Five Questions With… Andrew Austin
The Toronto singer/songwriter follows up a recent pop hit and a new seasonal anthem with a polished sophomore album. Here he discusses its creation, his favourite songs, his artistic evolution and a belief that the music biz is doing just fine.
By Jason Schneider
If fans of Toronto singer/songwriter Andrew Austin were surprised by his 2018 smash hit pop single “Everything And More” (featuring Willa) and his new seasonal anthem “Christmas Is Coming Soon”—which hit the Top 10 on Canada’s national holiday music chart—any questions about his musical evolution are fully answered on his second full-length album Starts And Fits, available now through Believe Digital.
Created in the wake of his work as musical director on the Disney/Family Channel show Backstage, Starts And Fits finds Austin collaborating with award-winning producer James Bunton (Donovan Woods, Vivek Shraya) who also mixed the album for maximum earworm-inducing effect.
Austin also reveled in the ability to write from an adult perspective again, and as evidenced by standout tracks such as “Make My Head Go” and “Carried Away,” Starts And Fits is the sexiest collection he’s offered thus far. Moreover, as the process unfolded and Andrew felt like he was finding a new voice, he had to keep some of his best ideas for himself while continuing to co-write with other artists like Donovan Woods, Emm Gryner, and Bobby Bazini.
What it all adds up to is Andrew Austin’s emergence as one of Canada’s most dynamic singer/songwriters. While chances are that up until now you’ve heard his music in one form or another, with Starts And Fits he is ready to join the ranks of contemporary pop’s biggest names. Find out more at andrewaustin.ca.
What makes Starts And Fits different from your past work?
The first thing is that I kinda put away the acoustic guitar for a while when I was making this record. I was just in a writing mode where the acoustic guitar was boring me. I was just writing and producing full demos and loving that, although I’m back to loving just playing and writing with my guitar now. The other thing I feel is I’m better at music now. I guess that’s subjective, but I feel like I’m getting better and better. And at least for me, that comes through on the album.
What songs on the record are you most proud of and why?
I like the way the record opens and closes. There’s kind of an intro song and an outro song. I also am really into “Carried Away,” and “La La.” “Carried Away” feels like a joyride to me from the songwriter perspective, complete with whole-tone modulation. “La La” seems like a song where the production and lyrics and melody came together in a way I like.
How would you describe your artistic evolution so far?
It’s been awesome actually... I’ve been so lucky to work on so much different music over the last five or so years. From writing for other artists, writing for and even being the musical director of TV shows, writing for so many ads and films and you name it. Working with [producer] Dave Newfeld on my first record. All of that stuff was so informative to what I am doing now, and it’s given the songs on the new album a real common thread. I think the development is apparent from the time I was just a guy in a bedroom with guitar and notepad who had no idea what was going on, to now being, I guess, this writer/producer type who’s so much more tapped-in. It’s so much more fun. And it makes me love writing songs with a guitar and notebook in my bedroom way more as well!
What's been the most significant change in your life over the past year?
Well, I have two little boys. Kids always make you feel like your life is a relentless tornado of change. Like, after five years I might be finished buying diapers because my younger son is toilet training. HUGE!! My older one has a loose tooth! First one! BOOM!!
If you could fix anything about the music industry, what would it be?
Nothing. It’s perfect! I touch on this in the album. The song “La La” is kind of about this stuff. I find it hard to complain about the music biz. I always feel like I could have a million little complaints about how songwriters aren’t valued enough, but that also might sound too much like, “I don’t get paid enough for the job I do,” which everyone feels and nobody wants to hear. So I actually think that the music business is kinda working itself out slowly. I think there are some people who are bad eggs. But that’s true in everything right? I’m happy that there is a bunch of songwriters working together to stand up for themselves. And I’m onside with them. Ultimately, I hope that music remains valued for its human contribution to the world.
People love music, and they love that it comes from other humans that they can share something with while sharing with each other. That’s kind of the point of it. So my hope is that the human creativity in music is preserved and valued and nurtured more and more instead of having, say, the platter that the food is served upon getting all the spoils. Am I mixing enough metaphors here?