In Conversation with Timmy Regisford

Jan 2023

On Sunday, January 15th, Coloring Lessons returns to Nowadays with NYC legend Timmy Regisford. Timmy is simply put, one of the greatest legends of dance music. Since 1991, the inception of his internationally acclaimed Club Shelter parties in NYC helped pioneer the soulful house sound, that has shaped the face of house music today. 


We sat down with Timmy for a biref conversation about his beloved Shelter party, ahead of Sunday’s Coloring Lessons party, on January 15th.

Coloring Lessons: Hey Timmy! Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to briefly chat with us. How are you?

Timmy Regisford: I’m cool. Doing well, thanks.

CL: Since we’re a bit limited on timing, let’s keep part one of this interview short. What was your first job in the music industry?

TR: I worked for the WBLS radio station for 5 years as a mixer and also as the music director at the station.

CL: What were the early days of Shelter like? Do you remember the first party?

TR: Actually, I really can’t remember the first party. All I know is that at the time I was able to have my own club. When you have your own space you don’t have to hear shit from anyone about what to do or how to do it.

CL: Can you speak to the importance of having your own space for your party? Did you run into any roadblocks early on that made you decide to operate your own venue?

TR: Listen guys, there’s always roadblocks.  Being black in New York City, there were triple roadblocks! It’s certainly not an easy thing to do, but when you know what you have, you have to take that chance and see what’s possible.

CL: Some would say it’s worth the risk. In those early days during the party, you were also putting out a number of remixes of classic R&B records. Where did the idea to do that stem from?

TR: So back in the late 90’s, most of our so called house music, the style we knew and loved was gone. At that time, everyone was producing tracks, but no one wrote songs. There were not enough songs being made for the underground club scene.

I decided to takes the R&B songs and remix them so we get to hear the vocals that we know and love in my club…

CL: …and that style really took off in house music and was quickly adopted by the other Shelter DJs as well as the crowd. Can you speak a bit to the Shelter crowd? What did you do in the early days of throwing the party that informed the way the crowd acted in the space? Were there any rules / guidelines similar to what we see in clubs today?

Well, it’s hard because you can’t compare the two. We’re talking about two very different times. I will say in the past, people came out for the music and only the music. Today, it’s much different and things move so much faster.

CL: We wanted to congratulate you on the opening of the new Shelter space on Meadow Street! You have a long history of owning and managing clubs in NYC, which isn’t typical of DJs. Did you feel like that was essential to throwing parties and if so, why?

TR: I just didn’t want to work for anyone. I wanted to choose when to start and stop the music, have control of my own sound and lights, and everything in between.

CL: To take a step back from Shelter, you yourself are a world class DJ, and yet you seem to play primarily in NYC. Is there a reason why you prefer to play here at home when you can play anywhere else in the world? Do you ever have the desire to bring Shelter abroad?

TR: Well most places today give DJs a 2 hour set time, and sometimes even less. Nothing about a two hour set time is good in any way. The problem is that DJs started accepting that, so now it’s the new normal, as opposed to when DJs used to play all night long. I don’t get really into the flow until like an hour in, so playing for 2 hours just doesn’t work for me.

CL: Let’s switch gears and talk a bit about your music. How did your experience as an A&R help you start Shelter Records?

TR: That’s simple. I made money to do it myself.

CL: You collaborated with Boyd Jarvis back in the mid 80’s. The two of you had a release on Next Plateau Records Inc. and could be heard playing on WBLS together. What was the relationship like between the two of you?

TR: It was great. Boyd and I actually started together in my bedroom, before we were even in a studio. I was mixing and he was playing the keyboards.

CL: Another collaboration we really enjoy is South African vocalist, Toshi. She has made an appearance on numerous projects of yours. How did that relationship come about? Do you two have any projects in the pipeline?

TR: I heard her voice and was blown away. After that, I went out and tracked her down in South Africa. We developed a good relationship and started working together on a lot of my stuff. She’s on my new album.

CL: Thanks again for chatting with us Timmy! Are there any other upcoming projects or events that you’d like to mention?

TR: Yes! Shelter 32 anniversary is coming in on March 10! Maybe you guys should come and join us? In any event, keep up the good work. I heard you guys at 718 Sessions a while back and it was really good.

CL:  Thanks loads Timmy and thank you for taking the time to briefly chat with us. We’ll see you Sunday!

RSVP to Sunday’s party below. We’ll see you then ;)

On Sunday, January 15th, musclecars presents…

Coloring Lessons With Special Guest Timmy Regisford

5PM | Nowadays


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