If you like Toro y Moi, Unknown Mortal Orchestra or Rex Orange County then Tim Atlas is for you.
The Oakland-born now Los Angeles-based artist takes his unique brand of downtempo R&B and Neo-soul to the next level with his latest release QUOTA, which is due out July 9.
“It’s funny to sit down and ask myself what this record is about,” he said. “It represents so many phases of my life in the last year and a half, so thematically, it can feel sort of scattered and incoherent. But as I go through each of these songs, it feels like I’m chronologically revisiting those experiences and emotions I think all of us may have felt at one point or another.
“I think of all the remote writing and production sessions I had on zoom with my co-writers and musicians while I sat in my studio subconsciously avoiding the LA summer heat. I think of all the confrontation I had with myself but the yearning for normalcy. I hope throughout this dissection of QUOTA, you see some of yourselves in these songs that have meant so much to me.”
Atlas initially made waves with his debut EP, All Talk! – which propelled him on a global tour marking key shows in London, New York and Los Angeles, supporting The Magic City Hippies and Gold Room, as well as debuting his first festival appearances at The Great Escape Festival in UK and Noise Pop in San Francisco — and the follow-up effort is even more impressive.
Prior to its release, Atlas gave readers of American Songwriter a look behind the curtain of how the songs came about on a track-by-track.
This intro is grounded in a chordal bass line that the production and melodies dance around. The chopped-up samples are sounds from the mastered “Peace at Last” two-track. We wrote this one intending to set the scene for an experience with this record. Sonically, I wanted it to feel different for anyone familiar with my catalog. Like, “Hey, get ready. It’s a brand new chapter.”
“Peace at Last” (w/ honeywhip)
I wrote this with honeywhip, a band I’m so fond of. We started this session as most do – chatting about life, common interests. And while we connected on the exhaustion of tour and the feeling of being home after being on the road for so long, the song took on new meaning as it developed more and more. It comes off very positive, and while we were able to highlight that feeling in the visual, I love the dark undertones that juxtapose that positive demeanor. Sitting here listening to the song, the message that resonates with me most today is the opportunity to reinvent yourself after an experience that takes you out of your comfort zone.
This song is about how difficult it can be to ask for help when you find yourself struggling. I think the narrative around finding help & reaching out to people when you’re in a dark place can be oversimplified in many cases. I think the best thing we can do for the people we love is telling them & keep those doors open.
I’ve always been pretty introverted and to myself growing up. And the larger the crowds get, the more I tend to close that door. But even me – someone whose tolerance for social gatherings is pretty low – even I craved those human interactions when the world was on lockdown. Sonically & melodically, this was one of those songs that wrote itself in a short amount of time & probably my favorite off the record.
This last track was the first song I wrote from this EP. Courtside is a metaphor for the partner you never thought you had a chance with. The idea of someone so farfetched who ends up your reality. QUOTA represents the spectrum of experiences we endured in the last year, and with Courtside, it felt appropriate to end this record with something that felt reminiscent of my records leading up to this one.
“That about sums it up!,” Atlas added. “Thanks to those of you that made it this far. I hope that as you listen to these songs & as we return to certain ideas of normalcy, that we can look back on the last year & recognize how far we’ve come.”
If you dig what you hear, make sure to support him by getting the music!