- Annette Dawm
The Team Mentality of Shawn Austin
Shawn Austin may be one of Canada’s newest solo country acts, but he definitely has the mindset of a team player. When referring to his music, it was clear that Shawn’s budding career has not just been an independent effort on his part and that there are many people involved, including Dallas Smith, who signed him to Steelhead Music in 2017:
“…We really focus on being as authentic as possible. It’s really important that we put out music that people can relate with and I think that’s always going to be our focus….” Austin explained. In the beginning, Shawn and his team thought his debut single, “Paradise Found” would just be an introduction to who he was as an artist. “We didn’t think it was going to chart-- let alone break the top ten, so it was the best surprise!” He continued. Shawn’s current single, “Get Me There” has also recently made it into the top twenty on the Canadian Country Music charts, putting it just ahead of his mentor, Dallas Smith’s duet with Terri Clark called “One Drink Ago”.
“[Working with Dallas Smith] was one of those things where I thought if I was going to be lucky enough to work with him, it was going to take two or three years [of] grinding independently to try and earn the option—earn the chance to work with him. I didn’t think he would have been offering to work with me so quickly. He’s a friend first, but he’s an amazing mentor!”
In the fall of 2017, Shawn and his label mate, Andrew Hyatt joined Dallas, Lauren Alaina and The Cadillac Three (among others) for “The Side Effects Tour". It was a great learning experience due to the amount of work that went on behind the scenes. For Shawn, it reinforced “how important it is to have a team around you that you trust to be able to pull something like that off”. He added, “We had an amazing crew. Everyone on the tour was fantastic!”
While it was “tough” for Shawn to pick his favourite moments on tour, he said, “I’ll always remember the whole experience was fantastic! For somebody in my position, being very new to the scene, to be given a chance was great! But coming home, we did our final show in Abbotsford, BC and the crowd was unbelievable!”
All of the performers on The Side Effects Tour worked extremely hard, but they knew how to have fun too. This was especially apparent during the London, ON show at Centennial Hall in October of last year. As Halloween was approaching, many of the acts decided to dress up, including Lauren Alaina as “Foxy Cleopatra” and Dallas Smith as Jaren Johnston, lead singer of The Cadillac Three.
Austin admitted that the costumes were intended for the show, however it was uncertain if they would actually be able to follow through with the idea until the last minute: “It was planned and then we figured there wasn’t going to be enough time to do it, but then they decided it has to happen! He looked exactly like Jaren! It was perfect!”
Currently, Shawn is on tour with High Valley and The Hunter Brothers. Prior to their shows together, Shawn had never met them but it was something he was very excited about: “I think any time you get a chance—like I said, I’m a rookie—so when you get to go with guys that are a lot more seasoned and experienced than me in this case… there’s going to be a lot that I can pull from these guys as performers and as artists and as people. All I’ve heard is that they’re great people, so you can’t beat hanging out with guys like that then. I’m just going to be the odd man out because I’m an only child and I don’t have siblings with me!”
Summer 2018 will also be an exciting time for Shawn Austin as he plans to perform at a few festivals and release an EP. Although he is still a newcomer, he has plenty to offer in terms of advice: “Be prepared. Everyone knows that it’s hard work-- that doing this is very difficult to break and kind of make it a career-- but you don’t recognize how difficult it is until you actually do it! Again, it shows you how important having a strong team around you is.”
For more information, please visit www.shawnaustinmusic.com .
Photos by Annette Dawm.