A Music Blog, Yea? spoke with Ontario singer-songwriter Andrew Austin about Paul Simon, album artwork, Polaroids, and Tim Hortons. Recently releasing his record While It’s Still Light Out earlier this month, it’s the perfect time to get acquainted with the heartfelt and genuine alternative-pop artist.
AMBY: Hello Andrew, thanks for speaking with AMBY. What have you been up to lately?
Andrew Austin: Hi AMBY. My pleasure. Thank you for having me. Lately? We’ll for the most part I’ve been trying to keep a baby boy alive. I had a child a few months ago it’s actually been awesome but it occupies a lot of my time and energy of course. Also I’ve been trying to get ready for this album to come out of course.
AMBY: While It’s Still Light Out came out on October 8th. How did you come up with this title for the LP?
Andrew Austin: The title comes from a lyric in Here Comes The River but the phrase ‘While It’s Still Light Out’ when repurposed more generally seemed to permeate the whole album. I feel like there’s something innocent about the album which reminded me of children trying to get a game finished before the sun goes down. I guess I often feel like there might be some kind of darkness looming ahead or there’s some deadline that I’m trying to defeat. Also I like the acronym WiSLO.
AMBY: Beautiful Bones is a beautiful song, probably my favourite on the album. Which songs do you love the most?
Andrew Austin: Thank you. I love hearing that because Beautiful Bones was a late addition to the record. I love the arrangement of it and all the craziness Dave added to it. It’s hard to pick favourites when you’re so inside all the songs, but I think I still like It Ain’t This Town the best as a whole. From the songwriting perspective I think I came closest to succeeding at what I was trying to do on that one.
AMBY: Inside Out is the first single off of your upcoming album. What’s the story behind the track?
Andrew Austin: Inside Out has already had an interesting life from my perspective. It was written for a Family Channel TV show called ‘The Next Step’ which is a show I’ve written quite a bit of music for. I played that song for Dave Newfeld not thinking it would have any impact, but he really liked it. He had to convince me that it belonged on this record. This was flattering because it takes something special to get Dave excited. I never thought it would be the first single, but people continue to pick it.
AMBY: We love the video for the song. How did Polaroids become such an important part of the video?
Andrew Austin: At the photoshoot for the album the photographer would pick up a polaroid camera every so often and snap a few shots. Polaroid pictures are so interesting aesthetically. They are old-timey but also contemporary with the advent of instagram and the emulation of ‘vintage’ aesthetics in digital photography. The way polaroid photos fade in slowly lent itself to this lyric video idea. I’m glad you like it.
AMBY: What inspired the While It’s Still Light Out album artwork?
Andrew Austin: For the album photo shoot I got together with some really talented friends, and we came up with these situations and settings which emulated childlike innocence and imagination. I worked with an amazing production designer named Jen Thomas who is just one of those people with endless creativity. So a lot of credit goes to her, as well as the great Renata Kaveh who was behind the camera. The actual album design was another great talent, Roger Dario. Every design he made for us was so right, it was a tough decision. But in the end we just loved this one the most.
AMBY: Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration?
Andrew Austin: Songwriting inspiration comes from a few places for me. Of course it comes from relationships, especially ones that make me feel insecure or unsure. I often write songs exploring fears and consequences associated with potential relationship failure. I don’t set out to but it’s often a natural place I start. Once a song gets going I like to imagine scenarios, almost like movie scenes in my mind I guess, and develop the stories that way. At the same time in a different way a lot of the inspiration I get comes from a competitive streak that runs pretty healthily in me. Whether it’s hearing a song I love by a friend, or catching a really famous artist on the radio, I feel compelled to compete with those songs. Which is probably weird, and I probably don’t succeed, but there’s something productive about it.
AMBY: You recently played a Paul Simon Tribute Night in Toronto. What was that like?
Andrew Austin: The Paul Simon night was great fun. Organized by a friend of mine in Toronto. She’d organized a Leonard Cohen night I performed at a few months ago and it was great. I’m such a fan of Paul Simon. Graceland was the first CD I ever got. The songs are so legendary, and smart and beautiful. A bunch of great artists I’d never met were there so it was great to get to hear them and collaborate.
AMBY: Who would be in your ultimate concert line-up?
Andrew Austin: I guess the most obvious that come to my mind are Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Feist, Arcade Fire, The Shins, Bon Iver, Wilco, Radiohead. Obviously seeing those bands live would be incredible. Too many to name. Going to see Phish has been a long time sort of guilt-free guilty pleasure of mine.
AMBY: What’s the best release of the year?
Andrew Austin: The best release of this year? up to now? I’d have to say my favourite was a band called On An On who’s album Dave Newfeld produced as well. They’re from Chicago. My friend Jadea Kelly’s album Clover is so beautiful. I like the Kanye West album a lot. But I’m sure The Arcade Fire record that comes in a few weeks is gonna blow us all away anyway right? I mean the Reflektor thing they put out is already so cool.
AMBY: And lastly, what’s something about Andrew Austin that nobody knows yet?
Andrew Austin: I think people are just finding out that I also wrote and sing the Tim Hortons It’s Time For Tims jingle. I made that with Dave in his studio before we started the album. It was kind of hilarious.
Thank you Andrew Austin, for giving us your answers!
Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout