In Creating His 'ANGST' EP, Sam Austins' Art Finds Ease

Photos by Flint Eastwood

Photos by Flint Eastwood

Sam Austins is the 21 year old Detroit native steadily marking his territory as the next great act from the 313. Growing up in a musical family, Sam has been rapping for as long as he can remember. Towards the end of High School he began taking his interests in music more seriously, releasing his first song on SoundCloud three years ago. Sam’s early success was followed by his EP “GOAT”, which earned him national recognition and even a spot on the bills opening for artists like Playboi Carti and Vince Staples. Since then Sam has kept the majority of his work in the vault while quietly piecing together the puzzle for long-term success.

Now Sam is re-entering the spotlight with the release of his EP “ANGST”. It’s an immersive project marking his progression into becoming a full-time artist. His raps are reinvigorated with a new ardor, one that thrives in mystery and explores new ground. It’s a deeper dive into darkness, his hard-hitting energy now contained for carefully crafted moments. With “ANGST” Sam presents new vocal ranges, thoughtful messages and plenty of emotion. It’s a story of needing something more from life,  finding it in others, discover a mistaken remedy and ending up back where you started. Sam began writing “ANGST” in April of 2017, reflecting on events that took place 2-3 years prior while he was establishing a name for himself in Detroit’s underground rap scene.

On “ANGST”, Sam worked with a team to create something bigger than the sum of its parts. The EP features work from multiple producers, with executive production by SYBLYNG, a Detroit producer Sam trusted to help bring all the pieces together. Sam also worked with Director Nico Poalillo and Videographer Ben Webber to release a series of short videos encapsulating the story and emotion of each song. The cover, photographed by Flint Eastwood and painted by Ellen Rutt, provides further representation for Sam’s feelings of angst.

Sam recalls having the idea for the painting and working with Ellen to bring it to fruition. He was initially very hands-on, focused on following his exact vision. However, as he saw the painting come to life he became receptive to altering his idea of the concept. Collaboration has proven key for Sam’s success. He likes to bring people in the room who have ideas, and he’s good at articulating what he doesn’t like in such a way that expands the vision and prompts new possibilities.

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I'm a hard critic, but I know what I want "

“I’m a hard critic, but I know what I want. I feel like there’s always some doper stuff. I feel like somebody can come with great ideas that I may not have thought about so I want to hear them and see if it lines up with what I want. I ask for opinions a lot because I care about what the people around me think. Not saying that it’s the end all be all, but I definitely like to hear what people think, I’m very open to ideas and opinions"

Vision can be a hard thing to elaborate, and bringing in outside perspectives helps bring them to fruition. Sam works best this way, but he hasn’t always been fortunate enough to work with such a strong team.

There was a time in Sam’s life where he felt no sense of direction. People would often tell him what he should do but couldn’t provide any solution or wouldn’t be willing to join him on that next step forward. With no money to eat or pay the bills, Sam was making major sacrifices for music, but couldn’t seem to find any movement.

“I had to learn to be more careful with my time and what I put my energy into and to try my best to keep making good choices. If you’re the smartest person in the room, you gotta get out that room".

Sam started branching out with other producers, exploring different sounds. New connections blossomed to quality projects,  and before long Sam found himself in the same room as artists like Big Sean, even receiving praise from fashion icon Phillip Lim during a trip to New York. On that same trip Sam linked up with production duo Take a Daytrip and created FIJI. It’s a playful song that showcases Sam’s talent as a well-rounded artist. While Sam loves exploring his feelings, it’s important to understand his ability to have fun and enjoy himself too.

When asked about some of his current struggles, Sam doesn’t ponder over money or relationships, he’s focused solely on the music. He wants to find new ways to articulate how he feels and innovate his craft. He’s eager to challenge himself and explore deeper meaning in his work. Sam is currently writing new music and rehearsing for live shows. He aims to create a cinematic experience that will be reminisced for weeks. While nothing has been released to the public yet, Sam is expected to takeover several performances throughout the next year.

As Sam anxiously looks towards the next chapter of his life, he remembers how important it is to be patient. He’s learning how to set short term goals and work towards a long term vision. He spends most of his days in one of Detroit’s most innovative and collaborative spaces, Assemble Sound, where he has an entire team supporting his work and helping him grow. Sam has all the elements for success in today’s landscape for emerging artists. For Sam it’s not a question of how, but when, and with all things considered there’s no doubt about it, Sam Austins is destined for greatness.