By: Kaia Femenías
After his appearance at the Aggie Theatre during his tour with psychedelic trance group Infected Mushroom, there was no plausible way for me to avoid delving further into the mind of such a talented musician. Prior to Infected Mushroom’s set on January 12th, the New Jersey electronic musician Au5 (Austin Collins) took the crowd on a unique set that bounced between emotionally melodic tunes and bass grinding drops, creating a paradoxically beautiful soundscape I had to learn more about. I was fortunate enough to get a glimpse into the mind of Au5 to see exactly how the masterpiece was created.
Kaia: How would you describe your sound?
Au5: Emotive, melodically-driven electronic music.
Kaia: In conjunction to the music, what do you think creates a good atmosphere for a concert to occur? What other elements of performance are important to you?
Au5: A receptive, open-minded audience is the most important element aside from the music itself. I feel that a performance is not only comprised of what happens on the stage but the engagement between the performer and the crowd. The crowd feeds off the energy of the performer, and vice versa. When everyone is in flow and in it together, there is no separation between us and them. We become one entity, a self-perpetuating dynamo.
Kaia: When you walk onto the stage and begin to play, how do you gauge what you want the audience to hear?
Au5: There is no real gauge of what the audience wants to hear. However, I can usually get a sense of how receptive the crowd is going to be based on how they are responding to the music before me. If the crowd seems unreceptive or cold, I will start out with something more chill and feel out where to go as the night progresses. If the crowd is already warmed up I will usually hit them with a bunch of high-energy styles, then determine what to play based off of which of the styles they are most receptive to. After being in a flow with the crowd for a while, I can usually play whatever I want and they will stay synchronized to my vibe.
Kaia: How has stage performance challenged you as an artist? Do you enjoy it? Was it intimidating initially?
Au5: Performing on stage is something I have done my entire life since I was 5, so I am fairly comfortable in the limelight. However, exuding stage presence and comfortably engaging with the crowd is something that took me a while to grow into. Performing as Au5 was the first time I really expressed the genuine and unrestrained side of me. Putting your true self out there for all to see and experience is an intimidating and vulnerable experience, albeit a fulfilling one. After doing it for many years, I still sometimes feel nervousness, yet mixed with excitement. Usually, after an introduction and playing the first song, I feel very comfortable and it’s often one of the most exhilarating experiences in my life.
Kaia: Music conveys a certain idea, mood, or timbre to its listeners. To what/where is the mood or “place” you want to bring your listeners?
I want to bring people on a journey that is both familiar, yet unique and unexpected. Just as life is not one emotion, I like to create a setting which is constantly changing, moving through a spectrum of vibes and colors throughout my set as well as throughout each song I write. I strive to break the boundary of the feelings that are possible for music to evoke in people. Something that makes people get in touch with parts of themselves previously unaware of, something truly psychedelic.
Kaia: Do you enjoy performing in any particular geographic locations? How does performing in your home territory of the East compare to the West Coast?
Au5: I don’t really have a particular geographic location that I prefer performing at. Most of my gigs are indoors anyway, and my preference over one location over another depends on the people of the city I’m playing in. Asheville, DC, Denver, LA, Milwaukee, and Paris were my most memorable and favorite cities to play because of the receptivity I’ve gotten from the people. Though I must say, playing Motion Notion Fest in the mountains of Golden, BC has to have been the most elating and enjoyable events of my life. It was utopian, I’d relive that event every weekend for the rest of my life if I could.
Au5 will continue to tour with Infected Mushroom throughout the US for the duration of their “Return to the Sauce” tour. C