RAMONA WORKSHOPS: PERIOD WITCHES

A Talk with Auguste

Interview and review by Sophie van Bastelaer

Australian electro­pop step­sister duo Auguste deserves to be your next musical obsession. Skye Lockwood and Beth Keough have fresh ideas about instrumental combinations and lyrics, husky, romantic voices that were made to harmonize with one another, and a clear dedication to women’s empowerment. In an eclectic genre so typically privileged towards and reserved for male artists, their music is refreshing and electrifying. Boasting an incredibly affecting sound, Auguste sets itself apart most of all with its fervor for both versatility and vulnerability; within each piece several emotive responses are encouraged, which is a quality very few other musical acts have effectively achieved. While their haunting harmonies and smooth lyrics will give you goosebumps (think Daughter, or Bahari, or Wyvern Lingo), their catchy rhythms and smooth synth will make you want to dance (think Ellie Goulding, or MS MR, or Chvrches). The duo have just released their newest single, “Kingdom”, to rave reviews; its hypnotic mesh of 80s­era­reminiscent synth, string instruments, twinkling xylophone, unusual rhythmic pauses and chilling vocals ­­ as well as the repetition of particularly haunting lyric “you’re killing me” throughout the upbeat musical dialogue ­­ give the song a poignancy and a nostalgic timelessness made all the more touching by the song’s message, which encourages women to reclaim their personal space. Their other single “Slow Motion” is just similar enough to “Kingdom” that one can see a clear musical thread between the two songs and establish Auguste’s commitment to their unique sound, but just different enough to keep things interesting. A minor­key anthem with gorgeous vocal harmonies and a catchy beat, “Slow Motion” conforms more closely than “Kingdom” does to conventions of classic pop ­­ it’s fun and dreamy and and impossible not to groove to. I’ve had both songs on repeat for hours, and for good reason; these girls are shaping a new realm in which to create and experience music. Check out our interview with Auguste below to get a better sense of their roots, their inspiration, their dream collaboration and their hopes for their future (and for the future of women in music).

How did Auguste form? How long have you each been making music?

Auguste formed out of the lessons we learnt from a previous band we were in together. We have both been making music for a long time, since we were kids really, in our own way. We got together and started collaborating about 6 years ago.

Where do you draw inspiration for your sound?

Other artists– we have drawn a lot of inspo from pop and electronic acts we love. London Grammar, Highasakite, Montgomery, Sia, SBTRKT, Little Dragon, CHVRCHES– they are just a few acts I can think of that we have listened to a lot as we’ve been trying to evolve our sound..

What is your favorite part about working with one another as step-sisters? As musicians?

I guess the fact that we know each other quite well and we don’t really get offended by each other. It allows us to be quite honest about our opinions and where we want to take a song musically, or what part of the industry we want to focus our attention on. We are both quite different in the way we think and work which can be frustrating at times, but it also works really well in terms of making balanced decisions. We also have heaps of fun together; we’re not afraid to take the piss out of ourselves and each other!

Tell us a bit about the steps of your songwriting process.

We tend to get together and start with a synth sound in a program or a cool beat and build a melody from there. Writing lyrics and melody is the most important part and also the hardest. Once we have a melody idea in place we are often stuck for hours filling in the gaps and working on rhymes and metaphors to fit what we are trying to say. We have a laugh though making stupid rhymes up until we come up with something that we both agree hits the mark. We also often bounce ideas off an outsider; it’s good to have an objective opinion– especially if we can’t agree on something!

If you could collaborate with one other artist, who would it be?

Oh man, that’s a hard one. Andy Bull haha. Or an act like Baths would be cool.

What has been your biggest challenge so far, musical or personal, and how did you overcome it?

Probably time management– It can be hard to do everything, and keep getting better at everything… especially when we are both working other jobs outside of our music lives as well. We have learnt to relax and prioritize better over the years. Just focus on the really important things and the things we are the best at!

How do you hope your music will make an impact on young women in Australia and the rest of the world?

I really hope it inspires more women to get into music. It still is an incredibly male-dominated industry, both for artists and in other aspects of the industry.

What tips would you give to any aspiring musicians?

Work hard and don’t be afraid to be different. You have to be constantly expanding your skill set, whether that is staying up with the production tools and programs out there, or learning a new instrument, you need to be willing to constantly challenge yourself and evolve as an artist. Enjoy the ride as well though; it’s not really worth it if you take things too seriously.

Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?

I’d like to have a really successful single. But honestly, I’m pretty happy with where things are at the moment. I’m not driven by success as much as feeling productive and being able to create.

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Sophie van Bastelaer

Sophie is a Beligian-American expat currently living in Toronto. Some of her favourite things include rain, TV shows that make her cry, other people’s birthdays, and baking chocolate chip cookies. Find her on Instagram @sophie_rose_vb and Twitter @svanbastelaer and tell her your stories.

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