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  • Tessa Brainard

Interview: "FREAK" by Beauty School Drop Out (feat. jxdn) - Austin Seltzer

Congratulations on the release of "FREAK," What was something new you learned from working on this song?

Austin: I learned an incredibly valuable lesson, actually. Sometimes you need to entirely scrap a mix - Literally, delete it and start over to get a great result. Sometimes the direction you take a track isn't the direction the artist wants to take the track, and you have to start from scratch with a totally different mindset and approach. At the end of the day, a mixer is only here to serve the artist and their vision. You have to leave your ego at the door and be vulnerable and open to taking direction from the person with the vision for the track. One of the most fun parts of the job is being taken out of your comfort zone in how you "usually" do things and finding ways to accommodate and achieve someone's vision.

You moved to Nashville to attend the Blackbird Academy after growing up in Dallas. What is one thing you learned during your time at school that you carry with you today?

Austin: There are so many great lessons I learned while I attended The Blackbird Academy. If I had to narrow it down to just one thing that I learned that is still relevant in my daily business, it is this: You don't always have to be the "best" engineer to win the gig; you just have to be the one who is awesome to hang with/most easy to get along with, and who is excellent at what they do. The music-making process is already complicated enough and often incredibly difficult with how many people have to give the green light for a track to even get to the mixing stage. The last thing you want to be is difficult to work or hang with.

I read that when you're not in Los Angeles, you're living abroad. Where is the best place you've traveled to for music, and what is the best thing you've learned in your travels?

Austin: I have not lived abroad, but I have traveled significantly. In 2017, I was pretty jaded about the music industry. Some friends had planned to go on an extended overseas trip to Southeast Asia, and I decided that maybe that was exactly what I needed to jumpstart my passion for music again. Luckily, it did just that! There are so many great things I learned from that trip. One which seems so simple but yet it's easily overlooked. Creating authentic music is only possible if you are living life. If you do the same thing day in and day out, you are caught in the motions of life, and your music will reflect that. Even as someone who now only mixes, you can tell through my work that I am a storyteller at heart. I do my best to make my mixes feel like they are very cinematic and tell a story more profound than what just the music or lyrics are telling.

You've worked with many different artists! Can you share a bit of behind-the-scenes info about any of those projects?

Austin: I've worked with so many artists, and each one is much different than the last in terms of their work. There are some songs I work on for artists where I only speak with the producers on the project, like the Maggie Lindemann record, for instance. Cody Tarpley, Josh Murty, and I went back and forth on notes for those tracks. Then there are artists like TiLLie, who like to come into the studio and do notes in person because she knows exactly what she wants and she's a producer on her records.

Photo Credits: Cass Huckabay

What artists do you plan to work with in the future?

Austin: I have so many upcoming releases that I am excited for, and also several I am not able to share just yet that I am excited for. I have a release with a JPop group named SG5 called "Firetruck," Produced by Hudson Mohawke and Bloodpop, mixed by me, and mastered by Joker. I also have releases with Layto, Loren Gray, Niki DeMar, and many more.

What can you tell us about projects you have planned for the future?

Austin: Great question! I'm currently gearing up to launch my own podcast. I have been steadily building out the podcast room next to my studio. It's been one hell of a process so far, between painting, sourcing furniture, and creating a victorian gothic meets speakeasy-style vibe, all while continuing to mix and master artist's records. I have to develop a new name for the podcast, so keep on the lookout on Instagram to stay updated on the new name and more information about what's to come!

Interviewed By Tessa Brainard



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