“I started writing because I felt like it was all I had; it was all I was good at and it was really all I knew how to do,” says 21-year-old singer, songwriter and producer Austin Lam. The Atlanta, Georgia native’s lushly emotive style of alt-R&B, though experimental in spirit, also pays homage to soulful traditions set forth by iconic singers like Marvin Gaye. In fact, Austin counts the Motown legend amongst his strongest influences, crafting lyrics that encompass the timelessly poetic ethos of an older generation of crooners. A self-described loner, Austin immersed himself in music at an early age with the help of his father, a longtime musician and perennial member of local bands. After taking up the guitar at the age of six, the young Austin gained visibility through various stints in reggae and punk rock bands.
It wasn’t until after high school graduation he began seriously laying the groundwork to make music a full-time career. While many of his friends embarked on more traditional journeys, Austin landed at The School of Audio Engineering where he received a degree, along with enough equipment to build an at-home studio. It was there he began re-appropriating the smooth R&B, jazz and So Cal reggae influences of his childhood into sultry, lovelorn lyrics backed by atmospheric instrumentals of his own creation. Soon after, he began performing as a solo artist in showcases and music venues around Atlanta, drawing the attention of local talent scouts.
Austin forthcoming EP, Neon Sunset, is a study in soulful, avant R&B that introduces the artist as an introspective lyricist with a keen understanding of the fragility of the human condition. “Neon Sunset encapsulates a man who gave his all and was given nothing in return,” he explains. “I prioritized love very early on in life, often to the detriment of myself.”