TIM ATLAS: FROM L.A TO LONDON
18th October 2018
You know you’ve stumbled upon a great artist when their genre is hard to pinpoint – which is exactly what can be said for Mr Tim Atlas. One part funk, one part ambient, one part indie, but all parts eclectic, his sound is a captivating fusion of storytelling. Hailing from L.A but in London town for a week with the release of new single Sidestep, we caught up with the rising star!
Let’s start off with a get-to-know – can you introduce yourself with some bizarre anecdotes and facts about yourself?
When I was a child, I memorized all of Will Smith’s “Just The Two of Us” rap. I had an extensive rock collection growing up. My first singing opportunity was actually being a singer/screamer in a really bad emo/post-hardcore band you’ve never heard of.
How would you sum up your sound?
Man, it’s always hard to define this. But if I had to narrow it down, I’d say it’s centred around indie funk, drawing influence from nostalgic bands like Hall & Oates and The Cardigans.
You’ve learned a vast array of instruments along the way – what’s on your tick-list to accomplish?
I heavily rely on my ear & less on the technical theory side of things, which can sometimes be a great thing but also a limiting thing. I’d love to just learn more chord theory and production technique. There’s so much to absorb, and I just want to be a sponge for the rest of my life.
In your new song Sidestep you address social anxiety within your trademark dreamscape music – are you giving this taboo some light relief?
I think so. I took a different approach with this song lyrically. It’s not preachy about social anxiety as it is sort of complain-y. In this sense, I was very loose with the dialogue. I’d never write “I’m gonna feel so whatever” a couple years ago. But I’m in a place where I don’t like to take things too seriously and lyrics don’t have to be super deep to relate to a listener or make them feel something.
Best advantages in life to being an introvert?
I don’t think I’ve ever thought of being an introvert as a positive, though maybe I should. I always wanted to be more outgoing, but I’m coming to terms with the fact that that’s just not me. I guess one advantage would be that I’m completely fine being by myself for long periods of time. I know some people that go crazy after spending a day alone.
An early breakout was on The Voice USA in 2015, where you caught the attention of Gwen Stefani – best advice she gave to you?
“Let’s try taking the guitar off.” I was always hiding behind my guitar. It was like my safe space. But sometimes I forget that being an artist is also partially being an entertainer. To remove my guitar to try and own the stage has been huge for our live shows.
If you were judging blindly, what sort of voice would work wonders for you?
I gravitate towards textured, unique female voices. I’m not a power singer type of listener. I need to feel the PAIN from someone. Like, show me you’ve been through some shit.
Being really punny now and playing on your surname Atlas – talk us through the most life changing places you’ve visited, followed by the strangest?
Mm, good one! I visited Iceland last year. Fell in love with the earth all over again. Also fell in love with lamb hot dogs. But truly the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. On a deeper level, I visited Southeast Asia a few years ago, and it humbled me. Cambodia’s history as well as its current state made me really appreciate the fact that I get to write original music full time with all the resources at my fingertips. I’m really blessed by my circumstances. In terms of being “strange” – In some Cambodian regions, kids will capture tarantulas, pull out the poisonous parts, deep fry them whole, break the legs off and eat ‘em one by one. One may say it’s strange. I think it’s badass. I haven’t tried it, but I’m not opposed…!
You’re an L.A boy born and bred – how has this luscious location shaped your music and general vibe?
False! I’m actually from the SF Bay Area, born in Oakland & raised in the Silicon Valley. But being in California in general exposes you to so many subcultures (probably explains my schizoid music taste). I played drums in the jazz band since the 7th grade, my sister was listening to 90s RnB/slow jams in her bedroom while my Dad was directing worship songs at the church but playing Beatles or Johnny Cash records at home. Then I’d leave the house, and a group of friends would listen to punk rock while another group would be reciting all the lyrics to Tupac’s Thugz Mansion or Bone Thugs n Harmony. What I’m trying to say is that I had no shortage of musical influences growing up. But I’m glad to land in my current creative space. I can hear the unintentional California summery, sometimes stoney, vibe. We made a lot of these songs in San Diego, where the pace can be a bit slower and more relaxed, and it’s made its way into the music for sure.
What do you like to get up to when you visit London?
I honestly haven’t spent too much time here. I’m ready for some pub happy hours, maybe some rock n roll history and some studio/creative time.
Three obscure things people can expect at one of your gigs?
Jazzercise projections, matching outfits, and terrible jokes.
What are you dressing up as this Halloween?
I’m scheming for two costumes: Prince one day. And Austin Powers the next. I’m committing.
Finally, you were gifted some Superdry clothing – what did you pick out, and what do you make of the brand?
Yes, wow I’m so grateful. I picked out a couple t-shirts, some jackets, joggers and a bag. All of which is of super high quality. Sometimes I look down, and I’m wearing everything from that one haul. It’s cool to see a brand get behind artists at an emerging level. It shows that they support art they genuinely believe in, and I think that’s so cool. Aesthetically, I think there’s something for everyone at Superdry. 10/10 would recommend.
PHOTO CREDIT: Richie Green David