Vancouver Sleep Clinic first emerged in 2013 with delicate songs like "Collapse." Then only 17 years old, the Brisbane singer, real name Tim Bettinson, wouldn't release his debut album until 2017, nearly two years after he had finished it. "It was a dark time for me," he tells us of the waiting process.
In the time since April 2017, Bettinson has released and toured his debut album, been embroiled in a battle with his label, written his way out of an emotional pit, and put together a vulnerable and engaging comeback EP. He spent the past twelve months fighting to get out of a recording contract, and although he was writing new music, he had no avenue to release it into the world. “I was in this purgatory space where I had all these new songs ready to go, and I couldn’t put them out,” Bettinson explains.
To commemorate his new independence and the next chapter of his career, we're debuting Vancouver Sleep Clinic’s newest single, “Closure,” which also features Drew Love of THEY. Not squarely focused on his label woes, Bettinson tell us that “[Closure], ultimately, is about not giving up on someone even though they’ve given up on you.”
Standing at the intersection of chillingly ambient and deeply emotive, the track also doubles as Bettinson’s promise to weather the storm and re-enter the music world full force. “With this song,” Bettinson attests, “it’s a statement and declaration of my intent to be here for a long time.”
Listen to "Closure" now and continue for our full interview with Vancouver Sleep Clinic below, in which we discuss his musical roots, his battle with his record label, writing music to cope with his struggles, and his upcoming EP Therapy Phase 001.
Kicking off with some background, how old are you, where are you from originally, and how old were you when you started making music?
My name’s Tim Bettinson, I’m 21, and I’m from Brisbane in Australia. I started making music when I was 17. I was procrastinating on my grade 12 assignments, and I started making tunes in my bedroom. It grew from there, so once I finished school, I spent all my time working on music.
And what about your stage name?
I had this whole list of maybe one hundred names. All of the boring ones were taken, so one day I decided to go for something ridiculous. I wanted a nice, sleepy, winter aesthetic. I put those words together, and it played off very nicely. I wanted something that would paint a good picture.
Fast forward a bit, you released your debut LP, Revival, in April 2017. What happened with your career following the debut?
We put the record out in April, and then we did a bunch of touring around that. The majority of last year, I spent making a ton of music. Basically, I was stockpiling tracks. We were playing shows and touring, but I definitely had my focus on the future.
I know that you’ve been in a long battle to get out of your label contract this year as well.
We ended up getting spat on for the entire year, which really sucked.
Ever since we put the album out, the last twelve months, we’ve been trying to get out of that deal. We ended up getting spat on for the entire year, which really sucked. It was difficult for me, because I’m a very excited person. When I’m working on things, I want to get them out to the world. I was in this purgatory space where I had all these new songs ready to go, and I couldn’t put them out and I couldn’t get dropped.
In a way, that was the spark that I needed for my songwriting. It ended up being a bit of a blessing in disguise in that respect, because that was a rough time, but I got a lot of content and experience out of that. It was a brutal twelve months, but we just got released a week or two ago, so I’m pretty excited about the future.
What made you want to get out of your deal?
The thing people probably don’t know about the album is that I wrote most of that when I was 18. We had it finished when I turned 19. It was almost a year and a half of shopping around for labels. After that, it was another nine or ten months. There’s something about that process… It was a dark time for me, because once again, I had all this music that I was excited about at the time and it couldn’t get to the world. There were a whole bunch of legal things and contract things. It was a very long and grueling process to get the music out, and that’s why I’m so pumped to be independent again.
Is making music how you coped?
It was a weird purgatory. I was really struggling to find lyrical inspiration because I wasn’t having any new life experiences. After a while, I started to notice the toll that was taking on me started to channel into new songs and new lyrics, and a new passion was invoked in me that made me want to make the most of that time. It definitely wasn’t ideal, but it ended up being the inspiration I needed for the next phase of the project.
What was the most gratifying aspect of creating your upcoming project, Therapy Phase 001?
Like the title suggests, for me, it was actual therapy making those songs. In my mind, it was getting darker every day and I was starting to lose motivation and passion. I thought about giving up on the project several times, so songs on this EP are the start of the process of me coming to terms with what was going on in my life and overcoming it. That’s the most satisfying part about having it.
Since we’re debuting “Closure,” talk to me about how your label battle and those emotions manifest on the track.
“Closure” happened when I was in LA. I suppose, at this point, I was past some of the label stuff. That song is more about relationships. There was a lot going on with me in that respect, as well. That song, ultimately, is about not giving up on someone even though they’ve given up on you. I like having it on this EP because a lot of people have given up on me and let me down, and it’s a way of me saying, in a lot of different respects, that I’m not giving up on what I love.
The whole EP is really about taking these different dark points in my life that were all happening simultaneously and trying to find some sort of powerful energy from them.
How much of “Closure” is representative of the full EP?
There’s a fair amount of topics I address on the EP. A lot of it is definitely around the relationships I was having at that time. The whole EP is really about taking these different dark points in my life that were all happening simultaneously and trying to find some sort of powerful energy from them. That’s what I would say is the overall theme.
The track also features Drew Love of THEY., how did you two connect?
Yeah! We were hanging out in his studio in LA, having a session together. The whole track happened in five hours in one night. We got in there, did our thing, and it came out real good. It’s definitely not the case with a lot of the songs I do, but this one was super natural and I love when songs come together like this.
What do you hope fans walk away with after hearing “Closure?”
I want people to really feel that I’m back and that I’m staying. Even with the album, I wasn’t very present and I wasn't very driven with it, admittedly. With this song, I think it’s a statement and declaration of my intent to be here for a long time. I’m going to keep putting out songs that I love, that I think people will relate to.