Augustine on Tom Delonge, David Bowie, and His New Single "Guts" [Q&A]
In today's music landscape it's incredibly hard to sift through all of the different music that comes out on a daily basis. In fact, it's even more difficult to find an artist that truly sticks out in the crowd. I can't even begin to imagine how hard it is for the artists, especially if you're, oh I don't know, a producer and songwriter from a small town in Sweden trying to infiltrate the ears of listeners in the US.
Alas, queue Augustine. This David Bowie loving, synth-heavy, bedroom pop rockstar is a dream for the ears of any indie-pop lover. But, you don't have to be a fan of the popularizing indie sound to hear the potential in Augustine's music. We were lucky enough to conduct an interview and sit down with this emerging star on his first trip to make music in the States.
OTW: Bring us back to the beginning. How did you get started?
Augustine: My parents always played a lot of music when I was young. On Sundays, our cleaning day, they'd play David Bowie, which came from my Dad, and Mom played a lot of ABBA on the stereo. I have two older brothers as well, and they play the drums and guitar. They would teach me their instruments. But for some reason, I always wanted to sing... Then I just took up the drums and guitar, then I also wanted to produce as well. I just tried out different things. I never really liked playing other people's songs. I always just wanted to do my own riffs on the guitar or whatever. I found that to be far more fun.
OTW: How did growing up in Sweden influence your music? How were you able to market it to American culture?
Augustine: That's a good question. I always listened to more international music than Swedish music. I love the indie-pop vibe. Foster the People was always a big influence when starting this indie-pop sound. Growing up in Sweden, I think, has influenced me in a way where I had a lot of time to really grow and opportunity to really develop. I went to a school that is solely focused on music production and songwriting.
OTW: I know you sort of touched base on this, but who were some of the bigger artists you looked up to?
Augustine: I think maybe David Bowie was the first, but then it developed. I had a small section of life where I was obsessed with Tom DeLonge from Blink-182. I would watch YouTube videos of him being funny on stage, so he was a really big idol for quite some time.
OTW: Then are you also really into UFO's and aliens, too?
Augustine: Hahaha no no, not that part! Yeah, he's really going for it with those things. But, I had Mark Foster posters in my bedroom. So those were the more modern artists. Axl Rose was one, too. I just like the weird guys. I seem to be drawn to them.
OTW: When did you write your first song? What age? How did you go about it? What was it about? Tell us everything!
Augustine: There's a Guns n' Roses song, "Welcome to the Jungle." I remember taking that song and writing my own lyrics to it. It was like, "Hey you are in MY jungle," or something really, really weird. But, that is when I was very small. Then my brother wrote a guitar riff to that melody, but I don't think you can really call it a song.
OTW: But that was a first step!
Augustine: First step, yeah. I remember producing my first song at 15, and my friends and stuff really liking it. It was like this pop song. I realized I had some form of songwriting in me.
OTW: Did you ever have any formal vocal training?
Augustine: It was all-natural really. I'm thinking about taking lessons now, because I'm afraid of doing it wrong, but I've never really had lessons for instruments, except from my brothers.
OTW: Tell us about your writing and production process in the studio. What's it like being in the studio with Augustine?
Augustine: It depends... I think it's really like low energy in the studio. I don't really like get hyped up, even if the song is really good. I sit there and really overthink every line or every melody. So, I think I'm pretty boring to be in a studio with actually (laughter). When I sit by myself, it's just with earphones laying down. Yeah, but it depends. This trip now is the first time I've entered the studio and started from scratch, so that's a new experience.
OTW: What's that like?
Augustine: It's hard, I think. Especially with new people and stuff. It's like the speed dating thing, you have to get the best out of five hours. But even if it's like a chorus, a verse or a beat, we can at least take it home to develop there. I'm learning a lot from this trip.
OTW: What's been the biggest cultural difference between Sweden and the US?
Augustine: I guess it feels like everyone here is a bit more, like, a character. Maybe because it's not my native language.
OTW: You can see personality right away?
Augustine: Yeah! That's what I feel, like people are very open.
OTW: Tell us a little bit about your new song, "Guts"
Augustine: It's the most energetic song so far. The most danceable song. It's about a hangover with someone you adore. I always imagine this honeymoon feeling for some reason. The lyrics are also a way to tell myself to shut up when I start feeling sorry for myself. I'm very privileged to live this life. Instead, I can complain about so many things. There's kind of an ironic twist in the lyrics.
OTW: Where do you see your music progressing?
Augustine: I've been listening to a lot of electronic music lately. Just instrumental ten-minute songs with just like a beat. That's not where the music is going to, but it might be an influence. Also, with the live show, we've realized it's a lot more fun to play something with a good beat, like a strong pulse. So, this new song that's coming out soon is a lot more energetic. But, at the same time, I feel like I want to create more sad songs. I don't know really, we'll just see where it goes!