Austin Lam is Expressing His Heartbreak With "Troublemakers"
Austin Lam is a hopeless romantic, and there’s no need to decipher that from his musical musings—he’ll tell you himself straight up. It’s in this place of barebones emotional authenticity that we find Lam with his latest release, aptly titled “Troublemakers”—navigating the rocky territory of heartbreak, Lam leaves no stone unturned in his search for truth. One conclusion he’s able to draw? It’s OK to be heartbroken. Now that’s a word.
Hailing from ATL—a city with a reputation for greatness, in the scope of rap and otherwise—Lam is a mere 21-years-old, which might come as a surprise considering his emotional maturity. There’s nothing that this young R&B artist does sans emotion, and that’s exactly how we like it—laying all his cards out on the table. Hear “Troublemakers” for yourself below, then keep scrolling for our heart-to-heart with this budding new artist.
I really want to start with “Troublemakers” since it just dropped, congrats on that!
Thank you so much.
I know it’s only been a couple days but what’s the reception been like so far?
Everyone is really interested in who I’m talking about in the record more than anything. Of course they love the record and they love the sound because it’s a newer sound that they’re not used to. They’re so interested in why I wrote that song and what it’s about because they want to know what the story’s going to be in the album. They want to know who it’s about and whether the rest of the album is going to be like this record. The reception’s been great.
I’m definitely curious also. Is it about a specific person or a larger idea?
It’s definitely a specific person.
Do you think you’ll ever reveal who it is?
People who know me and are close to me definitely know who it is. I probably won’t just because I really paint that person as a bad person in the album and I don’t want to slander anybody. That person’s got a life now and moved on.
So, the track is off your upcoming album. What’s the narrative that ties all the songs together? Is it that one person or is there a larger idea that you’re pushing for?
It really is that one person to be honest, but there’s a larger idea involved in that it’s okay to be heartbroken. Being heartbroken isn’t the end. That’s what I try to paint for people in the album. I want people to really relate to the album in a sense of, you know, everybody goes through that stuff. I wrote it when I was going through a really hard time with that person.
A lot of your work is centered on either love or heartbreak. What draws you to that theme?
I’m just that kind of person. I love really hard and I hate even harder. I don’t think I’ll ever really let that person go. I like the idea of love, it makes me feel better. Honestly, I’m looking for someone to love me right now. I always will be, just to feel whole again. I haven’t really felt whole since everything fell apart with that woman. I’m just a really emotional person.
Do you feel a sense of relief when you put out the music that’s about that? Do you feel like a burden has been lifted off of you or do you still carry it with you?
I definitely feel some kind of relief. I’ll always carry that stuff with me, I don’t think I’ll ever quite get over it. I definitely feel some kind of relief when I release that music because I know she’ll hear it somewhere along the lines. I know she will. In my mind, it’s never going to be over with. Just having that thought in my head that she’ll hear it makes me feel good. I’ll probably never speak to her again. So, in a way, I’m kind of speaking to her again through the music. So I find solace in that.
I was just on your Soundcloud. Was “Spirited Away” the first track you released?
It was. I made it more as an experimental thing while I was in school. I didn’t know what I was doing or how to make music yet. I was just working out the kinks. I put it up on the internet, didn’t promote it or anything, just put it up there. It grew exponentially, really. I’m so surprised and happy with the reception of that record. I have like 55,000 plays on it. I had never promoted it or anything, but that was the first record I put out publicly.
I know it was only put out a year ago, but how do you feel you’ve evolved as an artist? Do you feel there’s been a big change?
Yeah, I look back at pictures on social media of things we did a year ago and not only is it sonically so different now, but I look like a completely different person too. I think I’ve just matured in a lot of ways. I’ve been doing a lot of things and pursuing this career is not an easy task. One has to really stay persistent and know that something’s gonna give at some point. You have to love what you do to do this career. It’s very hard. It forces you to be mature in a lot of aspects. I feel that I’m a lot stronger and a lot more okay with being alone than I was, and I think that really reflects in my music. The music is more mature and more refined now. The character and the perspective of that character has changed in the music and I think I’ve found myself more. I’m more comfortable in my own skin.
You said you feel like you look like a different person. How do you think your style and your music are intertwined or influence each other?
They’re definitely related. My hair was in a really awkward stage about a year ago. I look back at those pictures and I look so dumb, so naive. All this time has passed and I’ve had a lot of time to think about how life works and the fact that I’m always going to be alone—that I’m probably never going to find love or anything like that. That reflected in the way that I look, in my face—I can just see it in myself. I think we’re making more conscious choices in my style and what I wear now. We want to reflect my maturity in my style, too. Back then, we were trying to find how we wanted people to see me and now we definitely know because the character is so much more fleshed out than it ever was. My style and my music are definitely intertwined, it’s all connected. I think my style feeds off of the music.
Did you say that you think you’re never going to find love again?
Yeah, yeah, I’m not. I’m really going to be alone the rest of my life. I’m at peace with that.
But, how do you know? That’s so sad…
Everyone says that. Everyone’s always like, “How do you know?”, “Why would you shut yourself off?”, or whatever, but I just got out of another relationship with a woman that was perfect or whatever, but something just didn’t feel right. I’m kind of unloveable. The parts of me that a woman wants me to give are just broken at this point. I don’t think I’m a person who is loved at this point, and that’s okay. Some people have that and some people do. I’m not burdened by it, that’s just who I am.
Do you think future projects will also be centered on love or are you interested in going into other experiences?
That’s a good question. I think just because I’m a hopeless romantic, my music will also have a perspective on that, depending on how I’m feeling. I really don’t know if my future work will be centered around love. As hard and rewarding as this body of work was, I’d like to think I’m capable of more than that. I am a hopeless romantic so love is a huge part of my music. It will always have a piece, but I do think I’ll go in different directions.
Well, I’m excited to hear the whole record.
Thank you, I hope you like it.
Featured image courtesy of Austin Lam
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