4   +   6   =  

Austel has today released her latest single Dry, taken from the upcoming EP Cold Love which will be out February 12 2020. Haunting, honest, and holding nothing back, this latest track marks a huge step forward for the Devon-born, London-based dark pop artist.

Austel (John Williams Photography)

Speaking about Dry, Austel says it “depicts the torment of leaving someone you’ve given so much of yourself to; recognising that it’s the only way to truly become yourself.” More stripped back in its instrumentation than previous releases, Dry is raw and intimate, with a magical quality, carried by ethereal, gentle vocals, haunting harmonies, and honest lyrics.

After receiving high praise for her debut EP in 2018 from the likes of The Line of Best Fit, BBC Introducing, and BBC 6 Music, Dry showcases Austel’s progression and has truly heightened expectation for the upcoming EP. I recently caught up with Austel, here’s what else the artist had to say…

n-eight: Hey! How’s 2020 going for you so far?

Austel: Hey, it’s going well thanks! January’s usually a pretty slow month for me, but I feel like I have a different energy this year. 

n-eight: Good to hear it! New decade, new positive energies. So, your latest single Dry is out today (congratulations!) – how long have you had this one ready to go?

Austel: Thank you! Dry has been around for quite a long time, actually. I wrote it a few years ago following a tough breakup, at a time where I was really struggling to reclaim myself. 

We recorded it pretty quickly – it might’ve actually been the first song we finished for the new EP. I guess it’s just been waiting for the others to catch up so it can be released into the wild. 

n-eight: Dry is extremely raw and honest. You’ve said it tells the story of “the torment of leaving someone you’ve given so much of yourself to” and “recognising that’s the only way to truly become yourself”… that torment really pulls through in the song, it’s haunting. What was the writing process like for this one?

Austel: I vividly remember writing Dry while I was living in an artist warehouse in Tottenham. I was really lonely and struggling to make sense of anything. My bedroom felt at once a haven and a prison I’d made for myself. I sat at my piano and just let it out. It was a real release to let that feeling go into a song. 

The next day, my producer Adam and I met up for a few drinks before heading to the studio. I was like, “I’ve just written a really sad new song that I think might be good.” He’d been working on a new piece of software that he wanted to try out. We had a bit of a drunken jam without really thinking too much of it. The next day, we listened back to the recording and realised it was actually really cool. The granular synthesis software lifted the song into a dream-like world – detached from reality, which was exactly how I was feeling at the time. 

n-eight: The production really does add a dream-like quality (props to Adam!!). This is the third single from your upcoming EP Cold Love. How does it compare to the first two?

Austel: The first two songs – Now We’re Here and Choke – are quite punchy and confident. Dry is much more vulnerable and intimate. It lets you in a bit more. 

n-eight: So, lets talk about the upcoming EP as a whole – how has the journey to putting that together been?

Austel: A long one! But an incredibly important process – I’ve learnt a lot. From experimenting with the way I write, to trying out new ideas in the studio, to taking a few months away from it all to recalibrate and make sure it was really what I wanted to create. 

I’m so proud of it – it represents a huge journey of self-acceptance, understanding and remedy. 

n-eight: Well we can’t wait to hear the full EP! Speaking of, you’re playing a gig in London on February 12 to celebrate the EP release, how excited are you?!

Austel: I can’t wait! I love playing live, especially with my band. They’ve all been a huge part of this process and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the release. We’ve got a few new tricks up our sleeves too… so don’t miss it!

n-eight: We won’t! The Victoria is a brilliant venue, and you’ve partnered with Killing Moon and Dice – all amazing steps forward for an independent artist. Any advice for young musicians in London looking to get gigs?   

Austel: For the past six years, I’ve been meeting and fostering relationships with promoters and venues in London and other cities. I’m really glad to be teaming up again with Killing Moon for this show – they’re great!

If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend doing some research and finding out which promoters are putting on artists you like / sound similar. It’s sometimes a bit trial and error – not every show works out perfectly – but that’s part of the process. Don’t be afraid to try out open mic nights either – they’re a great way of meeting other musicians and getting in with a crowd. 

n-eight: I second the open mic suggestion, such a great community! Now, on a side note, we’re intrigued… what was the inspiration behind your artist name, Austel?

Austel: It’s based on St Austell in Cornwall. I grew up in Devon, but spent a lot of summers in Cornwall – it holds a special place in my heart. Plus it’s where the Eden Project is, which is probably one of my favourite places. 

n-eight: And how did you begin your musical career? Take us on a journey of how you’ve gotten to where you are today…   

Austel: I was really lucky to grow up in a musical household. I always loved to sing and started having piano lessons around the age of five. At school, I was in the jazz band, choir, orchestra… and forming my own bands, of course. I’d write songs constantly – it was a real escape for me. 

When I was 19, I moved to London to give music a go full-time. I was really lucky to start working almost immediately with some brilliant musicians and bands – getting loads of experience on stage and in the studio. It took a little while for me to find my own feet, but I’m grateful for the journey – I think it helped me hone in on what kind of musician I really wanted to be. 

n-eight: The experience and hard work shows. You’ve been praised highly by BBC Introducing and BBC 6 Music, and from listening to the latest single Dry, anyone can hear why! Who are your musical influences?

Austel: Thanks! 

Ah, so many – I listen to a lot of different music. For Austel, I’d say my main influences are artists like Thom Yorke / Radiohead, Bon Iver, Daughter, Nils Frahm, Jon Hopkins, Bat For Lashes, Kate Tempest, Wild Beasts, The National, Nina Simone, Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen, Eva Cassidy… I could go on and on. 

n-eight: Quite the selection! Before we wrap up, a few quick ones… Dream venue to play right now? Big, small, anywhere in between!

Austel: I’d love to play the Barbican – it’s one of my favourite venues in London. And honestly, Exeter Phoenix in my hometown. It’s one of the best stages I’ve ever played. We haven’t done a full band show there yet, definitely on the bucket list. 

n-eight: A la Desert Island Disc, which book, piece of music and luxury item would you have with you on a deserted island?

Austel: Just Kids – Patti Smith, Song To The Siren – This Mortal Coil, and my piano, of course. 

n-eight: Of course! Lovely chatting to you. Any final words of wisdom for our readers?

Austel: Be open-minded and kind. These are tough times and we need to stick together. 

n-eight: Thanks for the words and the music! Bye x

Austel: Thank you! A x

Hear Dry and the upcoming EP (and the earlier mentioned ‘tricks up their sleeves’) live by booking your FREE tickets for Austel’s EP launch on February 12 2020 here, and keep up to speed with Austel through the links below:

Website by Wisp Creative.