Extended Stay: Lotus Hotel offers tranquil indie rock accommodations
Ann Arbor indie rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tim Everett opened the doors to his Lotus Hotel project more than a year ago and began booking a local following with four hypnotic, stirring singles filled with poetic lyrics, soulful vocals, and a sound that strives to transport people away from their everyday lives.
“I love the idea of playing with time and the idea of inviting listeners into a space where it’s completely removed from reality," Everett said. "It’s like a different dimension where you can leave yourself at the door and leave whatever worries you have elsewhere and just kind of be in that nice space with good sounds for a while."
Everett initially welcomed visitors with the release of his 2018 Lotus Hotel “grand-opening” single, “Deluded Paradise,” a laid-back, philosophical ode to understanding and learning from different viewpoints in the world. Bright guitars, fervent bass, and delicate cymbals merge beautifully with Everett’s calming vocals as he sings, “You’ll know that it’s real when something you feel tugs your wheel the right way / And wills your heart to change.”
“Thematically, the inspiration is the idea of being so convinced by your version of reality and seeing the world from your conditioned perspective that you can’t imagine another perspective,” said Everett, who plays drums, guitar, and bass on the track. “I definitely struggled with that for a while, and still do obviously, like we all have our blind spots, and I’m in this place now where it’s amusing to me when I find those blind spots.”
Everett tackles similar blind spots on his second Lotus Hotel single, “Icarus,” a soothing 2019 anthem that soars with bright, sparse guitars, crashing cymbals, and a distant chorus of trumpet by Bradley Gurwin and saxophone by Steve Ciasullo.
The track’s lyrics reflect Everett’s deep appreciation of Greek mythology and recognition of Icarus’ tragic flaw: “But hunger fills me / And as I fly under churning skies this / This hunger’s building / I cut my ties and I fantasize just to come up empty / Guess the craving’s all I’ve found.”
“There’s that side of me being lethargic and loose and not grounded," Everett said, "and then there’s this part of me that wants to fly over everything, and skip all of this, and get to the point in my life where I’m achieving everything and hitting the fast-forward button. I also know that I am not the kind of person that would be able to transport those environments from here to there and super quickly adapt."
In November, Lotus Hotel released its third psych-rock single, “Talking in Circles,” to combat internal struggles people face when they’re wedged between inadequacy and pride. The airy track features deep-tone guitars akin to Tame Impala while pounding drums, echoing harmonies, and vibrant synths fuse together beautifully.
“Talking in Circles” also showcases Everett’s growth as an emerging songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. When it comes to production and mixing, he prefers to transform clean-sounding recordings into grimy, edgy imperfections that linger in others’ minds long after the first listen.
“It’s working with those imperfections, building from them, and finding out how they can complement your style rather than fighting them the whole time. That song was really a good learning process, and I got a soft spot in my heart for it,” Everett said.
Everett developed a soft spot for music while growing up in Ann Arbor. His father taught music theory at the University of Michigan and his mother worked as a private violin teacher. Those initial musical influences led Everett to learn piano and drums as he listened to The Beatles, A Tribe Called Quest, Gorillaz, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Tame Impala, and David Bowie.
After high school, Everett attended the University of Michigan and spent considerable time learning guitar and writing songs. He later switched his major from Spanish to music and started playing bass in a local artist collective called OSSI Music. Now a University of Michigan graduate, Everett’s three Lotus Hotel singles also have been featured on OSSI Music Spotify playlists.
“With my musical journey, I look at artists that I love, and I see myself in them. Listening to different artists and understanding their perspectives has helped me understand my own perspective and discover more about how I view the world and the people around me,” said Everett, who took his artist name from the Lotus Hotel and Casino referenced in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
Everett’s latest is a ‘90s hip-hop-inspired single, “Holdin’ Out,” released on the OSSI: Volume 4 music compilation. The groovy track features deep basslines mixed with beatbox rhythms and bright guitars while Everett’s atmospheric vocals are punctuated with raps by OSSI collaborators Matthew Boutte, aka MEBO, and Matt Greaves, aka Matte Black.
“I remember lying in bed with my bass guitar, and I stumbled upon what would become the bassline for the tune. I remember it felt reminiscent of something I might hear in one of A Tribe Called Quest’s jazzier tracks, and the idea of creating something in that vein really excited me,” Everett said.
“This was an important step for me because one of the things that made me fall in love with A Tribe Called Quest was the sense of brotherhood, mutual encouragement, and friendship that is inseparable from their sound. I aspired to create something that could communicate a similar sentiment and also serve as a personal reminder of the depth of friendship that Matt, MEBO, and I have.”
Lori Stratton is an Ann Arbor-based writer and editor of strattonsetlist.com.