After the release of ‘The Next Time’, Liv Austen talks to Lyrically-Speaking about her new single and what it was like working with Jessica Sharman.
Liv Austen is a singer/songwriter originating from Oslo, Norway. She now joins us in the UK to bless us with her country/western vibes. She has recently released her new single ‘The Next Time’ which was written by herself and Jessica Sharman.
What/who inspired you to go into music?
I came from a very musical background so it was a big part of my everyday life. I’m not sure my parents pictured that I would be doing this for a living. As I was growing up, I really loved listening to Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Alicia Keys. It was only as I got older that I got into the country side and started listening to Carrie Underwood and Little Big Town as I go really curious about who wrote songs for people.
You’ve moved from Oslo to the UK to develop your acting career, how did you find yourself starting to make music?
Drama school was really time consuming and demanding so whilst I was there, it became a bit of a break for me. I would go into one of the little studios at school and work on a song and it would be just for me. It was only when I left drama school and moved to London, I thought; ‘oh maybe I should test these songs out on people and see what they think’. It was nice to have the power to choose what I spent my time doing and then I started doing gigs and people really loved the songs and it just went from there.
You’ve recently released your new single ‘The Next Time’ do you think this is different to the songs you released on your EP ‘Working Man’s Dream’?
My songs have changed a lot since the songs from ‘Working Man’s Dream’ which came out in 2014 and some of the songs were even older than that. ‘The Next Time’ is also the first song I have written with someone else. I think I’ve learned so much by writing with other people and now I’m inspired by other types of music.
I understand that it is based on personal experience. Are you able to tell me more about that?
The song sounds like it is a break-up song and the music video also shows that. Sometimes you have to break up with either a friend or a colleague that has let you down or they are not treating you very well. I was dealing with a colleague that just kept letting me down, wasting my time and making me feel like I wasn’t important to him at all. I was in a writing session with Jess and I was frustrated and ranting about how he kept saying that he is going to do better the next time. Yet, this was his next time. She looked at me and said there is your song. ‘The Next Time’ is a different way of saying you’ve used up your chances.
The music video has been released for the single, what was the best part about working on this?
I’ve never had so much fun working on a music video. I worked with a company called Green Tea Productions and they were just really great and so experienced. We all just had so much fun, we just kind of went a bit mad after the second day. The song was playing all the time and when we went on a break, there would always be one person singing the melody without realising! It was just a really great shoot!
The song was co-written by Jessica Sharman, what was it like working with her?
She is fantastic. I write with her quite a lot and this is the first song I ever wrote with her. She has such a great vocabulary as a musician and a songwriter, she is always full of fantastic ideas. You know that with sports there is the main athlete and the rest of the team is supporting that one person so they can win. When I write with Jess, I feel like that and pushing her in the right direction of what I want but she is that person that has all the clever lyrics and twists. She is really brilliant.
Ben Earle from The Shires also wrote your song ‘Over’, what was it like working with him?
I’ve known Ben for a while and he messaged me out of the blue asking if I wanted to do this song that he had written. I was just really hoping that it would be a good song. I loved singing on ‘Over’. He asked me if I also wanted to play the piano on the song. When I went into the studio, I was really nervous because it was a song that he had written and I just was wondering when I was playing; ‘is he going to like this?’. I’m really grateful for that opportunity and I had so much fun working with him.
Was it different working with Ben compared to Jess?
When it comes to Jess and I, we started acting like sisters from when we first started working together. It feels like we have had similar experiences in our lives and we just bounce off each other. Ben and I get on so well. Our relationship is built on humour and banter. His background is a little different from mine so we meet in the middle with the influences we’ve had. Both are really friendly people and so easy to work with.
Did you learn anything new from Jessica or Ben that you are now putting into practice in your work?
I think what I’ve learnt from Jess and that I’m still learning now is her fearlessness when it comes to throwing ideas out there and having fun with words. With Ben, he just loves music and creating sounds seems like his passion. There is no end to how many different genres can come together in one song. Both of them have influenced ‘The Next Time’ as it is both a pop and country sound and neither cancel the other one out. I think the words are very country because they are quite straight-forward whereas the melody with the vocal hook is inspired by pop. The more music I listen to, the more inspired I get.
What is your song writing process?
Most of the time, it will be a concept that comes to me or a situation but mostly it stems from my own life. I generally start with the lyrics but the melody comes with the lyrics. It is always really driven by the words. If I haven’t got anything to say then I am not going to write a song.
Are there any new songs that you are working on at the moment that you can give us some spoilers to?
I’m going to release my second single in January which is a song called ‘Don’t Regret A Single One’ and I’m really excited about it. It is a bit of a feminist anthem for me and I think the world might need that right now so I’m really excited about that being released.
What is your favourite song that you have released? Why?
I would say that ‘The Next Time’ is my favourite because it is the first single I’ve released since signing my record deal. It is an important song for me and I feel that it represents my new sound and me as who I am right now.
You’re in the process of recording your LP, when do you expect this to be released?
We’re finishing it up at the moment and doing the dreaded job of choosing what songs actually make it because we have way too many. The plan is probably to release it in the spring next year but we haven’t got a set date. It’s really hard to plan because it all depends on what gigs I’m doing and what is happening in my career but there is definitely going to be one next year.
Is there anything that you can reveal to us about the LP?
I’ve written with a lot of really fun people and there are some songs that I am really proud of. You’re going to be able to hear influences from all kinds of music that I have been listening to that has changed my way of writing. It is just so many steps up from what I have done before and I can’t wait for people to hear it!
What has been your biggest challenge as a singer/songwriter?
Which one to pick! This year I signed my record deal but I would say this is not the be all and end all as I know people that have stayed independent and been very successful but it is difficult particularly financially. That itself was a big challenge and now I’m lucky enough to have a team around me and support and now I can go in the studio whenever I want and that is a great advantage. My new challenge is that I have a lot of people around me that have opinions on what I should do, what songs I should release, what I should look like and that kind of stuff. I’m finding it more of a fun challenge because it feels more like an actual job because you’re having to deal with other people and their input.
What has been the best piece of advice that you have been given? Who was this by?
We were recording the vocals for a song I’m releasing in January and it is particularly tough vocally to sing it. Singers will understand but sometime when I’m recording and singing a song again and again, it connects with something physical within you and makes you really emotional. My producer stopped me and said that I’m feeling really emotional because what I’ve written and I am singing about really matters to me and this is what sets me apart from a lot of other people. He told me that this was the real stuff and not to lose that realness because that is what it is all about. I don’t know whether he meant it as advice but I took it as just keep doing what you’re doing and keep being real about the stuff I want to sing about.
Do you have any advice for anyone just making their way into music?
It probably would be something kind of similar and I would tell anyone that wanted to make it in music to only do it if you have something to share with the world. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the words for everyone, it could just be the kind of music that they have inside of them but just to really think about what your motivation for doing it is because if you haven’t got some kind of message that you want to share with the world then it is going to be very tough to have the motivation to do it. As cliché as it sounds, nobody can be you so that is the most amazing and unique thing that you can do and don’t let anybody take that away from you.
Some wise words from Liv Austen. I’m sure you will be with us at Lyrically-Speaking that we will be keeping tuned in to what Liv is going to bring to the table next!
Soundcloud – http://bit.ly/2zzFXzx
YouTube – http://bit.ly/2ijQIC1
Website – livausten.com
Facebook – facebook.com/LivAusten
Twitter – twitter.com/LivAusten
Instagram – instagram/livausten