Houston-based songwriter Tim Qualls is known for his delivery of Rootsy soul music that is grounded in family, heartache, and a positive outlook on life very few write about.
Influenced by legends such as Ray Charles, Jamie Cullum, and John Mayer, he is often compared to a ‘soul artist that croons on the piano.’
Fresh off the release of his vibrant new single, “Heartbeat,” Tim Qualls sweeps listeners into a frenzy of sultry vocals in a moody atmosphere of intimacy. Created during the 2020 lockdown, the vulnerable narrative depicted brings aspects of his real-life romance into play while addressing the rekindling of the flame between himself and his wife during a time of uncertainty.
There is a certain texture to the essence of “Heartbeat,” that allows the poignant lyrics to jump into a realm of untraditional love songs. The substance recognized goes far beyond traditions as the dark Pop ballad is bolstered by airy synths, tenacious guitar riffs, and indulgent falsettos gracefully cascading with the musicality emitted. Tim Qualls’ warm invitation into his personal experiences sits well in the ears of his listeners.
Bringing forth an emotional connection that ties him to his fan base in ways beyond imaginable has this song propelling into an ambiance of newfound passion. Personally describing the sonic voyage, Tim Qualls describes it as, ‘if the movie Drive were best friends with The Weeknd and The1975,’ and we have to say; he isn’t wrong.
Enlisting the talents of Houston-based musicians including Ty Robins or Robins Studio, the auditory feel that we grasp from the wistful hues of “Heartbeat,” have us hanging on to each word fervently poured into the speakers.
Congratulations on the release of “Heartbeat.” We love the atmosphere you bring to life in this piece! Was there a specific moment or story that inspired you to turn this experience into a song?
There were two moments for me for this song. The first started at bedtime while I was putting my sons to bed with my wife. As I was getting one of them ready I started singing this melody and the hook and thought “huh that’s pretty good.” So I told my wife I’d be right back and I went into my studio with my iPhone and guitar and started working out the chorus. After about 8 minutes I had the chorus down and ran back to help my wife finish putting my kids down for the night. About a week later I showed it to one of my writing partners and over zoom, we finished the song in one session. BTW, this was all during the chaos of the 2020s Covid lockdown. So, what we wrote about was the rekindling of the romance between my wife and me, which was happening because we were surrounded by each other and our kids 100% of the day. So instead of talking about the chaos, we wrote about falling in love and spending time together again. I think it turned out to be a pretty vibey pop song.
What process did you go through in order to handpick the musicians that would be featured on this record? What was that experience like?
The studio process was easy. I went in with my creative partner Ty Robins and another close producer/musician friend Ben Rothberg and said, “listen, I don’t want to overthink this song. Can you just bring over a bunch of Synths and your electric guitar and can we just produce the song from scratch?” And so I sat down at the Juno 60, and the first patch I pulled up ended up being the main synth we used. As soon as I played the progression on the synth we knew exactly where it was going. And I think it was maybe 3 late-night sessions where we finished all the parts.
You’ve mentioned a music video to accompany this song release. What can we expect in terms of the visuals?
Yes! I’m really excited about this. So I am working with my very great friend, filmmaker Justin Betancourt. We based the entire visual idea off of the 80s synth vibe from the song. So that initial synth patch I played the very first night. And when I showed it to Justin, he told me it reminded him of 3 things, the band 1975, The movie Drive, and also the Netflix series YOU. He thought it would be an edgy, moody 80s kind of video and we really just dialed in the color to match those 3 concepts. We rented this big moody industrial warehouse to shoot my performance part which had a vibe all in its own, especially using downtown Houston in the background when we were on the rooftop. Then for the acting side, we rented an arcade, which is for any guy like surreal, cause we also got to just crazy playing games. Justin also happens to work for this really amazing company that works with a bunch of influencers, and we ended up asking these two special actors Shawley Coker and Casey Cardenas to come to be in the storyline part of the video. They did amazing btw, and are an actual couple in real life, which you can see in the video. It made a big difference. Justin's wife Kirby is an amazing photographer in her own right, and she was there as well as I think 4 other filmmakers that Justin brought in to help, which really changed the vibe on set.
In terms of the messaging and themes discussed, what are you hoping that your audience takes away from “Heartbeat?"
I think songs sometimes can be overthought. I have PLENTY of those songs. This one is more about VIBE, and making your head bop a bit. This is really just a grimey, gritty, moody pop song that's a little bit sensual. If you can just get into that mindset I think the song did its job. We also sent it over to Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound to master it, and he really did an amazing job to bring the mood into a very modern pop sound that you hear anywhere on the radio. So the theme? I don't know, maybe romance, love, heart palpitations!