Folk

Austel – Interview

Tuesday 17th April 2018

Having spent the majority of her time dedicating herself to music, Annie Rew Shaw learnt to play piano from the age of 5 and is also classically trained.  She was part of a jazz band at school and also spent time as part of a musical theatre group. Instead of going to University, Annie decided to move to London to continue to pursue her musical career further.  She has since gone on to perform at Glastonbury Festival and support artists such as Fleet Foxes and Rumour Cubes, to name a few. Now, working under her alias as Austel, sees Annie release her debut single “Crows”, a beautiful expressive track, which relates to the anxiety felt within the unknown.

Could you tell me a little bit about yourself? How did you become a singer/songwriter, and what made you decided to make a career out of music?

I started learning the piano when I was five and was classically trained in both piano and singing. Music has always been a huge part of my life – my parents are both musicians and it was a huge part of my childhood. I was in my school jazz band and went to a musical theatre group for years, so grew up on quite a healthy mix of genres. I always wrote little songs and poems growing up, but started thinking about them more seriously when I was around 12. I had quite a tough time at school and songwriting was a real release – a way to gather my thoughts and find my own way. I loved acting and writing at school, but music always had that extra pull for me. It’s always felt like a very natural part of who I am, and in that way I guess it was an inevitable path. Instead of going to university, I decided to move to London and make a go of it, and I’ve been here ever since! It’s not always easy finding the balance between making music and making rent, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.

How would you describe your music, and where do you take your inspiration from when writing your songs?

For most of my life, I’ve written songs on the piano or guitar, so they’ve often had that singer-songwriter, folky feel. However, in more recent years I’ve started to experiment with more electronic soundscapes and writing from bass lines and beats. So I think Austel is a real mixture of that – classic songwriting with dark, electro-pop vibes. I take a lot of inspiration from human emotion and relationships – not just those with people, but with ourselves and the world. I’ve always been quite a sensitive, empathetic person; I soak up a lot of what goes on around me. I also get really inspired by books, TV shows, art – anything that evokes a story or strong sense of relatability.

You released your single “Crows” a couple of weeks ago. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

It’s been amazing to release my own music after years of working on the sound and trying to find the right home for my songs. There’s been a great response to the single so far – some really lovely reviews in the press, which is nice to see. It feels great to get the ball rolling.

What’s the story behind the song?

I wrote ‘Crows’ with Adam Stark (my producer and bandmate) at the end of 2016, which was a year where I’d had to make some big personal decisions and change a lot of things in my life. The song felt like a new beginning; not for the project but also a mindset – that I could let go of the things that were holding me back.

There are only 5 lines to the song, which are repeated throughout. Was that intentional?

It’s designed to be a kind of mantra; ‘I don’t have to go where you go / I don’t have to speak when you don’t’ was a reminder to myself to seek inner strength and follow my own gut, rather than constantly seeking the validation of others.

The accompanying video is simple and effective, and works really well with the song. Who did you work with to create the video, and how did it feel seeing it finished?

Thank you! It was directed by my friend Dominique Croshaw, who’s a brilliant visual artist in her own right. We made it together in Kingston last year and it felt great to release it alongside the single. The video’s designed to represent the notion that sometimes you have to fall apart to put yourself back together again in the right way. It’s a continuous journey and about finding peace with the different parts of yourself.

Are you looking to release an EP or album in the near future?

Yep, there’s an EP on the way this summer! It’s called Unfold – I can’t wait to share it with you.

You have quite a background supporting other artists. Could you tell me more about your experiences and who you’ve enjoyed working with?

I moved to London a few days after my 19th birthday, only knowing two people in the city. That year, I played Glastonbury Festival as part of a project formed by Sam Duckworth (Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly), and it was through that that I met an amazing group of musicians (including Adam and Terry who both perform in Austel) and my other collaborations have all stemmed from there. I’ve had some amazing experiences – supporting Fleet Foxes last year with Lyla Foy, touring the UK with Rumour Cubes and Munro Fox, performing gigs of all shapes and sizes across the city. I love all of the projects I’ve been part of. They’ve helped me grow so much as a musician and a human being, and introduced me to some of my best friends.

What do you get up to when you’re not writing or performing, are there any particular hobbies that you enjoy?

I love writing and drawing – they’re both also pretty important creative outlets for me. Long walks listening to records. Reading. Art exhibitions, museums, gigs, theatre shows. Brunch. Can brunch be a hobby?

What’s your ultimate aim and where do you hope your music will take you?

I think my ultimate aim is to create music that makes people feel less alone. To create some sort of relatability – a connection. That’s what I personally love about it; how songs can lift you up out of the darkest places, wrap themselves around you or help you tap into feelings you can’t make sense of. In terms of where I hope music will take me, I would love to be able to travel and see more of the world. Meet more people, create amazing memories. Making music with people I love is the best thing for me and I’m very grateful to be able to do so.

Connect with Austel via her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Second Hand Poet – Interview

Wednesday 28th March 2018

Opening up an email late one evening, and listening to the Second Hand Poet came at the perfect time, as I found myself trying to wind down, but wanting to give my emails that one last check. Listening to the mellow and soothing sounds, I found myself instantly unwinding, yet captivated by what I was hearing. The new mini album “Songs For The Pyre” is a collection of songs that have featured on various long vanished demo EP’s, its the mark of Jamie at his most unguarded and brutally honest. On an album which pulls in two directions, from the classical violin and string clad intro and interlude, to the more traditional acoustic guitar-led balladeering. Produced by Franc Cinelli and recorded in London over a two week period, “Songs For The Pyre” uses Jamie’s DIY ethic as a point of departure, adventurously expanding the sonic palette while retaining every bit of its heart and soul.

Hello! Please could you tell me about yourself, how is all started and at what point you decided to make a career out of music?

Hi! I’m Jamie I play folk music under the moniker Second Hand Poet, I began playing music around six years ago and initially formed a band which didn’t work out, when I say didn’t work out we fizzled out before our first booked show! I then went on to play the show by myself, that show scared me into playing alone I think!

Your debut album “Songs For The Pyre” has just been released. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

The response has been very positive! Which is always nice, the record is still in the early stages of promotion so I’m hoping the response stays the same!

How did you find the process of putting the album together, and did you face any hurdles that you had to overcome?

The album has been a very long journey, especially from when the songs were initially written. The first version of ‘Songs For The Pyre’  was actually called ‘Into The Wild’, and was all recorded by myself! I put way too much time into the record and I decided to step back and let it breathe a little bit, which ended up me deciding to re-record the whole thing with a producer in charge rather than myself! Also, a few of the tracks were previously on another EP, which was put out a few years ago on a label, I had to buy back the rights myself to be able to include them on the album, that was definitely a hurdle!

What about the final track listing, were there any tracks that didn’t make the cut?

Definitely yes, I think its a positive and healthy decision being able to ditch something you’re not quite feeling creative wise. A lot of people including myself hang on to works even if they deep down know they probably should have been put to bed a fair while back! Like I said above, the album previously was something very different and the songs I scrapped just didn’t fit as well on the new sound of ‘Songs For The Pyre’.

How do you feel you have developed as an artists since your previous release, and why is now the right time to release your album?

I feel I’ve developed a huge amount from when I first started this, you definitely need to learn from mistakes to get something your proud of in this musical world, for sure. Unless you have someone that’s already gone through it all who happens to be guiding you! I think I was easily entertained with releasing demos and deciding they were good enough for a few years, I wanted to show a bit of love to the songs that appeared on various past demo ep’s by aligning them on a record! The next album will be more thought out… he says.

Who are your biggest influences and how do you draw upon your inspirations when writing and performing?

I’d say the biggest influence was going to live shows at a young age, it’s really easy to get drawn in to the musical world, but really hard to actually be in it. Obviously what I’m listening to during the writing stages sometimes strays in here and there. I’m a huge fan of Elliott Smith and sometimes when I’m winding down from a writing session he’s usually able to make me pick up the guitar again.

Being in the early stages of your music career how are you finding the process, and what was the decision behind wanting self-promote your new album?

The process is hard, there’s so many musicians and so so many platforms readily available. If anything it’s too much. If you don’t have a label to work with, you then have to use the same routine but by yourself, do you hire in a PR company, and if you do hire a PR company do you then use a tour booking agency? I’m a bit tired of seeing other artists use these companies, it just sugar coats your music and presence when in reality the moment they stop getting paid, the campaign for your record does too. I’m trying a more natural approach to promotion at the moment by not only contacting lovely people like yourselves, but also individually the people who actually follow and like my music!

You’ve picked up quite a lot of momentum from the start and performed at quite a few festivals too. What’s been your best live performance to date, and have there been any memorable moments?

Thanks! It’s always nice to play festivals and have promoters who you can call on although sometimes I find festivals a bit detached from the crowd. It’s usually day time with not much atmosphere! For the more sombre music that is… My favorite shows are the ones that are dead quiet! When it’s just you playing your songs to an audience that are completely immersed in those thirty or so minutes.

What are your plans for the year ahead, and what live dates do you currently have lined up?

I’ll be trying to get the album out to as many people as possible still, and also booking in a few live sessions, maybe a single release also! I tend to shy away from playing live as much as I used to, it started to feel like bit of a chore! It’s lovely getting a reaction from people don’t get me wrong, but more times than not if you play too much the excitement tends to disappear. And its lonely playing on your own! There probably will be a few shows this year, and when they do you’ll know I’ve thought long and hard about playing them or not!

Finally, if you were given the opportunity to perform in the BBC Live Lounge, which song would you cover and why?

I think I’d choose a classic, maybe Roy Orbison’s ‘You Got It’ or Slade’s ‘Everyday’, I’m yet to hear them covered in the Live Lounge, but they should be for sure! BBC give me a call?

Connect with Second Hand Poet via his Website, Facebook and Twitter.