THERE is a lot to digest in a song like Lost At Home…
and its messages will connect with everyone. I have been discussing the track with Austel and what it means to her. She talks about filming its video and working with producer Adam Stark; if she is looking ahead to gigs and any other songs; which albums she courts as favourites – she recommends some new artists to have a good look at.
I asked her whether a change has come into the music; whether Austel has any plans for the remainder of the year; which artists she counts as idols; how she spends her leisure time – Austel provides some sage advice for new artists.
Hi, Austel. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! It’s been good, thanks. Busy, but good! Enjoying the sun.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Austel is a new music project combining dark, moody songwriting with ethereal electronic soundscapes. I’ve been working both as a solo artist and in other bands for a few years, but the new direction in sound and songwriting for this project deserves its own platform. I started working with Adam Stark - my producer and bandmate - a couple of years ago and Austel is a combination of my singer-songwriter, Classical and Indie background with his experience as a composer and music technologist.
Lost At Home is your new single. Can you talk about its origins and story?
I wrote Lost At Home at a time when I was feeling very isolated and disconnected - from my surroundings, from other people and from myself. It’s about the uncomfortable realisation that the place you’ve tried so hard to convince yourself is where you belong is actually wrong and you’re compromising a huge part of yourself to be there.
The video interests me. Where was that filmed? What was it like to shoot?
The music video was directed by my friend, Matt Bell, who’s an incredible photographer and filmmaker. Matt followed me walking around London for two days with a camera and perfectly documented my experiences of feeling anonymous in the city.
It was a really cathartic video to make, as I retraced a lot of old footsteps and memories - visiting places I hadn’t been for a long time; making peace with unanswered questions and realising that what I’d been looking for was actually right here, within myself.
You are working with producer Adam Stark. How did you come to meet him? What does he add to the creative process?
Adam was one of the first people I met when I moved to London, which was pretty lucky! I was performing alongside his band Rumour Cubes at Glastonbury in 2013 and we quickly became friends. We started working on my music together in 2015 and it just worked really well - we totally understood each other’s ideas and share very similar influences. His background in composition, performance and music technology has added something (very) unique to the sound and sculpture of the songs.
He’s invaluable to the project; not only for crafting my songs with me and adding so many beautiful ideas to the production but, also, as a bandmate, all-round collaborator and friend.
Have you noticed a change in you as a performer and writer? Do you think Lost At Home is your most confident work so far?
It’s funny, because the sentiment of Lost At Home is the opposite of confident: in fact; a lot of these songs document a time in my life when I was feeling really insecure and rudderless. However, through the process of writing, recording and releasing them; I feel like I’ve finally found my wings and started to let go of the things that I felt were holding me back. I’ve learnt so much over the past five years - both as a musician and a person - and am very excited to continue that journey.
Is there going to be more material coming later this year?
Yes! We have a debut E.P. on the way, which will be out in July. There might also be another single coming before that. Watch this space…
When did music come into your life? What was the reason for taking it up?
As far as I’m aware (and I know this is the biggest cliché), it was always there. I honestly can’t remember not singing or not being interested in music. My parents were both musicians and music lovers - there were always records playing at home and in the car.
I learnt piano from the age of five; went to a musical theatre school and performed in my school Jazz band and choir - so it was pretty inevitable that I’d end up writing my own songs and forming bands. It’s always been a very natural part of who I am.
Which artists would you count as influences?
Eva Cassidy, Radiohead/Thom Yorke; PJ Harvey, Goldfrapp; Daughter, Bon Iver; The National, Bat for Lashes; Patti Smith, Jon Hopkins; Cocteau Twins/Elizabeth Fraser; London Grammar, Bonobo; Fever Ray, Nils Frahm; Jeff Buckley, Nina Simone; Johnny Cash, Martha Wainwright and Leonard Cohen…so many more!
Can we see you tour this year? What gigs do you have coming along?
We’ve just announced our E.P. launch show at The Finsbury, London on 23rd July! That’ll be our big show of the summer and then we’re lining a few things up for later in the year.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
We’re releasing our EP, Unfold, in July alongside the launch show, so I’d like to see that do well and for people to enjoy it! Then, we want to continue making music, playing great gigs and meeting new people…this is just the beginning. We’ve got so many ideas.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I’ve had so many brilliant memories: it’s hard to choose just one! Most of my favourite memories of music involve being on stage singing songs and having a great time with people I love. It’s the best feeling in the world.
Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
This is the hardest question ever…but I’ll say:
Eva Cassidy – Songbird; Radiohead - The Bends and Bon Iver - Bon Iver…
PJ Harvey - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree; The National - Trouble Will Find Me, Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman; Starsailor - Love Is Here, The Clash - London Calling and Elliott Smith - Either/Or are all strong contenders, too.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Stick to your gut, trust your own ideas; don’t compromise yourself or your art but, equally, don’t be scared of trying out new ideas. Surround yourself with good people who have your best interests at heart. Take a moment every now and then to zoom out, because it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come if you’re constantly looking ahead.
Don’t give up - there’s often something brilliant just around the corner; you’ve just got to keeping walking to get there.
IN THIS PHOTO: Middle Kids
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Ha. My friends and family will all tell you that I’m terrible at switching off: I’m a bit of a workaholic!
It sounds simple, but one of my absolute favourite things to do is go for a long walk and listen to a record. It’s my time to think and get a bit lost in my head. I also draw a lot, write poems; read books and go to a lot of gigs, exhibitions and brunch dates with friends.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Shortwave by Yo La Tengo - close your eyes for five minutes and escape.