Tim Schumack is a Detroit-based musician, actor and dancer who just released his debut EP, I See Clear Skies. His myriad of talents have been already been recognized within a tight-knit group of movers and shakers in the city. In addition to his latest music endeavors, he works closely with the brand Detroit Is The New Black, starred in the latest short film by fashion designer Tracy Reese shot in Detroit, and included in the editorial of SS16 issue of Grand Circus Magazine. Schumack was recently recruited to participate in Concept56, a Jägermeister initiative that curates five talented creatives to design and produce the event of a lifetime in Detroit.

PLAYGROUND DETROIT is pleased to partner with Kit & Ace for a special intimate performance and celebration of his debut solo music project. According to ASSEMBLE Sound, “In a city that isn’t necessarily known for it’s pop scene, Schumack joins a class of emerging Detroit artists who don’t seem to care. He delivers four piano driven ballads that are more emotionally raw and genuine then anything we’re used to getting from our current pop milieu that, per usual, tends towards an obsession with being cool.” Read on to learn more about Tim Schumack to see why we can’t wait to see what’s next from him.

How long have you lived in Detroit?

I have lived in Detroit for nearly 25 years. Born and raised, a native. I grew up in Rosedale Park, near McNichols (6 Mile Road) and the Southfield Freeway for the majority of my childhood. My parents moved to Brightmoor while I was in high school. Recently, I have been in the Northend/Boston Edison area for the last three years.

What are your mediums of choice as an artist/musician?

Music/ Acting/ Style/Dance are the mediums of choice that interest me as an artist/musician. I have always done most of them hand-in-hand, so one doesn’t necessarily take precedent over another. They each of an ebb and flow in the rotation. I think the overall presentation or branding of these mediums are what I’m really focusing on. How do they work all work together? What does it look like to an audience or a client?

I went to school for theatre at University of Detroit Mercy with a focus in theatre and education. I’ve always have broken down theatre as “dialogue between two people”. In a broader sense, what kind of experience am I potentially creating for people? What do I want them to feel? 

Music has always been a nonstop practice. I took classical piano lessons from the age of six to sixteen years old. I was obsessed with soundtracks as a kid and would drive my mother crazy with all the ’emotional’ songs I would compose. In high school I started playing at church, always have jam sessions with friends; this was also the time I started songwriting. My parents protectively drilled into me that being a musician was not the most financially stable job.

What inspires you?

I get inspired by pizza with pineapple, personal style, smart – pop music, chellos, chocolate and thrift stores.

Who are influential artists in your life?

Personal Influential artists include Scott Joplin (pioneer of ragtime), Nina Simone (you just hear the pain and questioning in her voice while she sings) and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” (There is a short from the movie Fantasia which is my absolute favorite!) Also, Leo Tolstoy (Russian author/storyteller) and Frida Kahlo (her life and inner artist monologue speak to me).

I’m surrounded by a solid and passionate creative community and just the feeling knowing that you are supported is the best motivation to continue onward. Historically Detroit has always been home for great music. Shout out to the homies putting in the work and doing their thing.

What about your creative process have you found to be the most successful?

I’ve found that being honest is the simplest and most successful to my creative process. In the back of my mind there is a little voice that says “cut corners!” but usually cutting corners means missing out on the process. Takeaway: Embrace the bumps and unexpected.

What is the most important concept(s) or theme that your work revolves around?

I’ve tried writing sad songs, but my work naturally forms itself into a optimistic light. I take the moments of valid bitterness/hurt and construct music where the pain or confusion is highlighted but paired with a resolution to get to a better place. I’m curious how this will evolve while working on new material. I’ve been listening to a lot of British pop lately, maybe I’ll move into some angsty territory…

How does your personal style express your creative work/music?

Style is a quick representation of your individuality. In relation to my music and creative process, it is a another layer to the final presentation and experience. I think working in many facets of retail has heightened that sense.

What is the concept behind your debut album, “I See Clear Skies?”

The songs were written during different times in my life where I was questioning everything; my job, pursuit of dreams, and a ongoing relationship. For me, “I See Clear Skies” became the umbrella for the songs because despite the depths of uncertainty, I chose to believe there is always hope. That doesn’t mean that I automatically feel better and my circumstances magically change, but I’m choosing to believe there is something more than the present chaos.

I wrote most of the music in 2012-2013. I started recording in 2014 with my friend John Katona at his studio in Rochester, MI. The experience with John was a fun and interesting one. I was all about recreating the feeling and speaking in avant-garde terms like: “I need this part to swell like a blossoming flower” and John was a bit more direct. He really helped polish the songs that I had written. The hardest part of the process was attempting to maintain the original weight of emotions felt.

Have you done any collaborations?

In my creative experience, working with individuals with solid visions who are open to flexibility usually turns out well. If I could have a short list of people to collaborate with it would be: Tunde, JR JR and BevLove. My most recent and complete collaboration was with Seth Anderson from Assemble Sound, and Jax Anderson from Flint Eastwood. Seth hit me up last summer and asked me if I wanted to jump on a track he was working on. We ended writing this track called “American Dream.” I have performed it with Jax on several occasions and hope to release it this summer. Working with Jax is amazing!

What do you love about Detroit?

I love the people and the brutal honesty. We might be labeled an ‘underdog’ city to most, but I just remember the multiple contributions Detroit has made alone to the United States- and internationally. It feels good saying, ‘I’m from Detroit.’

Name a few of your favorite spots or things to do in the city.

I stumbled upon the Haute To Death dance floor at Temple Bar when I was 21 and that is probably the party I have die-hard attended. It’s my little paradise and release. (Honestly, side-note the dancefloor is where I’ve met most of this city.) Jennyoke at UFO Factory on Sunday is pretty righteous- “Dancing On My Own” is my ultimate go-to. St. Pepperoni is always where I grab a quick slice. And Detroit Clothing Circle and Savvy Gents are my guaranteed ‘hot spots’ for my wardrobe.

What are challenges as an artist in Detroit?

I wish there were more platforms for artists to share their work. There is a lot of talent running wild in this city and would be great to see something like an artist/creative agency able to promote the talent. Assemble Sound is spearheading the change, but it would be nice for other mediums to be represented like Acting, Modeling, and Film.

Describe what you imagine Detroit to be in 10 years.

I’ll be 35! I hope in 10 years we have better transportation, a re-focus on the benefits of having art and music curriculum in schools, and that people will finally understand that Detroit hasn’t gone anywhere, but forward. Always forward.

Photography credit: Andy Madeline.