Tim Atlas

…I just had to weigh that with how much my happiness and living a really fulfilling life was worth. I am happy.

So let’s start from the beginning, tell us a little bit about your musical background.

My first introduction to music was in church; my dad was the worship leader. I picked up the drums when I was ten. I wanted to play the saxophone, but the one we had was broken and too expensive to fix. All I needed to play the drums were sticks. I ended up playing for eight years. I picked up the guitar because I couldn’t write songs with drums. My dad taught me three chords, and then I went on the internet to learn more. From learning songs at church as a kid, I was able to understand how to compose a song—the structure. I have always liked writing. I was probably 14 or 15 when I started writing my own songs.

Do you remember the lyrics to the first song you wrote?

Yeah, I was a scene kid back then. I was really into emo, screamo, post-hardcore stuff. I think my first song went something like this: “Jealousy comes from behind eating my insides.” Oh my God that is embarrassing.

Let’s talk a little bit about the bands you were in, in the past.

I always wanted to join a band that was already doing something, but I always just ended up forming my own bands. I was in marching band and wind ensemble. I was a “band geek” for a long time. That was probably the most disciplined I have ever been.

Right after high school, I started a band called April Chase, and we did covers on YouTube and developed a following. It was cool, and it worked out really nicely, but as we got older real life got in the way. At that time I finally decided to give it a go on my own. I never thought of myself as a good singer—I was always the guy in the back writing the songs, telling the singer how things should be sung. I just decided to try doing my own thing, and some of the following from April Chase came with me. People seemed to dig it, even though my new style is entirely different.

I started making music that I could see myself listening to years from now. That was a big thing—I wanted to create music that other people like me could relate to. I wanted to make something that was true to myself, and the most honest form of art I could make. I started writing this acoustic stuff and started getting into folk music, and after releasing a few covers online, I developed a following online, and I decided to make my first record in 2013. I funded it with a Kickstarter, and I made 200% of my goal. It was really humbling and amazing to see that support come from these people around me.

What are you up to these days?

I quit my day job, and I am doing music full time now. You know that quote from The Alchemist, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” That is what life has been like these days. I feel like I am allowing the universe to conspire around me. As soon as I quit my job, I closed that door and a bunch of doors have been opening around me. It was definitely a leap of faith. I just decided I was going to go full throttle with music. I have a full-scale production studio set up and have been working on projects for several people around the Bay. It’s scary sometimes because I am not making nearly as much as I was working full-time, but I just had to weigh that with how much my happiness and living a really fulfilling life was worth. I am happy.

What is your desert island disc?

Continuum by John Mayer.


Interview and photography by Victoria Felicity

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This article originally appeared in Issue 6.5 “Dine”

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