Austin Merrill Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Austin Merrill Interview by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

Lamitschka:  Music has many new fans throughout Europe
who may be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe
yourself and the music you play to someone who has never seen or heard you?

Answer: I grew up on Country music from the
1990s, and all that great music from my childhood influences what I write and
sing today. My music is a mixture of old and new; I want to take a lot of that
old-school sound and bring it into the modern era. I try to create songs that
are made for today’s Country radio, but remind listeners of the roots of the
genre.

Lamitschka:  What is your upcoming project?

Answer: I am really excited to release my debut
EP, Whiskey & Water, on April 26th. I was lucky enough to work with the
legendary Nashville producer Mark Bright on this project, and together we have
created a sound that I think people are going to love. Whether you’re in the
mood for something slow or fast, old-school or new-school, we’ve covered it all
on this record. I feel like this project really showcases who I am as an
artist, and I am very excited and proud to share it with the world.

Lamitschka:  Do you write the songs yourself? Explain
that process.

Answer: Yes, I write all my songs by myself.
Song ideas can really come at any moment. Sometimes I sit down with my guitar,
intent on writing something. Other times, an idea will come into my head while
I’m driving down the road or just going about life. Then I’ll take that idea or
that melody and work at it, turning it into a complete story set to a chord
progression. I sing to myself a lot, and sometimes it’s complete jibberish if I
haven’t written the lyrics yet. I imagine it looks both strange and hilarious,
which is why I only do it when I’m alone.

Lamitschka:  Please tell us about the songs on your
album (influences, favorites, etc).

Answer: It’s honestly hard to pick a favorite
song on this record since I wrote them all. It’s like asking my mom to pick a
favorite kid! (Actually she probably could, and it wouldn’t be me.) I will say
that my lead focus track, “You’ll Come Knocking,“ is particularly special to me
because I think it’s a perfect blend of that golden 90‘s era and the modern
Country sound. I am also really proud of how “The Leaver“ turned out. It tells
a great story and has a feel-good vibe that audiences will love as we head into
the warmer weather.

Lamitschka:  What is your favorite song among all the
songs you have recorded and what’s the story behind it?

Answer: “Jeep Grand Cherokee“ has a pretty good
backstory. I flew back to my home state of Oregon for a holiday weekend to
surprise my mother, and I started writing this on the plane. I finished it a
couple days later at my parents‘ house, using my cheap, original guitar that
was still in my old bedroom closet. Sometimes the best songs come at the most
random times.

Lamitschka:  How much creative control do you have over
your music?

Answer: Ultimately, I have all the creative
control over my music, and it has been such a blessing to work with my producer
Mark Bright on developing my unique sound. He has an extremely impressive track
record of creating amazing, groundbreaking music, and I consider myself very
fortunate to have the opportunity to blend my creativity with his unparalleled
artistic vision. I couldn’t be happier with the result. It’s exactly who I am
as a Country music artist.

Lamitschka:  Do you have any interesting stories about
how fans have been affected by your music?

Answer: I love hearing stories about how my
music has affected people, and how certain fans connect with certain songs in a
special way. My favorite story isn’t one of the tear-jerkers though. A few
years back, my best friend was working a job out in the Oregon wilderness. He
had no cell phone service and the only music he had on his phone was mine. That
guy listened to my songs on repeat for weeks! He had them memorized the next
time I saw him.

Lamitschka:  Who inspires you musically and how deep do
your musical roots run?

Answer: I was born in 1990, and I grew up
listening to Country radio because that’s what my parents played. Occasionally,
we’d listen to pop or rock music, but they controlled the radio dial and none
of us kids complained. I’ve loved Country music as long as I’ve been alive. The
whole 90‘s era had so many great artists, but if I had to pick a favorite it
would be Alan Jackson. His songwriting and his delivery are unmatched in my
view. He is easily one of the best artists Nashville has ever produced, and if
I could be even half as great as he is, I would consider that a success.

Lamitschka:  As an artist, you so many tasks such as
recording, touring, interviews. What do you like best, what’s your favorite
activity?

Answer: There are many different facets of this
business to enjoy, but I find recording new music to be the most rewarding.
It‘s a really incredible feeling to witness a song that I wrote being turned
into a full production. Listening to the amazing session players turn my
acoustic songs into something radio-ready is an experience that will never get
old. Hearing my artistic vision come to fruition is one of the greatest
feelings in life. That’s why I am so excited to share this new project with the
world. I feel we have created something truly special.

  

Lamitschka:  What inspired you to become a songwriter?

Answer: Growing up, I was solely an
instrumentalist. I am a classically-trained upright bassist and a jazz
saxophonist, but I never sang or wrote songs until I went off to college. Maybe
songwriting came to me because my college was in the middle of Nashville, or
maybe it was just the logical next step as a musician, after listening to
Country music for so many years. I can’t say for certain; all I know is I have
found my true calling and I am very grateful for that.

Lamitschka:  What drives you?

Answer: I am driven by the desire to bring back
some of the traditional country music sound that I feel the industry has lost
over the years. Music trends go through cycles in every genre, and I strive to
be an artist that helps influence the next sonic shift in Country music. I hope
that shift brings us a little closer to our roots as a genre. Beyond that, I am
motivated by the joy that comes with sharing my art with the public. I love
entertaining people. I love eliciting emotion through song. I was born to do
it, and I doubt those feelings will ever leave me.

Lamitschka:  What has been your greatest challenge in
music business?

Answer:There is a lot of music out there, and
it can be a struggle to make yourself heard among so many other artists. I feel
like this project will stand out not only for its lyrical content, but for the
memorable melodies and the incredible contribution of my producer Mark Bright.
Hopefully, Country music fans worldwide will find this to be a fresh, new, and
much-needed addition to their playlists and to the genre as a whole. 

Lamitschka:  Is there any place you haven’t played that
you would like to?

Answer: That’s an easy one: the Grand Ole Opry.
There is no more special venue for a Country music artist than the Grand Ole
Opry here in Nashville, and I hope to step on that stage one day as so many of
my favorite artists have done. I’ve been in the audience many times, and every
time I’ve imagined being up there singing and playing.

Lamitschka:  What can your fans expect to see when they
see you in concert?

Answer: My live shows give audiences a chance
to connect with me and my songs on another level. I love being able to share my
music directly with listeners, and there is really no better way to do that
than face-to-face. I’m also a pretty good guitar player, and that is more
evident in concert than in the recording studio, so that adds to the live
experience. Basically, fans can expect to have fun when they see me in concert.
I know I’ll be having fun up there.

Lamitschka:  What’s your favorite song that you wish
you could have recorded?

Answer: Every songwriter has at least one song
that he or she has heard and wished they had written. There are quite a few
songs and songwriters that I admire, but one that has always stood out to me is
“Walking In Memphis“ by Marc Cohn. The band Lonestar did a Country version of
it back in 2003. Songwriting is all about telling stories, and Marc Cohn wrote
about as good a story as I have ever heard. It’s an iconic song, the kind every
songwriter tries to write. We’ll see what the future brings. Maybe I’ll write
“Walking In Nashville“ and it’ll be a big hit haha. Thanks for your time. It
was a pleasure interviewing with you. All you Country music fans out there be
sure to check out my new EP, Whiskey & Water, available on all digital
platforms April 26th.

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