Behind Austen’s debut EP is a compilation of vulnerable experiences and emotional storylines that outline her growth and reflective journey of discovery. ‘Passenger Seat’ is an impressive introductory collection that has anthemic indie-pop tracks like ‘Too High To Cry’ and ‘Money’ and the dreamy and aesthetically pleasing ‘Young And Numb’ and ‘Anthem’. 

After recently joining The Wombats lead singer Murph on the road for his debut solo shows for Love Fame Tragedy, the Brisbane singer-songwriter will be hitting the road this December for her own headline shows.

I recently chatted to Austen about the contrasting emotions behind her debut EP ‘Passenger Seat’, the inspiration behind opening the EP with an instrumental track and reflect on her recent support slot on Love Fame Tragedy’s Australian tour. Check out the chat HERE; 

TB: Your debut EP ‘Passenger Seat’ is out now and really highlights your growth as a songwriter since the release of ‘Faded’ and ‘Darkside’ in 2016. So reflecting on those initial releases and where you are at now as an artist and songwriter, what would you say is the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself?

A: I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a person and experienced more, which translates into the writing process and just getting your feelings and experiences out onto the page. I think the biggest thing I’ve learnt about myself is not to let my anxiety get in the way of doing things, and fighting through it instead.

TB: The EP opens with the instrumental intro ‘Sunset In Our Eyes’, so what did you want from this brief moment to add to the atmosphere and layering of the EP?

A: The idea started when we were recording the string section in ‘Young And Numb’ in the bridge. I play violin and had finally found a song where it felt right to bring that into my music, and I just thought it was super pretty and atmospheric and I wanted to extend that and have it stand alone for a moment. 

It gives me these vivid mental images of driving down a highway at night when there’s no one around and kind of starting a journey, so I wanted to kind of preface the content of the EP with that feeling.

TB: The title track ‘Passenger Seat’ is a moody and beat heavy track with some really cool layered harmonies. So what inspired this track and how did it creatively come together?

A: That song is about a road trip I took with someone right at the start of our relationship, and how intense it was getting to know someone so quickly straight away and seeing the dynamic you’re going to have together. The demos for the EP all started on that road trip in voice memos and came together in the few months after.

TB: ’Too High To Cry’ is an anthem in it’s own right. I love the catchy hook and just love the whole vibe of the song. With it’s anthemic touch, what songs were inspiring that euphoric feel that layered over the sad lyrical undertones?

A: With the production we really just wanted it to soar and be ethereal, kind of to mirror that feeling of just forgetting everything and flying off into space a bit.

TB: Your recently just toured with Love Fame Tragedy on his debut tour of Australia. So what was your favourite tour memory from that run of dates?

A: There were a couple of girls who travelled to every show and gave us flowers!! What legends!! It was really lovely to see Murph’s fans lining up around the block before the doors open, especially being a new project for him and his first Australian tour, that was super nice to see.

TB: With the release of ‘Passenger Seat’ and your upcoming headlining tour in December, how are you wanting to elevate these songs in your live set and keep building the shows mood and aesthetic?

A: I have some really cool plans for the tour! Expanding my live setup for starters with live drums and new instrumental setups of the songs. Being a headline tour I’m going all out to make the set really special.

TB: With having played all of these songs in your live set in the past, is there any song in particular that you want experiment with the arrangement to give it a different feel or sonical palette on this tour?

A: I’m really keen to play ‘Young And Numb’ and ‘Passenger Seat’ because I haven’t played those as much yet! And to do the arrangement of ‘Sunset In Our Eyes’ live!

TB: What is one emotion/feeling or thought that want people to walk away from the shows feeling/thinking?

A: I guess it differs for every song, but generally I hope people who’ve been through similar experiences can relate to the songs and feel like they’re understood, or just escape for 40 minutes.

TB: You’ve done quite a few support gigs and festival slots over the year, and they aren’t always the easiest to do. So how have these shows challenged you as a performer and as an artist?

A: The early support slots are a challenge but also super fun. My favourite thing is having a crowd that doesn’t know any of the songs but by the end of the song they’ve picked up on the hook and you feel like you’ve pulled them in.

TB: Let’s play a little game of rapid fire questions where I’m going to ask you some questions that you just need to answer with the first thing that comes to mind…

A: Okay!

TB: The emoji that best describes ‘Passenger Seat’ is… 

A: The UFO!

TB: My pre-show pump up song is…

A: At the moment its ‘No Hope Generation’ by Mura Masa.

TB: Most mornings I… 

A: Snooze my 3 alarms.

TB: Pineapple on pizza is… 

A: Controversial, but lit.

TB: If I had to brush my teeth with soap or vinegar it would be… 

A: Vinegar. Followed by some salt and vinegar chips hopefully

‘Passenger Seat’ is out NOW! 

Austen Australian Tour

Thursday 5 December – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane 

Friday 6 December – OAF Gallery Bar, Sydney

Saturday 14 December – Gasometer Upstairs, Melbourne 

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