Interview: Tim Atlas Talks New EP 'Matinee'

Written by Marissa Koh

A singer, songwriter, and producer, Oakland-born and Brooklyn-based artist Tim Atlas truly does it all. Tim is no stranger to the music scene—he has been creating and releasing music since 2013 with two full length albums, three EPs, and countless singles. His newest EP, Matinee, has been the center of considerable praise and has seen significant success across streaming platforms since its release on February 23rd. We had the opportunity to chat with Tim and discuss his creative process with Matinee, his past projects, and some new ones on the horizon. 

Marissa: Firstly, I wanted to congratulate you on the release of your newest EP Matinee. I’ve listened to it multiple times over; it is some incredible work. I was wondering if you could share/speak to your inspiration for the EP—what vibe, aura, or vision (if any in particular) did you have for this project going into it? Or did it all come together on the fly during the production process?

Tim: Thank you! The vision for this EP was to put together a collection of songs that felt like anything I personally associate with the afternoon - the sun is shining, we’re skipping school and going to the movies. On lazy days, our only intention is to have zero intention, and the last thing we want is a think piece in those moments. My last EP Le Soir represented an opposite feeling, so it was nice to curate a world that felt like a mental health break.

Marissa: Prior to releasing the EP as a collective anthology, you sent “The Deceiving,” “Lifeboat,” and “Lighthouse” out into the world as singles. Was there a strategic or creative decision behind releasing those three specifically as singles? Releasing them in that specific order?

Tim: I actually played with the release cadence a lot prior to the rollout. Of course there will be a strategic approach, but creatively, it always feels like a re-introduction when you put out a record, so the deceiving was a great way to set the tone and everything else sort of followed. We’re ramping up the energy for what’s to come as well.

Marissa: As stated in the press release, “Matinee contrasts distinctly with [your] 2023 EP Le Soir” (which I was also a huge fan of, by the way). Did you envision/plan for the two projects to play off each other like that? In your own words, how would you describe the biggest stylistic difference between Matinee and Le Soir?

Tim: So I actually wrote a full length album over the course of 2 years that would end up being these two EPs (plus a few more). And when you spend so much time on one body of work, your interests begin to change and your influences fluctuate. When I wrote the album, I didn't know it would be broken up the way it was. But this was a way to creatively put something out that continued to show different sides of me as an artist. I love intricate production and sonic surprises and endless tinkering when I make music, but sometimes I just want to hear a vocal and three instruments. Le Soir was full of the energy and hustle of NYC, and Matinee feels like I’ve marinated in this place. Le Soir had distorted guitars and aggressive live percussive elements. Matinee takes me back to RnB, psychedelic soul, and funk that has always been a constant in my personal taste.

Marissa: On the topic of both EPs, the French titles come to the forefront. Do you have a history with French culture/language? What was the inspiration behind the EP titles?

Tim: Full transparency, no, I don’t. But in 2022, I was in Paris to witness a childhood friend get married. I started studying French a few months prior to prepare for the trip, and with that, I just began to surround myself with French music, French nu wave film - it just felt like a natural canvas to work off of. And simultaneously, these EPs were written in New York so I just started to become a product of my environment. The EPs are strongly influenced by both places.

Marissa: The press release also mentions your semi-recent move from Los Angeles to Brooklyn. Have you noticed any shifts in creativity at all as a result of a change in your environment? What do you love most about New York? What do you miss most about Los Angeles? 

Tim: Touched on this a bit, but absolutely! It's funny, when I go back to LA for writing trips, the songs tend to naturally have a little more California sunshine in them. And I love that part of me, but when I moved to NYC, I realized that this is a place where you can unapologetically be yourself and create whatever that means to you. So I think I started to explore more of that here. I gave myself permission to try different things and go off the rails a bit. I love NYC’s culture. I love the lifestyle. It’s fast, but accessible? I like taking trains and my mundane conversations with people in passing. Sometimes it smells terrible, but I still feel very romantic about this place. I miss my friends in LA the most. I miss taco stands. I also think there’s something to say for the level of musicianship you find in LA. The best of the best are there, and I'd be lying if I didn’t say I miss being in those spaces.

Marissa: You are known in the music space to wear many hats—branding yourself as a singer/songwriter/producer. Which did you begin with first? Which did you pick up most recently? Which “hat” do you feel most confident wearing? 

Tim: I started in the back of the stage as a drummer, moved my way to guitar player in a rock band, and eventually decided to take on a singing role for my own project. And because of that journey, I naturally began to produce for myself and other artists as well. Most recently, I came back to real non-programmed drums and some synths here and there. I have a basement in NYC, so neighbors are a bit more forgiving when it comes to banging on drums. As far as confidence, it depends on the day of the week. I love producing for other bands because it gives me a fresh perspective and fresh ears when I come back to my project. I think one does not exist without the other, but I love it.

Marissa: You have been creating for just over 10 years now, which is crazy to believe. How, if at all, would you describe your musical/creative evolution over the years? How would you best describe your starting sound versus what best describes your current sound? Are there any genres you hope to experiment with in the future?

Tim: After my first effort in 2013, I always come back to this question - will I like this in 10 years? And so my evolution has just been trying to understand who I am and staying true to that. Every musical release is just me trying to show a little bit more of myself. So I don't know if that's evolution or more just self realization and awareness. My starting sound was confused but honest. And my current sound is unapologetic and dimensional. I’d love to do it all! But I’m not sure where to go next, so I may need to live a little more life before I answer this question.

Marissa: Could you give us some insights/teasers into your upcoming projects? What can your listeners expect? What do you most want them to know? What are you most excited for?

Tim: The full length album will be released this year! We’re scheming some UK tour dates as well as North America at the moment. I’m so excited for people to just sit with these songs, live in them, and hopefully I make it to your city to play them live very soon.

Tim’s newest single, “Just A Baby,” is out now on all streaming platforms, with his well-anticipated full-length debut album, Enchanté, following suit on May 31st. 

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