Everyone has that lame boyfriend they want to tell off.
The Norwegian-born songstress and actress Liv Austen shows off both with her latest video, "The Next Time," premiering exclusively on Popdust. It echoes the themes of independence and female victory that artists Austen have been compared to also reflect, and showcases her many talents. She embraces the flavors of country and pop music that have inspired her to create a sound all her own, with a killer confidence to match. "The Next Time" is only the beginning, however, as Austen has a new album to come soon in the future.
To accompany the premier of her video, Liv spoke with Popdust via email about her musical journey, what it was like filming the video, and what she's got planned for the future.
How did you get interested in music?
I always had music around me, from I was very young. It was just always there, in my life, through my parents, I played piano, sang in the church choir... And I had a fantastic music teacher in school when I got older who encouraged me to find my own voice. I don't know where to start with all of my musical influences, there are so many who have shaped me in to the songwriter I am today!
The turning point in your career came when you overcame stage fright as a teenager. How much of a challenge was that for you? What advice might you give others who find themselves in similar places?
It was a huge challenge. Getting on stage and singing (or even speaking, for that matter!) was one of the most frightening things for me, honestly. Sometimes I can't believe that I am doing this for a living now, thinking of how much it used to scare me! I also do believe I was so frightened of it because I wanted it so much. All I'd say to someone who is going through the same thing, is to never say never. Don't say that you can't do it – you are so much braver and stronger than you think. I made this great rule for myself which I still live by: "I can be nervous, I can mess up... But I can not chicken out." I think as long as you are forgiving of yourself and allow yourself to go on stage knowing that you might not be perfect every time is helpful. Cut yourself some slack. And if there's anyone you can talk to about your fears, do!
Your music is often described as country-pop, which I think is sort of fascinating because you were born in Norway. How did you discover the genre?
I started in pop really, I wanted to write songs in the style of Britney Spears, Hilary Duff, Michael Jackson... But then kind of by chance I was introduced to Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw. I think there is a similarity really, in all of the music I love. Growing up in Norway, the cultural influences from partly the UK, but mostly the US, is so vast, so that was always there. What attracts me about country, is the honesty in the lyrics, the straightforwardness, if that's a word! But my love for hooky pop tracks and fantastic, expensive pop production is also strong. And I think what has happened overtime is that I have created my own sound and taste based on all of the stuff I have listened to, and my music has become part Scandi pop, part pure UK/American pop and part heartbreaking, real, honest country lyrics.
Those are pretty good people to be compared to! I am a huge fan of Carly. Her production is absolute perfection. I also love her songwriting and think she should be so, so huge. Taylor was fun to discover as a young songwriter, because I felt she was one of the few who did something similar to what I did – country/pop songs about young frustration and heartbreak, but always with an element of fun. I admire both of those women for what they've created for themselves. I am inspired by so many different people. Carrie Underwood inspires me as a performer, and as a public figure. John Mayer and his lack of concern for what genre he is in, is truly inspiring. He just does his own thing and is probably the best example of how well that works.
Let's talk about "The Next Time." What was the writing and recording process for the song like?
I wrote this song with Jessica Sharman, who is now one of my favourite cowriters. In this writing session I was stressing out about a person who was constantly letting me down, and I had just about come to the conclusion that I had to remove this person from my life. Jess was amazing and helped me write a sassy and fun song about it, instead of sitting there wallowing in my own misery! I felt so elated after the song was finished. She brilliantly sat by her laptop and typed down everything I said about the situation, one of which was "he keeps saying he will do better 'next time, next time'... But what he doesn't understand is that this was the next time." And that's how the title was born. I also remember that when we had written the first verse and prechorus, Jess was frantically playing the last chord we had and shouted "sing! Sing whatever comes to mind, go!!" and I just sang "ooooh", like the melodic hook that you hear in the chorus. It just happened, and it felt so organic and fun!
Recording the song was really good fun too. I recorded this as one of the first tracks on the album, I was so confident about it and knew it would be a contender for single. I recorded it at my label's studio with my coproducer and engineer LOFT, and my other producer Jon Wright. We had a brilliant time throwing ideas around for it, and it was so fun being a coproducer on my own music, finally. I think both of my producers were surprised at how pop I was willing to go with this track. They repeatedly went: "really?" with some of the stuff I suggested. But I am so proud of the result!
The video for the song is really fun. What inspired it and what was it like to film it?
I had a great time shooting this video. I did it with a production company called GreanTea, and they were absolutely fantastic in helping me create the fun and sassy vibe I was going for. We were so on the same page from the start. It was one of the easiest shoots I've done really, we just had fun with it! We used some amazing locations around London and everyone on set was fantastic, including my stylist and makeup artist. The guy who plays my boyfriend in the video is a model named Paul, really lovely guy who I got along with very well (he is more attentive in real life than how he comes across in the video, luckily!). By the end of the two days we all had the song firmly stuck in our heads, as it had been playing it on repeat for hours!
What's up next for you?
I want to release more music soon, finish my album and get out there and play live to people as much as possible! I have a few gigs lined up already, people can keep up with my live schedule on livausten.com/shows.
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