We first met Liv Austen back in 2015 when we went to her show at London’s Borderline venue. We were struck by her relationship with the audience, her high energy performance, and her musical style, a blend of pop and country, which verges on Americana but somehow has a different quality to it. Back then Liv had released her first record, a four-track EP named, ‘Workin’ Man’s Dream’. Now Liv has signed with NUA Entertainment, and is set to release a new album in the autumn. After playing numerous shows this year – including the prestigious C2C, as as a variety of festivals – Liv’s next move is her latest single, ‘Window Shopping’. We had the chance to ask Liv six quick questions ahead of the release of the upbeat, high energy track, on 20 July.
EP: You’ve got a new single out, ‘Window Shopping’, which you co-wrote with Kaity Rae. You’ve said the track is about the superficiality of some people when they’re looking for love, they’re really judge-y, they’re window shopping! Talk to us about that – what’s it like looking for love in a world which is increasingly seeming to base merit on looks?
LA: I think it’s really tough for some people these days. I do worry about the attitude that seems to be the norm now. There is a sense that people can always get something better, there’s always new content out there, and it’s like people’s attitude to other humans is the same. Like they’ve got addicted to constantly window shop, they expect something better to show up and they never commit, instead of trying to connect with somebody on a deeper level. I think looks is probably the least important thing in a relationship, when it comes down to it. I wish we celebrated authenticity and uniqueness a lot more!
EP: You describe your style as “part Scandi pop, part UK singer/songwriter, and part Nashville country”. Has your sound been a conscious decision or do you feel you have to sing this way, it’s part of you, it’s the way you must express yourself?
LA: It’s really just how it turned out – from the music that I’ve been influenced by in my life. I have never made a conscious decision to be any one thing, I have just always wanted to make the music that comes out naturally, and that’s the best way I can describe it!
EP: Who or what inspires your music? Similarly, who or what are your inspirations in everyday life? Why?
LA: I’m inspired lyrically by what is going on in my life and conversations I have with people, and generally just stuff I feel passionate about (which is quite a lot). My partner, family and friends play big roles in my songs. Musically, I find inspiration in both old and new material all the time, and I love that I can be very inspired by certain types of music, but that it translates in to something quite different when I make my own. I could give you a long list of what artists I am inspired by, but I really want to mention Carly Rae Jepsen and Kelsea Ballerini. I love that their songs are so specific and honest in their lyrics, and so pleasing to listen to at the same time.
In life I am inspired by so many people. I have an incredible amount of compassionate and hard working people around me, and I’m inspired by that. I want to reach my goals but also remember how important it is that we all take care of each other, and that we need each other to lean on.
EP: If you had three wishes – what would they be (“more wishes” isn’t allowed!)?
LA: I’d wish for the ability to stop time every now and then, so I could catch up with myself a little bit without the world going by so quickly! I’d also wish for everyone in the world to be (figuratively) injected with a huge dose of empathy, so we could all be more compassionate with each other. My last wish would be for all of the people I love to be safe and live long, happy lives (is that selfish? Wishing it for everyone in the world just seemed a bit generic!).
EP: How important is it for you to represent the UK with your music, the way it sounds, the lyrics etc? What is it about UK music that sets it apart from that of the US for instance? Where do you feel UK music is headed?
LA: It’s hugely important for me to represent the UK in what I do. I guess with my roots I want to represent Scandinavia too, and I’m very proud of all the great music, especially songwriters and producers, coming out of Norway at the moment.
But I do live in the UK and this is where my whole career came to life, I’ve felt very supported here. I love so much American music, and I’m very inspired by it. I do think that some people, maybe especially when it comes to the Americana/country side of things, tend to ignore or forget the insane talent you can find here in the UK. The incredible songwriters I’ve collaborated with here, the producers, the musicians; I want to celebrate them and highlight them in my work.
It’s also become important to me to show that I’m proud of where I’m from and where I live, and not try to sound like I’m American or anything like that. Of course I stay true to the tradition of my kind of music, and I don’t sing with a straight up London accent! But I do make it a thing to use British phrases and words where I can, rather than American ones. In my new single, I have the line “don’t care if you’re fit, just if we fit” – which I love. “You’re fit” is obviously quite a British thing to say, and I don’t want to shy away from the kind of stuff that gives away where you’re from, you know?
I think what’s really great in the UK right now is that we seem to all be celebrated for finding our own sound. People are more open to cross over genres, unique vocal styles, lyrics, all that. I don’t feel like I’m made fit in to a very limited category where I don’t feel at home. I think the music fans are just such intelligent listeners, and that inspires me to write stuff unlike what’s already out there.
EP: What’s next for Liv Austen?
LA: I am so unbelievably excited that I can say my album is coming out this autumn, I cannot wait to share it with the world! When it’s released we will aim to do as many gigs around the UK as we can, and also go abroad next year. So stay tuned, sign up to my mailing list if you want to know.