Blending alternative writing roots with spacious synths, Austen’s hook-laden art pop creates a sonic atmosphere that draws comparisons to contemporaries like Broods, Alison Wonderland and Flume. With two acclaimed singles and a national tour under her belt and a writing style that plays between introspective and surreal, she’s just returned from support The Kite String Tangle on tour and her new song ‘Storm’ is already turning heads.
Austen has just been announced as one of the acts at Festival 2018 as part of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. She’ll perform alongside artists such as Kate Miller-Heidke, Mau Power, Karl S Williams and the Jungle Giants. We caught up with her about the announcement.
When we spoke at the beginning of the year, you’d just released ‘Darkside’. In the six months since, it’s had 125k spotify streams. What else have you been up to during that time?
I’ve been writing a lot. Been collaborating with a bunch of different people. I’ve got a lot of things in the works and I’m working towards an EP at the moment. I’ve been steadily doing shows and went on tour with The Kite String Tangle and have a couple of more shows before the end of the year. But I’ll be dropping the EP in the first half of next year and am just finalising everything for that – writing , producing, planning everything. It’s hectic, but really cool.
You’ve just been on tour with The Kite String Tangle. How was that?
It was amazing – just actually, literally, the last day of tour, I got sick and started losing my voice, so I was like ‘please hang on for one show’ then flew home and I’ve been sick for a week. If that’s any indication, it was a really good tour (laughs). It was the best group of people I could imagine to go on tour with. They’re all really amazing at what they do. It was cool to see Danny sell out so many shows. The Corner Hotel in Melbourne sold out twice in a row.
And now you’ve been announced for Festival 2018 as part of the Commonwealth Games. How does that feel?
It’s going to be awesome and It’s really exciting. I think having my kind of music and I guess, that aspect of the Queensland music scene represented in an event like this is really special. When you think of a festival like Festival 2018, there’s a lot of theatre and different types of stuff, but you don’t think that indie pop music is gong to be a part of it – it’s cool to have that aspect happening. And it’s cool that it’s me.
What’s your connection to the Gold Coast
I spent a few years on the GC when I studied at the Con, but I actually grew up in Dalby. I played a few of my first ever shows there and went to a lot of shows there and it’s really cool to see how the music scene has really grown from like five years ago when I moved there. I can really see how far it’s come. Some of our homegrown talent like Paces and Lastlings are killing it at the moment – they’re really putting GC on the map for our kind of music.
You’ve said before that nothing connects to audiences more than a live performance. How do you take your recorded sound – which is heavily produced – and evolve that to a live show?
I think you see it a lot these days that electronic music is becoming a kind of hybrid with live elements. I think that’s cool. There was a big DJ scene back in the day but more electronic acts are bringing more and more live stuff into their shows. When I have the chance, I love playing with a band – live drum kit, keys and guitar. I think it adds so much on top of the electronic track. And it’s one thing to listen to a song on Spotify, electronic production is great for that, but having live elements to your live show brings it to the next level. For Festival 2018 I will have my full band with me.
Tell me about your new single ‘Storm’?
It’s been out for nearly a month now but written more than a year ago. It’s been through a few different versions, like stages of its life, that I’ve collabed with diff people and it just hasn’t been right. I took it to this guy James Angus – an awesome producer in Brisbane and hooked up for a session, so I was playing him a few things and I played him ‘Storm’ and it was the first session we had, so you kind of just take a bit of time to get on the same page stylistically and it just came out in like three days. And I feel like it’s a really good follow up to the stuff I’ve already released.
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Austen performs at Festival 2018, the arts and culture program of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games