An Interview with Vancouver Sleep Clinic’s Tim Bettinson

Brisbane, Australia's Vancouver Sleep Clinic have sure come a far way since their debut EP was released in late 2013. Collapse was created in the bedroom of then-17 year old Tim Bettinson, though not every artist his age is able to successfully harness the distinctive qualities of such artists as Bon Iver. When I first discovered VSC following the release of Collapse, that was my immediate comparison. This young Aussie became my go-to artist for a more deep, atmospheric, experience than I had been getting with the music of Bon Iver. April 2016 marked the long-anticipated release of Vancouver Sleep Clinic's first LP, Revival, and they are geared up to stop through Chicago this month. We were able to speak with Tim about his the release, the upcoming tour, his songwriting process, and much more. It’s been a few years since your first debut release Collapse, how does it feel to finally have this new project out in the world? Definitely a relieving moment when you work on something for that long. I’m obviously super excited to have it out and be on tour now, but there were even points in writing where I wasn’t sure it would see the light of day. So in the end it’s relieving and exciting more than anything. Most fans know that your name quite literally comes from the idea that your music is great to fall asleep to. How would you say this second collection has distinguished and/or grown off of that? I think it’s just more dynamically diverse than the first one, and that’s as a result of more budget and more time. We were able to do more of the things I wanted to do with the record like strings, choir, live drums, trumpets, etc. I think that it’s more encompassing and more sonically diverse, and we were able to draw from more of the things that I wasn’t able to do before when I recorded Collapse in a bedroom with just a lot of plugins and cheap instruments. What’s your songwriting process like? I started writing for it straight after the first EP when I was 17. Most of the songs start really organically to me off of my piano or guitar, and I really grew from there in my small studio in my parents house that I work out of a lot. It started as something with those organic instruments that I’ve always played and tried to create an atmosphere around it. This time around, we took that to a studio with producer Al Shux which was amazing and when the record really started to take shape. That phase was where all of those extra sounds and textures came from. It all started from the same place, and these songs were all written at different points in my journey over two or three years. It encompasses a lot of different phases and processes that are expressed in all the songs. Album artwork for Revival, designed by: Panda Gunda Please tell us about the fantastic visuals that you’ve used for both your cover artwork and videos, both in full form as well as the Instagram/social teasers. It was super important to me because I’ve always been a very visual person. Even when I’m making music, I’m creating this atmosphere in my mind of the artwork and pictures that would work alongside that music. I just feel it's so important to find and create artwork that is completely taking over all of the senses. For Revival, we met with this creative company called Maven who’s been amazing, and they have access to such amazing artists. Mostly this guy called “Panda Gunda“ created all of the art pieces for the videos and artwork for this album. From his first draft, I remember strait away thinking that this was the right fit. It was a very natural process and exactly how I always dreamed of it being. I would argue that many alternative music listeners in the states have a pretty limited scope of Australian music, partially due to the figure that Kevin Parker and Tame Impala have become through the large festivals. I don’t think it’s purposefully limited that way, but coming from an Australian that’s not a psych rock musician, what do you like about your local music scene at the moment? There’s a lot of really cool stuff coming out of Australia. We have a good radio culture that supports local music. One takes bands from high school and puts them on national radio, which represents the great community of grassroots that is really coming alive. That’s what really helped acts like Tame Impala, Temper Trap, and so on. There’s a lot of diversity as well; electronic music, psychedelic, rock, and for us it’s really exciting to see what else comes out of Australia in the next few years.


Vancouver Sleep Clinic will be making their first ever visit to Chicago on this coming Friday, May 19th at Subterranean. We'd recommend catching it now, because you never know what venue they will be in next time they come to the Windy City!
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Matt Brooks