Interviews

An Interview With: Vancouver Sleep Clinic

This week Leo was lucky enough to catch up with Vancouver Sleep Clinic, one of Australia’s youngest and most exciting new talents. From humble bedroom beginnings, Tim Bettinson has already carved out a niche for himself in the world of chilled out Indie already inhabited by the likes of Bon Iver and SOHN. Here’s what he had to say about his music and his recent successes…

This week Leo was lucky enough to catch up with Vancouver Sleep Clinic, one of Australia’s youngest and most exciting new talents. From humble bedroom beginnings, Tim Bettinson has already carved out a niche for himself in the world of chilled out Indie already inhabited by the likes of Bon Iver and SOHN. Here’s what he had to say about his music and his recent successes…

Who are you and where do you come from?
Vancouver Sleep Clinic is an ambient project conceived around 6 months ago in a small bedroom in Brisbane, Australia.

What makes music special to you?
I think it’s one of the most incredible things on earth. The ability it has to connect with human emotion is just indescribable.

What/Who have been the biggest influences on your music?
I’m basically a huge fan of all genres of music, and in some ways all of these different styles of music have had a great effect on my musical growth. Some of my biggest influences of late though have been artists such as FKA Twigs, The XX, James Blake, The Weeknd, Mogwai, Sigur Ros & This Will Destroy You

Describe your sound in five words…
Atmospheric seeping of heart-felt emotion

Your new EP winter, resonates strongly with nuances of the likes of Bon Iver and SOHN renowned for their reclusive creative tendencies, for you how does the usual song writing process play out?
Strangely enough, I’ve been writing lyrics first lately! I want to place a huge emphasis on lyrical content because I feel like it’s so important to make sure your messages are getting through. After lyrics I’ll jam around with any guitar or piano parts I’ve been working around with – and try and put some kind of rough concept together. I’ll then go into my bedroom and demo it in a more developed context, before heading into a studio to record the final thing!

What does the future hold for Vancouver Sleep Clinic?
The next few months are shaping up to be extremely exciting!!! A lot of touring, writing, and then recording the project’s first album! Dreaming of extending our art to a lot of new cities & countries before the end of the year

What is your proudest musical achievement to date?
It’s so hard to say because everything seems so special and I still feel like the luckiest person in the world. I’ll never forgot the moment when I was in the mountains camping with some friends, a week after putting Vapour online, and getting a phone call from my best mate back home saying that he’d heard Vapour get its first ever spin on national Australian radio via Triple J. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for the whole camping trip. Everything since then has been a whirlwind and I still can’t believe what has happened/is happening!

How do you see yourself fitting into the ‘Australian’ music scene?
I’m so proud to be part of a country producing so much incredible talent! The music scene is well & truly thriving here and it’s so exciting to see everything unfold. I’m very grateful for the support the likes of Triple J & FBI Radio have been giving this project. I can’t wait to get around Australia more and reach some new cities we haven’t played yet!

This collection of songs really does have a consistently dark, emotional undertone, do you think that’s fair to say?
Absolutely – I always make sure my songs are personal and means something. If I can’t connect with them, how can I expect others to? winter is a dark mental journey following tragedy, but it resolves with hope and new beginnings. We all go through these situations and I feel so fortunate to be able to share my own train of thought through this EP.

Describe the recording process of winter in terms of instrumentation and vocals, is it totally a one-man project? How do you make that work in a live setting? 
I’d written most of the record from my bedroom before anything really happened! There is now a more expansive four-piece band in place to translate the songs into a live setting. However I don’t, and never have, seen VSC as a ‘band’ with members as such, but more of an entity that exists to provide listeners with some kind of experience. I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t want listeners to focus on the people involved. Rather, Vancouver Sleep Clinic is a sound and a story, and my only goal with this project is for people to be touched by the music.

I love the fact that you say that on your website you say ‘together let’s create something beautiful’. Do you then really see your music as something which transcends your own personal creation?
As I touched on in the previous question, I think that this project is something much bigger than myself or anyone involved. I think it has the potential to be something special and bring people together. Everyone that is supporting this is part of this, and I will always be so thankful for what is happening.

What would be your main piece of advice to young, aspiring musicians?
It feels weird giving out any sort of advice seeing as this journey is just beginning for us as well – but I would just say to keep trying new things and only commit to something if you believe in it! It’s taken me years of writing absolutely horrible music to finally start a project that I can connect with. Keep trying things!

How did Vancouver Sleep Clinic go down at SXSW?
SXSW was such an amazing experience!!! We learnt so much about how to set up & line check in 15 minutes with very average sound systems, as well as the importance of bringing your passport to domestic American flights. It was so surreal though – a couple of our shows were really packed which is crazy! Hopefully it went ok! We definitely grew a lot over the trip.

Words: Leo Bargery

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