Bio“Art must be a matter of life and death – otherwise it’s not art“ is Louie´s sincere conviction. One thing the Viennese Electro-crooner doesn’t go for is doing things by half. Whatever he does is done with his fullest commitment – and often regardless of the consequences. Admittedly, this reckless attitude has given him some serious troubles time and again. And yet it also made him what he is today: a man who finds himself an upcoming and sought-after artist whose career hasn’t yet reached its climax.
There’s a lot going on in Louie Austen’s life. Touring all around the globe, a “Best Of“-album on English label Tirk Records, and a part as a singer in the Salzburg Festival’s new production of Nestroy’s “Höllenangst“, as a member of the Viennese “Burgtheater”. As for autumn his new studio album will be released. That it will be exciting is virtually guaranteed by the fact that Austen was recently signed by the best Austrian Electro-label, internationally renowned Klein Records.
Time for a flashback. In 1999, the bustling Viennese Electro scene gives birth to a new and surprising idea. A Viennese electronic producer contrasts his experimental electronic tracks with Louie Austen’s velvety voice. He had run into the classic jazz crooner in a studio and immediately proposed a collaboration.
Austen, then 53 years old, had already led an eventful life in various parts of the world and could look back on an equally eventful performing career. After immigrating to South Africa and Australia he had performed in clubs and on stages in New York, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas during the 70s. After his return to Vienna, the crooner entertained the guests at the Klimt-Bar of the Vienna Hilton before he took over the entire entertainment for the Marriott Hotel. A safe job and well paid, too. Additionally, Austen wrote and produced shows like “Viva Las Vegas“ or “American Superstars“, played parts in several movies and toured both Europe and the USA with show programmes.
Yet Austen is intrigued by the electronic beats and sounds of the young generation. When the first album “Consequences“ (1999) is well received in the club scene and the first concerts turn out promising, Louie makes a courageous decision. “I decided there and then to resign from all other jobs and to completely dedicate myself to this new project for a period of two years“, he recalls. “I reflected that, if I’d find myself in the street after those two years, I’d have to go back to my old jobs. But I wanted to try out this new direction under all circumstances – I simply had to.“
It was a decision that was true to the nature of a man who sees himself as always searching and filled with a childlike curiosity. Who is always ready to accept new challenges and gladly accepts the fact that not all of them can pay off. But Austen simply abhors routines and artistic stagnation. “To try something new every single day – that’s what keeps me alert and on the ball, young and active.“ Naturally Austen wasn’t prepared to terminate the experiment after two years. Instead he collaborated with Viennese electronics pioneers on two more albums, “Only Tonight“ (2001) and “Easy Love“ (2003). Austen appreciates that his involvement with electronic music was a stroke of luck for him. “A very special phase of my career began when I was 53“, he gratefully acknowledges, “from which my life has enormously benefited over the last years, since I can perform my own songs and find an audience for them.” His new music allows Austen a transformation from a pure entertainer, who assumes the roles of those he pays tribute to, into an artist in his own right, no less. “I’m quite grateful for having followed my instincts back then, despite the fact that some of my friends tried to dissuade me“, he says retrospectively. Part of Louie Austen’s appeal lies in the fact that he has not entirely discarded the entertainer in this metamorphosis. He brought many things along for the ride, and his know-how of how to entertain with verve and how to put on a great show, his charm and charisma, and the style of the urbane entertainer he had cultivated so long serve him equally well in the electronic underground. He is a mediator who mixes various genres, some of which were previously regarded as incompatible. For several years now he has managed to resolve alleged contradictions and break down prejudices – jazz and dance beats, advanced age and youth culture, smart style and underground. “In a way I stand for a kind of reconciliation“, he describes his unique position, “a bridge between old and new or between young and old.“ And indeed, Louie Austen does have a talent for bridging differences, which makes his role in the music business all the more important. And that’s not all – Louie Austen even has the ability to dispel existential angst. “Now that I’ve seen you“, so many young people tell him after a show, “I’m no longer afraid of growing old.“ It’s hard indeed to imagine a better compliment than that.