Tim Baker: Elephanthaus and Real Estate
Tracks can be a dime a dozen, but in an effort to stretch beyond the average, Tim Baker introduces two new record labels to the industry. Originally from Detroit, and now a Chicago resident, he runs Elephanthaus and together with girlfriend Veronica, formed Real Estate Records.
Elephanthaus is a pure techno label Detroit style- “Hard funky beats that make you bob your head,” says Baker. The Elephant name came from a clothing label Tim started back in 1993- Elephanthaus Clothing. For about five years he designed T-shirts, hats, and pants for party kids. The Elephant name refers to a huge house he and roomates lived in in Detroit; the house was big and gray so they called it the Elephant House. They would throw massive house parties back in 1990-91–the house actually fit about 300 people; “it really rocked and was pretty popular in Detroit,” he says.
Every DJ has their story about how and where they started and Baker’s goes something like this: “I wanted a turntable for Christmas so I asked all of my relatives for one and ended up getting two. After that I went out to Radio Shack and purchased a DJ mixer and the rest is history. At first I messed around on the decks for fun until I started going to college and began doing house parties and such.” By 1987 he was playing at a club in Detroit where Jeff Mills also played a couple of nights a week. A DJ since 1985, he’s had the opportunity to play various places in the US and recently overseas at Berlin’s Tresor. Thus far, that night at Tresor has been one of his most satisfying moments yet- “I remember about a few records into my set looking up and thinking, ‘wow, I can’t believe I’m here, halfway around the world playing for these kids.'”
On a musical note, Tim admires Detroit-based record labels: Transmat, Underground Resistance, Axis, KMS, Planet E, and Metroplex as well as Dave Angel’s Rotation, DJ Hell’s Gigolo Records and work by The Advent, Laurent Garnier, and Lil’ Louis. He’s produced the first two releases on Elephanthaus. ER-01 is entitled Black Machines EP and ER-02 entitled The Detroit Transplant EP. In releasing that second EP, he felt he had to give something back to Detroit- since the city gave him so much inspiration and drive over the years. ER-03 is due out now.
Later came the start of Real Estate Records, a name always in mind if a house label was to be started. Tim and his girlfriend, a Chicago native, feel that this label should have the influences of both cities. The music on the label is House music but they’re not just settling on any one style of house music as long as it’s bumpin’! The first release was by Chicago all-time great Tyree Cooper. Without a doubt, Tyree’s been around the block a few times and then some. Another release from Tyree is scheduled to be out by October. Others include releases from new artists Phoenix (Real Estate co-owner Veronica), Fun Police, Jacq from Detroit who works with Eddie “Flashin” Fowlkes on City Boy Records, and of course, himself, Tim Baker.