Posted On 13 Jun 2018
Los Angeles’s latest output Austin Ward is thrilled to share his debut single “Bubblegum” with listeners. The delicate indie track oozes with melty guitar lines, trembling organs, and Austin’s sultry vocals, pulling you into a vortex of subtle sex appeal. Ward croons about navigating the first glimpse of a new relationship after a deep heartbreak and staying apprehensive to the selfish patterns of LA girls. The track glows with indie comfort, making it clear that Ward is someone to keep your eye on.
Raised between the sun-kissed jungle gym of Los Angeles and the back-wood charm of Meridian, MS, Ward draws upon his eclectic upbringing to inform his sound. He’s spent years behind the scenes, developing the sound of other artists, but he’s finally emerged with the music he’s always wanted you to
hear. The writing is minimalist, but pointed, telling an emotive story with choice words. He sings of heartbreak and the tug-of-war nature of love, driven by intricate layered guitar parts, velvety mid-range and falsetto vocal performances, and anthemic timbre. “Bubblegum” is the first single from Austin Ward’s debut project Pheromone . The seven track EP takes listeners through a tale of first love and the lessons of heartbreak on the other side.
Ward’s sound is an amalgamation of styles and influences that span across time – he invites listeners to journey with him as he almost theatrically confronts a three-part cast of characters: love, sex, and power. With lush instrumentation and poetic, but pointed, lyricism, Ward has developed a sound that’s in line with the best of Grizzly Bear and Beach House. Pheromone is the music that Ward has always wanted to create. These are the songs that have been marinating in his bedroom, the songs that have chronicled the love and loss in his life, the songs that give you everything he has.
“Bubblegum is a stumbling, heartfelt dance; an ode to the vulnerability one feels when chasing after an attraction who’s caught up in all the wrong things — the obscenities of Los Angeles. My hope for the song’s production was to sonically capture these contrasting feelings of enamor and frustration. I’ve taken my desperation and soaked it in honey, for your listening pleasure.” – Austin Ward
Connect With Austin Ward Here: Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / SoundCloud
Learn more about Austin Ward in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So where does this interview find you? What’s on tap for the rest of your day?
Happy to be here! I’m hard at work finishing mixing my debut record Pheromone. It’s a seemingly never-ending process but every hour is worth having the music translate how it does in my head. I also plan to sit with my guitar and exhaust my fingers of new chord ideas. I’m already thinking about the next project 🙂
Overall, how do you think 2017 was for you and your career? What is one big goal you have for 2018? Growing up, did you ever think that this would be the kind of life that you would live? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
2017 was an immensely important year for me. It was the year in which I shifted my musical focus to strengthening myself as a frontman and building a band around me to help bring my writing to life. It was also the year in which I decided to forgo my 9 to 5 at YouTube and embrace the music grind full-time… it’s been a fulfilling and freeing time. 2018 is where this all comes to life. I’ve known that I’ve had this in my since I picked up the guitar at 10 years old — there’s always been a voice in the back of my head urging me to give credence to my musical creativity and voice. Away we go.
How do you think that your hometown has influenced the kind of artist that you are today and the kind of music that you make? How do you try to separate yourself from all the other promising musicians in LA now?
My upbringing was somewhat unorthodox. I’m an LA kid born and bread, however I spent a significant amount of my childhood, when not in school, with my Mama’s side of the family down in Meridian, Mississippi. The juxtaposition of Meridian and Los Angeles to the layman is undeniably strange, however it’s a blessing that I’ve never taken for granted. Having a deep connection to the South, and the incredible musical history there with Delta Blues and Jazz, has undoubtedly influenced my sound. LA is where I’ve come to grow confident in my musical pursuits and inspires a majority of my writing, however I’m constantly paying homage to my Southern heritage, incorporating gospel and blues elements in my guitar playing. I think that this element of soul and nostalgia baked into my records that draw from my connection to the South will help distinguish me from the onslaught of LA acts.
Let’s talk about your debut single “Bubblegum.” What was the inspiration for this track? How do you think it prepares listeners for more music from you on your upcoming debut EP, “Pheromone”?
Bubblegum is sultry, driving alternative track that confronts the beauty and power of femininity, while grappling with the frustrations of putting oneself out there in Los Angeles. In a city full of temptation and fast lives, it’s easy to find oneself enamoured by women who are caught up in all the wrong things. Bubblegum tackles this idea head-on. I’d say though that the sonic direction of Bubblegum isn’t too indicative of the sound of the Pheromone project as a whole. The project is diverse, touching on Alternative Rock, Modern Pop/Funk, Blues, and Jazz. It’s a tasting palate for everywhere my ear and vocal/guitar tone can go. I’m curious what listeners gravitate towards because there’s really something on there for everybody.
Do you remember what it was like hearing the whole EP for the first time? What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process? Were there any unexpected challenges?
The entire process of putting Pheromone together has been a dream come true. I’ve had confidence in all of the material for the project, but it had never left my bedroom. Working with my world-class musician band-mates to bring these songs to life was probably the most fun I’ve ever had, ha. The process was full of interesting twists, turns, surprises, and delights. How a song feels when you’re belting it out in your room on a 6-string can be entirely different than how it translates in the studio. We did all of the recording at East West, with my dear friend Chaz Sexton as the lead engineer and producer/writer Jack Gallagher lending his ears in the room. It was a collaborative and invigorating collection of sessions.
What has been your favorite performance so far? What do you think makes an ideal show for you?
My band and I have just started to kick of rehearsals for Pheromone. I can’t wait to get on stage with these players — it’s going to breathe a whole new life into the music. The ideal show for me allows every musician to bring their special sauce to the table — yes I’m the front-man and the band is self-titled, however our live performances should by no means be all about me. Improvisation and fluctuating dynamics will be at the forefront. What fun is playing strict to the record anyway? 😉
Do you have any upcoming live shows you would like to tell our readers about?
We are living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? How do you think that music is going to reflect these challenging times?
Music has always been my outlet. It is the discipline I turn to in order to confront any incoming emotion that needs some grappling. It is the healthiest habit I have. I respect artists who use their art and platform to discuss/take a stand on the plethora of modern political and social challenges our world is facing. That has never been my song to sing, but music now, as it certainly has historically, needs to continue to play a role in communicating the bleeding edge of our society’s moral values. It should be a vehicle to create change and spread empathy.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
As a player, I’m immensely inspired by all of the Blues and Jazz pioneers — Miles Davis, Robert Johnson, Ella Fitzgerald, Muddy Waters, BB King, John Coltrane, etc. I’ve studied Blues and Jazz guitar for a number of years, and I am continuously astounded by this immensely talented generation. From a more modern standpoint, I love the bands that are taking strong, emotive songwriting and making it feel relevant today. Jesse Rutherford is a great example — both his solo writing and the catalogue of The Neighbourhood have such depth, diversity, melody and perspective. I’m also a sucker for Maggie Rogers — her spirit, energy, and tone hits me in all the right places. I’d love to collaborate with her.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music?
I hope my fans understand that I’m not trying to put myself in a box. I’m not trying to be a carbon copy or play into a sub-genre that’s prevalent in the NOW. I’m giving my full and honest self in this music, and am largely not following rules. Pheromone explores multiple genres in just 7 songs, journeying through the various touch points my ear tends to land. I want them to come with me as I continue to find my voice as a singer and guitarist, pushing my writing past it’s boundaries alongside truly incredible players. My writing confronts love, loss, and everything in between — I hope that my fans will not only relate, but will sing along 🙂
Would you like to share anything else with our readers about yourself or your music?
There’s so much more to come. I can’t wait to share my ever-evolving catalogue with you, get on stage and perform for you. Please stay tuned because this isn’t the last you’ll hear from Austin Ward.