(photos by Nick Stach // Eightfold)
This past Thursday, Sam Austins hosted a pre-release listening party for his latest project Angst, a sonically adventurous departure from his recent releases that centers around “a lot of sounds and words I wanted to let out during this past summer.”
To this point, Garret Koehler, General Manager at Assemble Sound, said in introducing the event, “(Sam) will come out here, and maybe he’ll tell you some stuff…like, why this stuff sounds nothing like ‘FIJI.'” It was evident that Assemble Sound played a major role in the project; the crowd was largely composed of studio affiliates, fellow Detroit artists, and fans of various capacities eager to hear the new material. On top of that, Austins made a point to shout out SYBLYNG, Assemble mainstay and Executive Producer of Angst, along with many others that work at or with the studio.
The event took place in an Corktown loft space, one that I’d never been to or heard of before despite living down the street. With an open bar and an array of Detroit music’s finest, the energy was already high by the time Austins made an appearance. His presence was undeniable, not only because he turned heads as he walked in the room, but because Austins’ energy is the kind of thing that goes without saying. He thanked and every person that approached him, and he seemed to genuinely appreciate the love he was getting that night. He was unabashedly excited to let people hear what he and his team had created, and who can blame him.
One word kept coming up in the descriptions of the project and Austins as an artist: progress. Anyone I talked to that knew Sam described how much he’d grown in recent years, and how happy they were to see him shining that night. In his own words: “This whole project was based off of 3 years ago; I was kicked out, had no fan base, and look where we at right now!! This is just the beginning.”
Without going into too much detail, I’ll say that the collection of songs felt both surprising and natural. Koehler was right, this was no FIJI, though it did exhibit some of the pop sensibilities that made the single such a local hit. These songs felt darker, with a more somber delivery layered over sounds that were more fit for a rainy evening than a pool party. His introspective lyrics were apparent throughout, particularly on “Emotional” (my personal favorite) and “Video Games” (at one point, Austins croons, ‘I had one more extra life’). The way Sam ad-libbed and vibed to each song was evidence of the project’s deeper meaning; this was his moment, one of many to come, and he was intent on living it up.
With a solid list of collaborations and features along with some great visuals to go with the music, Sam Austins is definitely someone to look out for in 2018. Check out his new project Angst when it’s released on November 9th, and be ready for more to come from this promising Detroit artist.
“My momma ain’t know she raised a G.O.A.T.!”