Artist to Watch – Way Zen

Located in the university town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, psych rock multi-instrumentalist Tim Knowlton, aka, Way Zen, weaves wailing lo-fi guitars, swishing, hip-hop influenced rhythms and percussion, various samples and his well-honed vocal style on the intoxicating title track of his new album, Relics of the Heart.

“The album puts the contours of the human heart in sharp relief,” Knowlton says, “illuminating the heartbreaks and ego of a love-obsessed individual.”

The second standout track is the poignant, “I’ve Got Reasons to Never Stay The Same.” Knowlton is one of the rare ‘one-man band’ musicians that stands out from the never-ending flow of one-man bands these days. This track is just more evidence of that, as is the album itself.

But Knowlton is not the ordinary bedroom musician; he is a Berklee College of Music graduate, engineer, and trained musician since he was in his teens.

And while it’s true that most DIY musicians, or one-man bands, or ‘bedroom musicians,’ whichever phrase works in whatever context, do not have the luxury of having gone to perhaps the best music college in the U.S., it’s ultimately what grads do with that education that matters. On Relics of the Heart, Knowlton has proven that he was not wasting his time at Berklee, both as a musician and an engineer in training.

His musical influences are many and include Kevin Parker (Tame Impala), Ruban Nielson (Unknown Mortal Orchestra) and Elliott Smith, “particularly how they wrote for and played every instrument on their records,” he adds. Some of his favorite bands include Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Wilco, and The Velvet Underground.

Knowlton has recently decided to take a hiatus from recording in order to build sustainable strawbale homes in Utah as part of an effort to help folks there adapt to climate change. After this volunteer project out west, Knowlton says he will begin recording his second album.

Free MP3: “Relics of the Heart“Way Zen from Relics of the Heart

Bonus Track: “Ive Got Reasons to Never Stay the Same“Way Zen from Relics of the Heart


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