Profile: Tim De Cotta

Published on 7 June 2016

Musician with a cause Tim De Cotta believes in extending his work beyond his own base.

BY pamela ho

“I would say I’m a ‘musician activist’,” reflects Tim De Cotta, vocalist, bassist, songwriter, producer and director of the Getai Group, the creative arts curation agency behind events like Getai Soul and Getai Electronica. “Everything I do starts from the core of music. But seeing the bigger picture is important because if you build up the local music scene, you create more jobs for everyone.”

Promoting original Singapore content is close to his heart. Having played in cover bands for several years, De Cotta decided to focus on his own music, which entailed finding creative ways to supplement his income. Not only did he play in multiple bands — including the now-defunct SIXX, Tim De Cotta x The Warriors, TAJ, L.A.B, neoDominatrix and Kilo Habit — he also taught music and took on odd jobs.

“I’d take on freelance design work or walk friends’ dogs. Once, I even visited offices dressed as a pirate!” he reveals. “It may be small things; but it offers big lessons on taming your ego. So when you’re up on stage performing, you feel you’ve earned the right to be there.”

Life could be easier. After all, he holds a Mass Communications degree from Nanyang Technological University’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information. But a wake-up call changed everything: two weeks before his graduation, his sister was diagnosed with cervical cancer. “It became very clear to me then: if she goes, I find a job and help support her four kids. If she stays, I pursue my passion. Life is too short to waste precious time!”

She emerged unscathed and he took the plunge. De Cotta attributes his love for music to his family. “There’s always music in our home! Everyone sings or plays an instrument, even mum and dad.”

On his 17th birthday, his family bought him his first bass guitar, an instrument he fell in love with at 14 when he purchased his first Jamiroquai CD. “For the kind of music I like — funk, soul, R&B, hip-hop and jazz — the bass is star!” declares the self-taught musician who has played for artists the likes of Inch Chua, Michaela Therese and Charles Jedidiah. “I learnt to play by ear. But along the way, I took lessons from bassists Casey Subramaniam and Christy Smith, and had to unlearn all my bad habits!”

His humility and resourcefulness are inspiring; a dreamer with his feet planted firmly on the ground. “We’re all in it together,” he says. “If I can help create a bigger rice bowl for myself and others, at the end of the day, it benefits the whole Singapore music scene.”

For more on Tim De Cotta’s work, visit www.timdecottamusic.bandcamp.com.

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