New York – Twenty-one year-old Tim Bettinson, better known as Vancouver Sleep Clinic, is a young Australian singer with a penchant for dreamy melodies and hard-hitting vocals. His debut EP, Winter, was self-released in 2014, and was followed by a sold out tour of Australia and Europe, due to its success. His forthcoming full length album, titled Revival, is set to drop sometime in early 2017, and he is set to tour the United States this November, in support of it. Best New Bands spoke with Vancouver Sleep Clinic. Bettinson opened up about his strong fan connection, his eagerness to hit the road again, what can be expected from the new album, and why he’s excited to get smacked in the face.
Back in 2014 when Winter was first released, The Guardian dubbed Vancouver Sleep Clinic’s sound “indie folktronic R&B.” He laughs upon hearing this. “Yeah, I have no idea what I would call it,” he says, “but I definitely wasn’t trying to define what I was doing when I was making it.” Similarly, the process he describes in regards to recording and producing his upcoming LP was an organic one. “It kind of just ended up being an 11-track mess of genre,” he says. There is one difference he can attribute to the new album: the tracks feel more textured and layered. Drawing from a wide range of influences, he says, “it’s a much more dynamic group of songs than the EP. There’s something in the record for everyone.” That sort of progression can be heard in the two new tracks VSC has already released, “Lung” and “Killing Me To Love You.”
Something else that’s changed? The live performances. After being off the road for two years, Tim Bettinson says he’s “borderline not able to sleep” because he’s so pumped to get back out there. One thing he’s particularly looking forward to is focusing on creating bigger moments in the live performances, with the intention of giving everyone a memorable and unique experience. To achieve this, Vancouver Sleep Clinic has recruited some musicians, who also happen to be good friends of Bettinson’s from his hometown, Brisbane, to perform with him. “The image is important as well for the project because it’s not so much about…” he trails off before ditching what it’s not about, and explaining what it is: “It’s more meant to be a collective.” This vision of collaboration is not a new one for VSC – Bettinson has always been interested in having the music evolve into something bigger than himself, which is partially why he decided to perform under a moniker in the first place.
That collaborative feeling extends beyond just a band, though. Connecting with the people listening is top priority for VSC. “I mean that’s kind of like everything for me,” Bettinson says. Inspiration for his lyrics stem from personal experiences, and in that sense he writes songs for himself, but, Bettinson notes, “at the same time, it’s about the people I’m around and the people I don’t know.” The way in which someone on the other side of the world can be listening to the same song and having the same experience as you is something VSC thinks is “really awesome,” and attributes the possibility of that kind of connection to why he loves music, to begin with.
While, in the past, Vancouver Sleep Clinic’s sound has been much compared to bands like Sigur Rós and Bon Iver, his most surprising influences for Revival draw from a slew of various hip hop artists. “I’m definitely not rapping,” he says, adding, “I’m white and Australian and can’t pull that off at all.” But the beats and the flow on the other hand were drawn from listening to artists like Chance the Rapper, Vince Staples, and Kendrick Lamar. That influence can be heard in the tracks already released and certainly adds to that more dynamic sound previously mentioned.
Tim Bettinson started young as Vancouver Sleep Clinic… and he’s still young now. When asked what he’s learned thus far, Bettinson talks about what he expected in the beginning, versus the reality: “When I was fifteen or sixteen, all I could think about was getting in vans driving around with my friends and playing music.” He notes, “And it is that, it’s great fun, but it’s a lot of work that I put into it.” He loves creating the music, but Vancouver Sleep Clinic describes the behind the scenes stuff and getting all the music out as tolling, emotionally and physically. “That’s what this record is about really, kind of the whole process,” he says. When asked about what he has yet to learn, VSC isn’t naïve to the fact that the doesn’t know everything. “Obviously, I have so much to learn. I’m about to go back and tour this, and I’m sure I’m going to get smacked in the face with a lot of dumb stuff I forgot to do.” He adds, “but that’s all the fun of it. And that’s part of the thrill why I love it. It’s kind of a crash course. I’m super pumped.” His enthusiasm to get out there and meet people and bring the album to them is overwhelming. He has an awesome energy for it. “I do now. Talk to me again in like three months.”
Revival is set to be released early next year. Vancouver Sleep Clinic’s tour schedule and tickets can be found HERE. Follow Vancouver Sleep Clinic on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
She’s lived in Rome and California. Deeply nostalgic. Is interested in random thoughts and observations. Drinks coffee black. Drinks whiskey with ginger ale. Hates writing bios. Non-discriminatory about people and cupcakes.