INTERVIEW: Liv Austen Talks New EP ‘Popsicle’

Best known for her country blended crossover sound Norwegian born, London based singer/songwriter Liv Austen returns this Friday with the release of her pop-based covers EP ‘Popsicle’. The record sees Liv delivering her unique versions of pop classics from years gone by; ‘Complicated’ by Avril Lavigne (2002), ‘A Thousand Miles’ by Vanessa Carlton (2002), ‘Come Clean’ by Hilary Duff (2004) and ‘Penny & Me’ by Hanson (2004).

Here we chat to Liv Austen to discuss the EP and its sonic sound further:

We’re living in strange times at the moment, how does it feel to be releasing
music during a lockdown?
It feels pretty strange but weirdly appropriate for this specific release! It’s very odd to have to rethink how I’m sharing it now – as this release has been planned since late last year. I was going to give fans a heads up at my shows shortly before the release and play some of the songs live, now I can’t do that, it’s all online. I can do streams and similar, which is great! But it is a very different way of communicating with your fans. I feel positive about it though, and I think a bit of 00s nostalgia can be perfect for people right now.

What are you hoping your fans take away from this record?
The whole idea of this EP is to give people more of an idea of what music inspired me growing up – I want them to know that side of me. It feels like I am coming full circle in my music and finding back to the original sources of inspiration from when I first decided I wanted to be a songwriter. So these songs both show people where I come from – and to an extent where I will be going with my upcoming releases!

Is there one song in particular that you’re most excited about sharing?
It’s hard to choose, but I must admit doing a cover of Come Clean (Hilary Duff, written by Kara DioGuardi and John Shanks) was at the top of my list for a long, long time. I genuinely think it’ss one of the best modern pop songs, and I love how a few of my friends have had such a huge reaction when I’ve told them the song would be on the EP; I’m glad it’s not just me who loves it! Kara is a genius of a songwriter and had some amazing hits with different artists around the time this song came out. I am a huge fan of hers. And of Hilary Duff, who I listened to non-stop as a teenager!

What was the recording process like for this EP?
What was fun was to put all my energy into arranging and producing the tracks, because the songs
were already there.

What would you say was the most challenging aspect of making this project?
It is a bit scary covering famous songs, you worry that it won’t resonate with other people who love them and that they won’t be as open to your interpretation… But in the end, all I could do was do versions that I felt were right for me. It can also be quite challenging to reimagine songs that you know so well, and not just copy the song as it is! But I think we managed to do something quite different with them.

Who have you worked with to create the tracks featured?
My producer and partner Jon Wright produced and arranged the tracks with me, as well as mixed and mastered them. We did the entire project between us, him on guitar and programmed instruments, and me doing all the piano parts. We both did backing vocals, and I got my drummer Stuart Pringle to play drums on one of the tracks (Penny & Me).

Did you go into the writing room with a set idea to create an EP or did it come together more organically?

I spent a long time deciding what handful of songs to cover. This is honestly why I wanted to do this EP, there were so many songs to choose from which just proves that it was an amazing time for pop hits. I probably had a list of about 15-20 songs and played around with them to choose four that would not only go well together but that I could do something original and interesting with.

What’s your favourite memory from making this EP?
Maybe layering all the lovely harmonies inspired by the original version (but with a twist!) of Penny & Me. It was so fun when it came together! Also playing the iconic piano theme to A Thousand Miles, that was a blast from the past!

When you’re able to tour again do you plan on putting a run of shows together in support of this new release?
By the time I will be able to tour again, there is likely to be new original music out from me. Which I am extremely excited about! So promoting that will be my priority then, this EP feels more like a little fun gift to my fans between original releases. It was my plan to include at least one of the covers at each of the gigs I would have been doing around this time, but I might have to do that later in the year! If fans request one of these songs at a gig in the future, I will be happy to comply!

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Laura Klonowski

Qualified music journalist! Writing single/album/live reviews, feature articles, interviews, and news pieces. Portfolio: Twitter: @cherylssoldier1 Instagram: @musicandtournews Email: [email protected]

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