Next Tuesday (26th February) at 8pm we have the next instalment of the RCM Takeover Sessions. Tune in to the Right Chord Music Facebook page at 8pm (UK time) to watch Austel play a special live show.
Ahead of the show we caught up with Austel to understand more about her inspirations and creative process.
We assume your name comes from St Austell in Cornwall? Why did you choose a version of this name, and to what extent is the music you make a product of your environment?
It certainly does. I’m a Devon girl, but spent a lot of time in Cornwall as a child on family camping holidays. I wanted a pseudonym that had a personal element to it, whilst creating something unique.
My songwriting is definitely influenced by my surroundings – especially the stark contrast between the city and sparser landscapes I grew up in. You can feel isolated in the most crowded of places, or totally free in a desolate space.
Can you Explain your songwriting process?
Usually with a phrase / lyric that I’ve thought of on the move and scribbled down. Once that idea or notion is there, the song forms pretty simultaneously; I’ll write the music and lyrics alongside each other. I’ll record a demo on piano / synth / guitar, work on the arrangement a little more and then take it to the studio.
Having said that, I’ve recently started to experiment a lot more with different writing styles – whether that’s coming up with a drum beat or bass line first and working from there, or turning a fully-written poem into a song.
There is a very clear visual style to Austel with lots of black and white. How important is the overall look and feel to you? Can you ever imagine a time when Austel is bathed in bright colours?
I love photography and artwork, so it’s important to me to create visuals that represent the music and who I am as an artist.
I’m naturally drawn to a monochrome, moody aesthetic (my friends will testify that I have a very gothic wardrobe!) – I think it sets a tone that resonates with my songs. Things are starting to feel a little brighter though, so who knows, maybe you’ll see some blue or something creeping into future shots…
If you could pick your dream festival bill with you as headliner, who would be supporting you (dead or alive)?
Wow, tough question! And dream job. I’ve been lucky enough to see most of the following perform at festivals before, so I know they’d all be epic.
PJ Harvey, James Blake, Nils Frahm, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Patti Smith, Daughter, Bat For Lashes, Wild Beasts, Bon Iver, Fever Ray, Kate Tempest, Christine and the Queens, Thom Yorke, Maggie Rogers, Sigur Ros, Nadine Shah, The National, Jon Hopkins, Bjork, Pumarosa, Hero Fisher, Goldfrapp, Four Tet, Half Waif, Josin, Sharon Van Etten, Phoebe Bridgers, IDER, Bonobo, Massive Attack…
And I’d bring Elliott Smith, Nina Simone, Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen back from their long sleeps if I could.
What’s next for Austel this year?
I’ve got some intimate London shows coming up, and then a couple of summer festival slots in the diary – all of which I’m really looking forward to! There may or may not be some more music on the way… you’ll have to wait and see 😉
Watch back previous RCM Takeover Sessions.