be transferred to Chicago…“A real big city”. Luckily the only opening they had in a major metropolitan market was in Detroit. So, in 1990 Tim moved to Detroit.
Detroit’s electronic music scene started to quickly grow in the early 90s. Tim’s first exposure to it was through parties in places such as The Shelter, 1217, 1515 Broadway, The Bankle. He also found himself exploring the gay scene, as this was his period of coming out, doing the circuit of Menjos, Backstreet, Gas Station, and Heaven for afters. “You’d go home and your gut was sore from dancing for 6 hours.”
While working at the popular clothing store Incognito in Royal Oak, they would have DJs play in the front window on Saturdays and were a flyer/promo hub for the underground scene, Tim dove further into the music culture of Detroit. “The scene was very small, like a network of family.” One night he casually met Richie Hawtin while he was DJing at a party in The Shelter and that meeting would be the beginning of a whole new journey for Tim.
Eventually, Tim helped Richie Hawtin with one of his first events in The Packard Plant. He continued to work with Richie on parties. “We thought our parties were massive (when they drew just a few hundred) in venues like 1315 Broadway.” They didn’t stay small for long, Plastikman parties grew to well over 1000 and Tim found himself traveling to Europe to help produce a Detroit vision of ‘black box’ events. In 1995 Tim was invited by Richie and John Aquaviva to become the first non-music artist signed to Plus8 where he developed the PGAL clothing line as well as the Plus8 and Plastikman merchandise.
In the late 90s after Plus8 ended, Tim continued doing merchandise and events for Hawtin, M_NUS, and Hawtin’s Windsor club 13below. He continued to freelance including producing events for Carl Craig and Planet E. In 2000 Carl Craig approached Tim to help with the first Detroit Electronic Music Festival. Watching the crowds chanting for Richie at the first festival as the smoke machines bellowed, Tim realized that things had changed for the scene.
“That was the moment that you knew, wow, things have changed.”
In the early 2000s, Tim took a corporate gig for less than a year. While there he learned a lot more about marketing, events, and merchandising. He also took on working with Kevin Saunderson as studio, project, and events manager. During this time Tim found time to work with AIDS Walk Michigan (11 times), Geared For Life, MotorBall as The Vice President of Production, and much more.
In 2002 Tim continued his journey with Richie returning with a full-time position that eventually took him to Berlin in 2003, where Richie thought it was easier to establish the M_NUS office if they were in the same time zone. Tim began to make a lot of friends and soaked up the culture there. Wanting to explore other interests, in 2007 he left M_NUS. Over the next two years, he worked with Monka Kruse’s Terminal M Label and produced independent documentaries and many music videos for M_NUS. In 2009 he created the merchandise and marketing division for HandleWithCare in Berlin, which offers full manufacturing service of Vinyl, CD & DVD to more than 950 international labels, musicians, artists, film producers, and industry branches.
2012 was the year Tim decided he wanted to return stateside. He took a job in NYC until 2013 when he returned to Michigan to be with family and friends. It wasn’t long until he was back in Detroit, this time in the worlds of dance and art. He helped develop Artlab’s first dance studio in Saint John and Saint Luke United Church of Christ in Eastern Market and ran the Detroit Dance City Festival for two years. He ran Jason Reed’s Start Gallery in Harmony Park until it closed in 2016 and did marketing for Reed’s ZIPR Magazine. In 2019 he (re)launched Blossoming Artists Gallery in Midtown and continued to promote artists and produce events. He got pulled back into music, producing Tech-Troit one summer, doing visuals and set design for 2019 Movement after-parties at City Club, and much more.
“I kept getting pulled back into the music thing, which I always say I’m going to get out of, but you know you can’t get out.”
In 2017 Tim started working with Happier Campers in Corktown where he got involved with the surrounding community. It is there that he met the board for Workers Row House, a museum and community center, during the annual home and garden tour. They asked if he would be willing to curate some events, assist in marketing and social media, help restructure the organization. Last year he became their Program, Events, and Marketing Director. In his new role, he has been presenting innovative events that are inspired by his passion for film, music, art, and history.
Last August Tim was appointed to be Hamtramck Arts and Culture commission’s chairman. He has spearheaded a month of events in June commemorating Pride month while on the commissions’ board. His goal is to bring some of the diversity of the pride events he experienced while in Berlin to Hamtramck.
Over Memorial Day weekend this year, Tim is producing several events featuring documentary screenings. “Film has always been a driving force for me in art, so when I moved back to Detroit it was something I wanted to pursue more.” In conjunction with Cinema Lamont, Tuscan Electro will be screening outdoors at Workers Rowhouse on Friday. Michigan native Ty Besh’s documentary follows the flourishing Tuscan underground scene from 2016-2018. Saturday they will be screening Sisters with Transistors. Narrated by Laurie Anderson, the film showcases the music of and rare interviews with female electronic pioneers. Then on Sunday at The Detroit Historical Museum as part of the ‘Celebrating 20 Years of the Electronic Music Festival in Detroit’ exhibition, which Tim curated with Rita Sayegh, Stacey Hotwaxx Hale will be playing, and there will be a screening of The Drive Home following a panel discussion with Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson, and Sam Fotias, moderated by Chris Campbell.
Through his worldwide, dizzying journey Tim Price shows us everyday that you can do life your way if you are brave enough to step out and take chances. Tim’s life of sacrifice and dedication continues to make experiences great for all of us on a regular basis. We can all learn from him.
* David Lee Roth, whose stage name was ‘Diamond Dave’ while playing for Red Ball Jet, was one of Tim’s favorite artists growing up. Tim named his first production company Diamond Tim Productions.