Meet the artist that embodies elements of pop, jazz and R&B to create soulful aural treats.
Ahead of his first major video release, LA juggernaut ASTN dives into his musical upbringing, the big shift in moving to California and his plans to dominate in 2021.
Hello Austin! As an icebreaker, tell us something about yourself that nobody else knows.
I used to be super into dirt bike racing but then I’m pretty sure one day I crashed so hard that I decided it was time to take the music approach. I still enjoy watching motocross and supercross races but I figured the music thing was the safer route. I know my mom agrees with me.
Shuffling around the South all throughout your adolescence, from Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia and Florida… how did the music scene differ between states?
They were actually all fairly similar; lots of country and rock. I slowly started to enjoy country music less and less, and it eventually got to a point where I just flat out hated hearing it. I just recently started listening to it again, and I really really love it.
And now you’ve firmly placed yourself in the heart of Los Angeles – was this move a big shift in comparison to the rest?
It totally was. This was my first time living away from my parents, and it was a huge switch up. Not to mention the change of pace. Growing up in the south, everyone was just laidback and life was slow. LA is most definitely the complete opposite. I’ve been here for almost two years, and I’m still learning to adjust.
How has residing in LA helped you focus on your musical craft?
Just being here is pretty inspiring. I’m learning to take advantage of what this city has to offer. The networking opportunities are insane. Seeing everyone chasing something out here is more than enough to push me in the right direction.
…and LA must’ve had a huge effect on yourself, having dedicated an entire song to the place? Talk me through the thought process behind ‘LA Don’t Look Good On U’
I moved to LA in July of 2019 and after being here for just a few months, I knew I had a lot I wanted to say about this city. It’s a great place on the surface, but it can definitely swallow up some people. I actually wrote the song from the perspective of an outsider. I used to see LA as this magical place where everyone parties and watches their dreams come to life. It didn’t take me long to realize that that wasn’t always the case. People get lost in this city. I’m trying my best not to.
Where did the idea behind its music video come from?
We took a lot of inspiration from old Hollywood movies such as ‘Sunset Boulevard’, ‘Mulholland Drive’, and ‘Under The Silver Lake’. Our main goal was to portray three personas to show the different perspectives in the music industry. LA is a city based on image, so we embellished a lot on the characters and styling.
‘ASTN’ cannot be defined by any one genre and your music blurs the lines of pop, jazz, R&B and the rest! – so who, out of the other artists you listen to and vibe with, have infiltrated your music the most?
For the past year or so, I’ve found myself very music influenced by more neo-soul and r&b artists. I listen to a lot of Jazmine Sullivan, Brent Faiyaz, and Ty Dolla Sign. Also, another lowkey artist would be Jordan Rakei. I studied jazz in college for a year and a half before I dropped out so I’ve been trying to blend that into my sound recently.
You’ve built yourself a rightful fanbase since your debut, with tracks like ‘Flowers’ ranking up a mega 18 million streams on Spotify alone – how do you respond to reaching such milestones like this?
I gotta say, I never even thought I’d made it to where I am right now. Not that I didn’t believe in myself or anything, but it just never seemed attainable. Over the past few years, I’ve been learning to enjoy the journey more than anything. The numbers are great and all, but I find myself checking them less and less. I’m more focused on building a community and culture around my music. Even if just one person is moved by my music, I know I’m on the right track. That’s what pushes me to keep doing this music thing.
When you experience a creative block from time to time, how do you unwind and recharge?
I’ve never been one to force things. If the creative juices aren’t flowing, just try something else. I like to play video games or watch movies. I’ll literally do anything to take my mind off the music. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without writing a song. Sometimes I’ll write 5 songs in a week. It’s just something I don’t force and will always let it come naturally.
If people could take away one thing from your music, what would it be?
I just want people to know it’s possible. All dreams are attainable if you put your head down and keep digging. Back in 2017, I was beyond lost and had no clue what my purpose was. I just continued to do what I was passionate about, and it turned into this. I don’t ever want anyone to feel like they’re down and out. Keep on pushing and watch what happens.
Everybody wants 2021 to be “the year” after having so many missed opportunities last year – how do you see yourself making the most 2021?
Well for starters, I’m planning on releasing way more music this year. 2020 was a bit of a weird one for me because I only released one single. I took time to get to know myself as an artist and really hone in on what it is I do best. I’m ready to unload the vault. I’m kind of sick and tired of being the only one hearing these songs. I’m also making efforts to be more engaging and personable with my fans. I honestly don’t even really like the word ‘fans’ that much. I’d much rather just say supporters because that’s what they are. They allow me to do what I’ve always dreamt of doing, so I wanna make sure I return the favor. I’m never out of reach with them, and I need them to know that.