By J. Dracman
It’s a true dream moment when a musician watches a movie and hears their music on the soundtrack. It’s an even bigger dream moment when the artist gets to have their music shared worldwide as part of a cult icon. A once in a lifetime experience really!
Australian singer/songwriter, PENELOPE AUSTIN got to experience this when her song ‘The Dark Collide’, written with fellow songwriter/producer Robert Conley, featured as part of the latest Star Trek film, ‘Into Darkness.’ Austin and Conley are also currently working on her new album, and have experienced a great deal as an Australian artist based in the US. I guess firstly, is Penelope a Star Trek fan? She answers, “I am now! I hadn’t really thrown myself into the sci-fi world before this opportunity came along but had always been quite curious. The fact that my first experience with Star Trek was through a collaboration with JJ Abrams is thrilling. The visuals and effects had me in an instant – greatly anticipating the next instalment!”
And the feeling of getting to record a song for a major motion picture? Penelope responded, “Initially it was just tunnel vision. Eye on the prize. There was an opportunity, a brief and a crazy time restriction. It was very surreal. Once the track was finished I had a moment to appreciate the extravagance of the opportunity and it was overwhelming – and wonderful. To be involved with such a creative group of people was beyond euphoric and am still very appreciative of the entire experience.”
The road leading to an opportunity like this, included spending time in the US honing her art, and one has to wonder about the challenges of being an Australian artist trying to make a mark in the overseas market. “There are so many incredibly talented artists over here and the competition is beyond. But it’s a huge driving force for me. The US has helped me maintain that roar in my belly. This place generates creativity – I find everyone to be super supportive of one another and that’s really encouraging. The opportunity here is wild and it’s definitely something I thrive on,” Austin enthusiastically responds.
So from here, how is the album shaping? “It’s difficult at times because I think I have finalised the tracks then along comes another one that I love and we’re reassessing the whole project over! My EP, ‘The Beautiful Dark’ is out on iTunes, which I am incredibly excited about.”
Penelope also collaborates with fellow songwriter/producer, Robert Conley and I wondered about the experience shared working together. Austin responds, “Robert and I are so in sync it could almost be considered shocking! We have been working together for many, many years both in Australia and Internationally. We are aware of each other’s thoughts on things just through a look – which is unreal in a creative environment. It takes away any awkwardness should one of us disagree on something! He’s one of the most talented producers/song writers I’ve ever worked with.”
Every artist has their pros and cons about being in the studio. Penelope shares, “I don’t think there are any cons?! The studio is definitely a safe haven for me – a creative space without any judgmental eyes. Its home.”
And on the topic of song writing, it has been said that Penelope is influenced by the elements, to which I had to ask about curiously. Penelope reflects, “It’s not a conscious decision, but I think the dynamic nature of the elements fits with my music. Fire, Water, Wind…all can be so peaceful, quiet and precious and then in an instance they can make the earth move. They are both bitter and sweet. I feel a lot of the time with my music the instrumentation sounds peaceful – eloquent and silent. Yet the words are quite confronting. I think ultimately that’s why I’m drawn to writing about them – they scare me.”
And on visual inspiration? “Landscapes. That was the first thing that came to mind when you asked that question but then I saw fire. I think what inspires me is something peaceful like a desert lit up by the night sky with something disastrous. It’s kind of funny because I’m not a very dramatic person in everyday life but what I write about and the visuals I see in my mind are epic. Perhaps that’s why I’m so relaxed on the outside because my mind is crazy overactive! I often think if Spielberg or JJ could see into one of my dreams we’d have a potential blockbuster. Extreme.
The great thing about Penelope is her passion for creativity and expressionism in its purest form, and every great artist has a special feeling when it comes to performing music, which Penelope shares, “For a long time I was frightened to perform. I began writing at an early age to communicate what was really going on inside of me. A truth that I wasn’t even that comfortable sharing with myself. It’s taken many years to embrace the stage and I think that comes with growing up and embracing yourself. I always found it quite confronting sharing intimate stories unsure if whether people would judge them. Now however – it’s my fuel! Before I get on stage I still get nervous – I still have to remember to breathe… But what’s changed now is when I get up there – I forget everything and I charge!”