Wide Awake

An interview with Tim Bettinson of Vancouver Sleep Clinic

by Claire Brom.

Published 1.11.19

Fresh off the release of his incredible EP, Therapy Phase 02, chilled out twenty-two year old Australian singer, songwriter, and producer Tim Bettinson talks touring, brand new projects (hint, hint), Australian coffee, and more with AROUSE’s Claire Brom.

Claire: Alright, let’s do it!

Tim: Hell yeah.

C: So you’ve been touring on and off all around the world pretty much since 2013, but with everything that happened last year with your record label, reworking Therapy Phase 01, and spending time in Asia, does this tour have a new vibe to it?

Tim: Yeah, for sure. The shows we’ve been lately doing have more energy. There’s definitely a different kind of atmosphere from what we’ve done before, so it’s been fun. And we’ve been playing a more diverse range of music as well now which is cool—still some old stuff, too, but we’ve been playing some new stuff we have which has more energy. So it’s been a different kind of vibe but it’s been really fun.

C: Love it. Is there anything you miss about Australia while you’re away?

Tim:Probably just the beach, honestly. And I think there’s just something about Brisbane. At least where I’m from, it's super chill. Just hanging out and bumming around and doing nothing is kind of great every now and then especially when things are super intense and I've been working a lot. It’s so nice to come back and hang out.

C: That makes sense—if I were touring in the Midwest from Australia, I’d definitely miss the beaches, too.

Tim: Yeah, and the coffee. Brisbane coffee is, like, next level stuff.

C: [Laughs] I take it Starbucks just isn’t cutting it, then?

Tim: No... we go down out there in Brisbane, it’s happening.

C:One of the signatures of your music is that it has a really deep, spacey sound. And it’s backed up by lyrics that are just as deep. What’s your writing process like?

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Tim: It changes song to song but as of late I’ve just been trying to go back to how I originally used to record. I used to record out of my bedroom, basically just kind of procrastinating school and stuff, and recently I’ve been just trying to reconnect with that. Making more music with friends, too. It’s been a lot more jammy. I lived in L.A. for a year and when I was out there, the way songs were made was almost mathematical and systematic. They were trying to make something that was super condensed and commercial, and I wasn’t enjoying that too much because that’s not what I’m really here to do. So I’ve just been going back to having more fun with it and writing songs based on the lyrics and the atmosphere and the emotion of the song. That’s the most important part I feel—the emotion and the feeling of it. Everything else comes second: the sounds, how fresh or “cool” it is. That should all be secondary to the original feeling, and how I was feeling when I was writing it. I’ve been trying to go back to the core of that. Making music that’s super organic that starts with, you know, me on piano or guitar, and then some lyrics, and building around that.

C: Cool, sort of dropping the pretention, since there’s so much of it out there already.

Tim: Yeah of course, and that’s fine, that’s how music is made a lot of the time and it works. But for me personally, I was getting a little tired of it, so I wanted to mix it up.

C: While we’re on the subject of songwriting, your songs sort of make up a whole new category—I’ve never heard anything like them, really. Do you pull inspiration from anywhere in particular, or is it all you?

Tim: You know, I kind of just take inspiration from heaps of different things and different genres, so I think it just ends up being this weird mesh of all of that in my music. Especially when I’m recording, I try not to listen to anything similar to what I’m doing, because I get wiredand I’ll accidentally start copying it. So when I’m writing I’ll listen to a lot of alt rock or rap, just something that’s different. And I think little bits of everything come through naturally when I’m recording because I do try to listen to a variety of things.

C: What’s been on rotation lately?

Tim: I recently got into the new Travis Scott album. I listen to Stargazing a lot, I really appreciate that one. I’m super into the KIDS SEE GHOSTS album as well. I really like Reborn from that album. I mean, I like all of it. Kanye’s a big inspiration to me, I love that he kind of just does whatever he wants and makes a variety of stuff. I’m still playing the SZA album a lot, too, she’s got this crazy voice. It’s weird, people always get confused because I don’t really listen to that much music. I think it’s one of those things where I spend so much time doing something that in my down time I try to do other things. I do try to stay up to date to some extent but I’m not spending hella time listening to other stuff.

C: Yeah, I definitely get that. Everyone needs a break at some point. Speaking of KIDS SEE GHOSTS and cool collaborations, you’ve worked with a ton of other really cool artists like Zhu, Wafia, and Drew Love. Are there any collabs or tracks that you’re currently working on or excited to make in the future?

Tim: Right now not really, I’ve actually been really focused on doing my own stuff the last six months. Actually we just finished an actual full project, so I’m super pumped. I just made it with a bunch of my friends. They came in and played some instruments, we were all just hanging out over a couple months and made this album, so I’ve been super focused on that. I mean, I love collaborating, but I told my team I just want to have a few months where I focus on making the most original things I can possibly make.

C:That’s so dope! Can we expect to see that drop soon?

Tim: Yeah, I think we’re gonna start dropping stuff at the start of next year, like January.

C: Awesome, starting the new year off right.

Tim: Yeah, I’m excited, it’s kind of a new sound. And people don’t know anything about it yet because we just finished it a few days ago. You heard it here first.

Therapy Phase 02 is available for streaming on Spotify and Soundcloud. Purchase the EP on Apple Music and Amazon.