Start off your day by checking out an interview with Fort Worth, TX's own Austin Blair Campbell. You may remember him from the couple of posts I did on him a few months back with his singles "I Can't (Let You Go)" and "Uphill Climb" that reflect his Southern upbringing and charm, and also shows where he's at in his life currently with his beautiful voice working wonders on just about everyone he meets. I had the honor and privilege of doing an interview with him as we get to know Austin a little better, his musical influences growing up, what it was like to record his debut LP, and how he spends his downtime. Here is the transcript from our in depth chat:
Give us your name and what instrument you regularly play? Austin Blair Campbell - I play acoustic guitar for my music, but I'm honestly a singer and a writer. Those are my true instruments. But...I’d love to get better at guitar, I feel like that would launch me to a different place with song writing. What is your earliest memory of being interested in music? I grew up around it. My mom is a killer vocalist and my pops has incredible taste in music so as early back as I can remember music was seducing me in. And I let it. Take us behind your upbringing in Fort Worth, TX and how much of a role growing up in the Lone Star state played in your development? Man, I love Texas. We really are a proud group of US citizens. I grew up actually in a town just North of Fort Worth and I recall all kinds of things from those days. I'm not so sure that I recognize fully the impact that my physical surroundings had/has on me in my writing today. But I can say that there is an overall feeling of hard work in this state. Not to say that it isn't like that for other places in the US. But I do find myself having thoughts on the hard work that goes into life that I've seen from my parents specifically along with others. So perhaps it is that “Texas, Lone Star, hard work, proud to be an American” thing. What are some artists that have helped shape you to be the person you are today? I mean, currently...I’d say that I'm well versed on all released material of the solo stuff coming from David Ramirez, Jason Isbell, and Noah Gundersen. Only one who is a Texas boy is David. And for this record, I can tell you these three greatly impacted my writing, my direction, and the final product of this release. I cant get enough of their stuff. I have heard the songs 800 times, have memories attached to many of them. But growing up, my parents both were fans of music that had groove. My writing partners, Caleb and Ben Barnett and I love music that grooves. All different genres honestly. From cult following artists like Shawn Colvin, Deana Carter, Bonnie Raitt, Marc Broussard, Darius Rucker now and back when he was Hootie to much more known artists of totally different styles like Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble, Radiohead, Toto, some old Motown stuff, some rap I know it seems like a cope out answer, but I like so much variety in the music I listen too. I think its helped shape me as a writer today for sure. Let's go behind your creative process and what type of environment best enables you to write songs, is it collaborative with other people or just involving yourself? I'd say when it comes to lyrics, a majority of the time I need to go get by myself and just plug away til its how I think I want it. Those songs that come out that way are collaborative in that I finish it and show it to Caleb and Ben amongst some others and get a feel for their first impression and then go from there. But then other stuff happens sometimes where its myself and Caleb and Ben all teaming up on an idea and it just comes together. That’s how the process for the title track, Uphill Climb was. I came to them with a verse and a chorus melody and honestly I said to them “I need y’all’s help finishing this song because I'm not good enough at guitar to take it where it needs to go but it needs to be on this record” so we went into the tracking room and ran through some ideas and it was just built that way from the ground up. Bottom line though and we learned this officially first hand with this record...things go best when we keep it at the core. Put the three of us in a room with an artist and a good base idea and we will come out with what we see as a hit. Not trying to say we are the best writers ever or anything like that, but the three of us together is a special thing. And we feel blessed to be where we are in this world of music right now. What is the backstory behind the songs "I Can't (Let You Go)" and "Uphill Climb", how pleased are you with the finished compositions? Well I touched a little bit on "Uphill Climb" earlier, but in general in writing I strive for a few things. First of all, every writer tells stories of themselves. Be it places they have been, want to go, or plan to go. Or heartache the same, been through, gone through, or plan to go through...you write with yourself in mind. But I also like to try and write about things that may not have happened to me and may never happen to me, but things I have seen happen to others and how I see that impacting them and how they responded mixed in with what I would do...I mean after all I'm a story teller. But with these songs specifically, ICLYG is about a specific person who I fell in love with but it wasn't in the cards for us to be together and I had to let go, I knew I had to move on, I wanted to move on, but I couldn’t. It was a struggle. And I’d be lying if I didn't say that when I think about the situation right now I still get emotionally invested in the details. But that song came together right in the middle of those emotions. Where as lyrically, Uphill Climb was just an idea that I had and rolled with it. Sure I can associate people in my walk to it, but its probably more so a culmination of every girl I've ever known that's let me down and just moving on from that even when its hard, its what has to happen. How do you communicate effectively with the audience in between songs, does it ever get awkward or do you feel largely comfortable on stage? I feel pretty comfy. A lot of the places I play regularly, people are there for the ambiance. So I'm just background noise for the most part. I may have the attention of a few set of ears, and I may have some sort of banter or play with them from the platform if I'm feeling feisty. But outside of that I take lessons from watching David Ramirez live honestly. I have seen him 4 times. No one demands the attention of a room by strumming a chord and singing from heartbreak like that dude. I'm telling you right flipping now. He has you hanging by every word. I want that in my live settings. So I try to present myself and my music with that in mind. Besides music, what can we find you doing in your spare time? Spare time? Ive never heard of such a thing. Haha, I'm kidding of course. I'm a regular dude. I love movies and relaxing with the people I love. Playing games sometimes...just normal stuff. How special is the Texas atmosphere for music and what would you say to people looking to move here? Wow, well Texas is a special place. Obviously Austin, TX is known for its music scene. But man I will tell you right now, Fort Worth is on the come up with music. There are some stellar artists coming up from here that are worth a listen to and if you're into music and are interested in living in the greatest state in the US, then come on with it. But on a serious note, Grady Spencer & the Work, Cody Culberson, Luke Wade, Erick Willis, and Joey Green are some great dudes doing some great writing and releasing so go find the on all the socials and on iTunes. They are all worth your time. Where can people find out more info about you online? I just launched my full website. It has my upcoming shows, my singles, an EPK on there along with some other cool stuff. And my record is out for Pre-sale now and will be available May 12. Lastly, how has music changed the course of your life and enriched it? I do music full time, so at this point it has had the biggest impact on me over anything else in my life and its the greatest job in the world. And I'm the happiest I have ever been so its clearly been enriching!
Thanks once again to Austin for being so rad in doing this interview. I can't remember a time where I've been so touched and moved by a particular artist where his essence conveys the beauty and aura surrounding him, and Austin does exactly that by capturing the audience's attention with his beautiful personality and Southern charm that evokes itself well throughout all of his music. For more on Austin, please 'Like' him on Facebook over at this channel here and hear his tunes via his Soundcloud page covenienently located right here.