Angus Oastler is one of the Gold Coast’s most under-rated songwriters. With an old-school charm and crossing over between roots, Americana and indie-folk, he’s just released a three-track EP which delivers a quirky pastiche to the great artists who’ve influenced him. He’s been on this trajectory since he was eleven or twelve years old, but it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
“I felt this need to consciously make up songs in my head,” he says of his childhood, “then I would remember them without necessarily writing them down… it was a bit like playtime for me.”
He says he always wanted to be front and centre (and admits to having an obsession with Elvis) but found it hard to relate to other children. He joined the school choir and then in high school the music program but when he got into bands like Nirvana and Silverchair and started writing grungier songs he felt the need to keep them to himself.
It was around that time he discovered he had ASD and Asperger’s.
“I learnt to embrace songwriting as an outlet for me and that helped me get through a lot of issues at that time,” he explained.
“I guess I’ve always been a bit conflicted with what I’d like do to musically due to my wide range of music influences. But then I got to uni I found a sound that I liked. My music collection is still growing from old jazz, blues, old time country, and new music. I continue to go to my local library for music to listen and dissect, I enjoy watching music documentaries they give me inspiration.”
“So yeah it’s an obsession.”
While Angus has released three EPs to date, he’s been flying under the radar for way too long. Pairing up with fellow Griffith student and producer Fletcher Babb (Cold Ghost) for some of his releases, Angus’ music has continued to evolve.
This new EP ‘Take Me To The Ward’ is a surprise package for a relatively unknown artist. Just three tracks in length, it’s like a taster for the mixed bag of genres Angus is experimenting with. ‘Sad Song’ is genuine and poetic and ‘Tigers Way’ is at the heavier end of the folk-rock spectrum. Title track ‘Take Me To The Ward’ shows off Angus’ songwriting ability adeptly.
“It’s the most honest song that I think I’ve written,” Angus says, “and certainly one where I am trying to tame a lot of demons.”
“A lot of it is about being held back by a debilitating anxiety that stops you from doing a lot of things, it’s not really about me necessarily but it’s close, maybe someone else can relate to it.”
The EP also clearly demonstrates the power of collaboration and the strength of connections built through endeavours like Griffith’s Bachelor of Popular Music and its SEED program. The EP sees Angus collaborate again with Fletcher Babb as well as Jake Morton (Electrik Lemonade, Napoleonic Wars), Shannon Kelly (Napoleonic Wars) and Tiarni Hope.
“Fletch is the one who organises the studio bookings and everything else being the producer, he’s really good at getting everyone in on eachother’s work because we’re so familiar with each other, especially around the SEED family,” Angus explained.
“As for living under the radar, it’s not easy, it was a matter of presenting my music in the right way and appealing to the right people,” he said.
“It’s hard for an emerging musician, it’s very hard to get noticed, there are moments when you think is it all worth it, ‘probably should start looking for a job’ but you just got to hold on to that self-belief and that need to keep doing it because if you’ve dug so far into your music, what else are you gonna do?”
“Living under the radar can be quite a drag,” he said.
Now that Angus is emerging from under that radar, he says he’s aiming to work on an album and thinking about the next lot of gigs. But he also knows to take it one step at a time.
“I think I should see how this EP goes for a while before jumping onto any major stepping stones too quickly,” he added.
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Catch Angus Oastler at Currumbin Sanctuary Markets 31 August, Sheoak Shack on 8 September and Emerald Lake Markets on 4 October and check out the brilliant EP ‘Take Me To The Ward’ at angusoastler.bandcamp.com.