Say Hello To… Liv Austen

June 3, 2016
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Liv Austen chatting with Ngawara for Music Vice, backstage in LondonLiv Austen chats with Ngawara backstage before a show in London – photo Martin Cox for Music Vice

Liv Austen is a Norwegian-born country artist who is attracting attention with her refreshingly tongue-in-cheek lyrics and charismatic stage performances. We caught up with her recently at her show in London, UK.

Music Vice was excited to be invited along to a new country music concert series and club night that is taking the United Kingdom by storm: Nashville Nights! Over the next few months we will be catching up with a range of emerging and established country artists to showcase the breadth of the genre – from blues country to rock, pop, folk, Americana, urban and much more. After all – there is more to country than ‘country and western’!

The growing popularity of the genre across the United Kingdom and Europe has seen increasing numbers of chart-topping North American acts venture across the pond in recent years to play to a new demographic of international fans. This flooding of country music to radio airwaves, concert halls, festivals and publications across Europe (cross-over artists such as Thomas Rhett and Keith Urban have proved especially popular) has had a profound effect on the musical stylings of a number of local artists who have adopted the genre as their own and are packing out venues across the country!

South West London’s Under The Bridge music venue was the hot ticket for UK country fans last Friday night – a hot new spot in Chelsea boasting great acoustics, a widely stocked bar, attentive staff and dancing room! The London venue is hosting monthly club nights under the Nashville Nights banner and looks to become a strong player in the city’s competitive live music market.

Last Friday Nashville Nights was headlined by Norwegian-born Liv Austen, a beautiful and charming pop/country artist who is attracting attention with her refreshingly tongue-in-cheek lyrics and charismatic stage performances. A talented multi-instrumentalist, she is currently touring her single “Don’t Regret A Single One”, a female-empowerment song about living with no regrets and loving life. We caught up with Liv after her Nashville Nights performance to chat about her latest plans, musical identity and thoughts on country music. She gave some great advice for young musicians looking to make their own stamp on the growing scene!

Ngawara Madison for MusicVice.com, London – Thanks for catching up with us! How did you discover country music coming from Scandinavia?

Liv Austen – Funnily enough I didn’t actually listen to country with my parents but when I was in my teens a friend introduced me to Carrie Underwood’s music and that got me hooked! I loved the songwriting of Hillary Lindsey, Brett James and writers like that – it really got to me and I instantly knew that was the way I wanted to write.

You grew up in Norway and now base yourself in the UK. I’m sure a lot of young musicians would love to know the steps you took to get on to this great ‘Nashville Nights’ gig today? 

I guess the first pivotal experience that lead me here today was being strongly encouraged by a fantastic singing teacher I had in my teens to get up on stage and perform. I was such a shy person and was terrified to go on stage. If it wasn’t for her believing in me I’m not sure I would be doing any of this!

I really encourage young singers to seek out a vocal coach and not let their nerves stop them from performing!

The second step I would say was moving to the UK! I moved here for drama school but things have a way of working out the way they’re meant to! I’m now doing much more singing than acting! I’m not sure that would have been the case if I had stayed in Norway…

Thirdly, the reactions I got when I first started performing my songs live around London were really encouraging. So I guess that was a step – just getting out and performing anywhere I could! After recording my first EP I put it online and the reactions I got helped to grow my support base which led up to where I am now!

Liv Austen on stage in London - photo by Martin Cox for Music Vice

What inspires your songwriting?

Real life more than anything! Events and situations that affect me – or someone close to me – are my biggest source of inspiration.

My songs are almost without exception autobiographical, and I take great pride in writing honest lyrics! It is very important to me that my songs always have a message that resonates with people in real life.

Liv Austen and her crew, backstage in London

What do you think draws people to country music that is different to other genres?

I think the stories they tell. I think the great thing about country songwriters is that they don’t beat around the bush! They find a way to just tell it like it is and there is something so poetic about that! There are some incredibly talented musicians – instrumental and vocal – in this genre, which helps too!

Where are you performing next? 

If you live in London you can catch me at London FolkFest at The Bedford in Balham on June 4, and I will also be playing a few festivals around the country this summer, like Buckle & Boots, Wye Beer Festival, FSA Fest, and Monmouth Festival. Hopefully I will get to connect with lots of new music fans around the country these next few months! The UK country audience has been so encouraging and supportive of me and I am truly grateful for that!

Buy tickets here: http://www.livausten.com/shows

© Ngawara Madison, Music Vice

Live Photography by Martin Cox, Twitter and IG:@MartinCox0155

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