Liv Austen gave us her Essential Playlist earlier. Now we ask the singer/songwriter to answer a quick 11 questions for us.
EP: What’s the Liv Austen story?
LA: I grew up in Norway and was an extremely shy child, but with an enormous need to express myself artistically – a difficult combination! I played piano, acted in drama groups and sang in choirs, and finally (with some help) came out of my shell and stepped in to the spotlight a bit more. In my teens I discovered my passion for songwriting, which has been an essential part of my life ever since. I trained in performing arts both in Norway and in the UK, and after graduating I moved to London. I finally decided to try out some of my songs in some small venues around town, and it’s been a bit of a crazy ride since!
EP: Your EP, ‘Workin’ Man’s Dream’, was crowdfunded through Pledgemusic – how was that experience? Would you do it again?
LA: I can not begin to express how grateful I am to all the people that pledged to my campaign; without them Workin’ Man’s Dream would probably never have happened and my past year would have looked very different without that EP.
However I have to admit: running a crowdfunding campaign is extremely stressful and very hard work! I would recommend it to other people, but just be prepared for the project to take over your life for a while. You contact a lot of people that don’t necessarily understand what you’re trying to do and just go “Fantastic! Good luck with it!” when you ask them to share it etc. If I were to do it again, it wouldn’t be for a while, I think. Not sure my heart could take it! It is a great tool though, as funding can be hard to get as a musician. And you really learn who truly care about what you do.
EP: Speaking of ‘Workin’ Man’s Dream’ – W21 Music rated it as the best EP of the year – silly question, but how was that? 🙂
LA: It was unbelievable. I was so honoured. I found out on New Year’s Eve and I was at home with my family. I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to spend that evening talking about myself and my music, but then my brother saw it on social media and exclaimed it to the whole family – they were absolutely thrilled! So I got to express how happy I was about it and we cheered over it at dinner. I love symbolism and milestone moments and all that, so to be awarded UK EP of the Year on the last day of 2014 made me feel like I was on to a good year. Which turned out to be true!
EP: If you could do it all over again, what, if anything, would you do differently? Why?
LA: I would have doubted myself less, and allowed myself to be confident in my abilities earlier. I knew that I wanted to record my own music from I was about 17 years old, so had I been a more confident person I would have got around to it earlier. Then again, things tend to happen when you’re ready for them to happen, so maybe it wouldn’t have been the time for me to do it. But in short: I would have spent a lot less time thinking that everybody was better and more deserving than me.
EP: You’re an actress as well as a singer/songwriter – what might we have seen you in?
LA: Well you may see me on tv soon (or maybe it’s on already? I don’t have tv!) in a Carpetright commercial, of all things! I got to be a mum to an adorable one year old, that was the highlight of that job. I also had to take a bubble bath with 7 other people in the room. Haha!
I have done tons of short films and one independent film, nothing that has been on the big screen yet. I still act from time to time, so we will see what that part of my life has in store in the future! I absolutely love acting – and it has shaped my performances as a singer a great deal.
EP: What other talents do you have?
LA: Oh dear! Well… I guess I am quite a good dancer after all those years doing performing arts. But it’s been a while now, I should brush up on my tap dancing skills. I absolutely love dancing. I don’t know, I’m good at making friends? …Does that count? I think I need some new skills!! And I make a mean lasagne, like, I’m famous for it among my friends.
EP: What’s your take on the current state of the music industry?
LA: It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. People keep saying it used to be so much easier, but I’m not exactly sure that’s true. I think being a musician has probably always been hard, but maybe the way it is difficult changes. Making any money off music sales is a huge challenge as an independent artist. Getting label interest is also very hard, and even something you have to be skeptical about when it comes along, due to the nature of the business. But then we have these great tools like social media that we didn’t have just a few years ago, and there’s a lot of power in being able to promote yourself that way. I also think the conversation that is going on about the music business is making people aware and want to treat musicians right, which is promising.
EP: What’s the top 3 songs/artists you’re listening to right now? Who should we be looking out for, in your opinion?
LA: I love Maddie & Tae’s new album, and Jana Kramer’s album too and needless to say for anyone who knows me, Carrie Underwood’s new album Storyteller is on repeat ever since it came out. I keep playing Holloway Road’s new single We Said So as well! I think in terms of who to look out for in the UK, these guys might be it. They’re awesome, they’re different, and they have such a cool sound.
EP: What will you be doing this time next year? In 5 years? 10?
LA: This is the scariest question imaginable, haha. But a good one to ask yourself! This time next year I hope to be playing lots of gigs and I will have released new music. If it’s up to me I will be on tour or at least traveling to new places with my band and performing to new audiences.
In 5 years I want to look back at at least one studio album and a few big tours. I will have written songs for other artists and travelled the world!
10 years – yikes! I hope to be an established artist and songwriter who has tried out some new sounds, written and collaborated with great people and released several albums. I also hope to have done some acting jobs that I can be proud of – and I want a world tour under my belt!
EP: Who’s your ultimate collaboration – living or dead? Why?
LA: It’s so hard to pick one! I think it would be really awesome to share the stage or maybe even write a song with Tyler Hilton. He seems like a wonderful person and is such a great singer and songwriter.
EP: What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview – but NOBODY ever does?
LA: Wow! Nice one. Brandon Stanton (the guy behind Humans Of New York) used to ask people: “What advice would you give to a large group of people?” I think that’s an awesome question.
My answer to that would be one of my favourite mantras: “Go where you’re celebrated, not where you’re tolerated.” I remind myself of this as often as I can. It is so easy to get stuck trying to get accepted by people or systems that will never give you the credit you deserve.
To hell with them! Move on to something better – someone who understands how amazing you are. If you have to fight to get seen or heard, they aren’t worth your time. It’s easy to forget sometimes.