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The 99% Podcast Episode #28 With Glass Battles

Singer-songwriter Sean Augustine A.K.A Glass Battles, is an emerging artist tearing up the L.A. music scene with a unique form of Pop. With his dark and sensual vibe, Glass Battles is a champion with Spooky Pop which holds notes of electro and rock. His single “Lime Green” has been a recurring favorite of Steereo’s Top Ten tracks and charting playlists. The single is surely turning heads as it’s been featured in Spotify’s Release Radar playlist and currently streams on their Dark, Dreamy, Hypnotic playlist. Never afraid to embrace himself, his music highlights this as well as a shared intimacy with his listeners. In this exclusive 99% Podcast episode, Glass Battles sit down with Steereo to discuss his artistic view, insights on his single, and more.

Listen and Read Glass Battles’ 99% Podcast Interview: 


Steereo: Welcome to the 99% Podcast


Sean:

Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.


Steereo: Glass Battles, we’re very excited to have you in person today.


Sean:

Absolutely, I’m excited to be here.


Steereo: Your track “Lime Green,” has been blowing up on Steereo.


Sean:

Yeah, absolutely. The reception’s been great. Honestly, it’s amazing to see it within an exciting forum like Steereo is. The audience is amazing, the community’s great. You guys have been such a good support system, so it’s been awesome. I really appreciate it.


Steereo: Thank you for gracing us with your talents.


Sean:

You’re very welcome.


[00:42] Steereo:  So, “Lime Green”. If you were to put yourself into a genre, what would it be?


Sean:

Well, I think the genre that I’m going with, or the one that means the most to me, would be just something like Spook Pop because of all of my songs. I mean spooky, to me, is a term that I use to delineate between a lot of feelings. The way I produce, a lot of minor chords, a lot of it’s used typically in the past, like 1970s sci-fi, that kind of thing. But, I think a lot of really deep emotions have a spooky element like sentimentality can. You’re thinking about things that no longer exist. I think that’s kind of a spooky feeling, and I think that “Lime Green” kind of falls more onto the darker end of the spooky spectrum. So, it’s more of a mood, it’s a feeling, and it’s something that I try to create as a through-line creatively with all of my songs.


Steereo: Amazing. I think in the current landscape that we live in, a lot of our day-to-day goings on, are quite spooky, especially when you live in Los Angeles, and you’re in the music industry, and you’re trying to make it as an independent artist. There can be spooky times, and I think it’s nice that you describe your music that way.


Sean:

Yeah, I think the prevalence of dance music even in just sub-genres like house and pop, and everything, initially I feel like there was an impetus to just have a fun time by the pool, which is amazing, but I want to at least bring a different perspective to that umbrella genre, because it’s nice to have that kind of variety. It’s is more authentic to me, I guess.


Steereo: It’s ironic that we’re by the pool, having so much fun today.


Sean:

This is my favorite place. Right, and I’m appropriately wearing a sweater.


Steereo: Yeah, perfect. Always stay on brand.


Sean:

Subverting everything, yes.


[02:31] Steereo: So talking about brands, Steereo champions independent or emerging artists. I think the new way of doing things is you need to act as a CEO of your own career.


Sean:

Of course, yeah.

 

Steereo: When you hear the word brand, or a social media, or content, do these conjure up fear in your …? Or, is it something you’re excited to be part of? Do you wish that was never a conversation that we needed to have?


[03:04] Sean:

No. I think honestly, because of my specific generation, we were at the beginning of social media in the internet and that type of thing, so it always started off as an exciting thing. It was something I was engaged in before I did music. Obviously, as a creative, I wish that version of marketing didn’t have to be a part of it, but it’s not something that I resent, and I really enjoy it. 

I think honestly, it’s just a way, just a new forum, to present yourself either visually, and there’s just so many avenues you can use to express yourself. I think that’s really important as an artist, because the market right now is saturated with artists. I think in order for you to stand out, you really have to have a strong sense of what you want to present artistically, and how you want to express yourself in a social way, and even some people are more political, and that type of thing.


Steereo: Amazing. For you, breaking into the music industry initially, what were some of the setbacks and some of the lessons that you learned, because obviously people tuning-in, maybe at the start of their career. What were some of the things that you found difficult, initially?

Photo Via Facebook


[04:29] Sean:

Basically when this started, almost nearly a decade ago, I just was like, “I’m going to be in a band,” and I had this idea in my head. Even from the beginning, I have a lot of supportive friends, but I know to present that to them, it was just like, “Of course you are, Sean.” Then I taught myself the production programs. I found musicians through Craigslist. I found an amazing partner, her name is Tanya. She sang with me as well, and we built this project together. So, because we were a heavily pop-influenced band, and because we were brand new, a lot of people just don’t take you seriously. There’s like a certain amount of dues some people just need to see you go through, in order to be like, “Oh, yeah, you guys are awesome,” but we had a great reception. I always find myself a little left of center, and that’s tough because it doesn’t feel right for me to do exactly whatever everybody else is doing. Sometimes, that’s the easier way too, but I’d rather take the tough path and actually cement a projection of authenticity. But I think so the biggest challenges were just really standing our ground on certain things and just pushing forward. I’m super-stubborn, so that’s the reason why even for 10 years, I’ve still been pushing this because to me longitudinal consistency is key. If you want to make it in this industry because there’s so many people that are going to tell you, you’re a longitudinal consistency. As I was saying that, I was like, this could be a difficult thing to get. But I think as an artist, you really … If you want it to happen for you, you’re going to be told that your music’s bad. You’re going to be told that you’re not that great of a performer. You’re going to be told that other people would be better with your music. Or, at least I was, not everybody. Some people don’t have that experience, but you just have to … As cliché as it is, you to have that strong belief system that you are good enough, and this is something that will mean something to other people. That’s the thing I always keep in mind, whenever I do anything with it.


Steereo: So in layman’s terms, it’s blinkered on.

 

Sean:

Oh, absolutely. Just stay in your lane. Just remember what you’re doing.


Steereo: Stay in your lane. You heard it here folks, stay in your lane.


Sean:

Stay in your lane.


Steereo: I need a t-shirt that says, “Stay in your lane.” We need one of them for Steereo.


Sean:

That’s perfect, yeah.

 

Steereo: So you just spoke a little bit about how people will tell you, you’re not good enough, other artists should do your music, your performance wasn’t where it needed to be, your song’s not commercial enough, or pop-y enough, or dark enough, or spooky enough, or whatever bullshit they can come up with, right?


Sean:

Exactly, yeah.


Steereo: Well, what do you think is the true thing that makes an artist have star quality, because they talk about this all the time, in terms have you got the X-Factor, and all these big shows. What do you think that component actually is?


Sean: 

That’s a good question. I think the component for me, and for other artists, I think when you … I can’t remember where I saw this. It’s very simple, but it’s just everybody has their strengths. So, no matter who you are, no matter what field you’re in, there’s this specific strength that you have, that’s inherent to yourself. I feel like in the world of artistry, in the world of creativity, I think a lot of people try to squeeze themselves into boxes they don’t necessarily belong in. And, I think that when you actually let that ego stuff go and you know what your strengths are, that confidence is what comes through as charisma, and that charisma is what lends itself to people seeing you, and as a star or whatever, because there’s that inherent leadership quality when you’re that in-tune with what you have to bring to the table.


Steereo: Amazing. Does Glass Battles have the X-Factor?


Sean:

I would hope so. After ten years, I certainly think so in some version of my brain.


Steereo: Well us here at Steereo definitely feel that Glass Battles have the X-Factor.


Sean:

Thank you so much.

 

[08:34] Steereo: All right, so let’s do a little bit of a deep dive into you and your past. Where did you grow up? What’s your background, so people can get to know you as an artist.


Sean:

Certainly. I’m from Western Massachusetts, from Berkshire County, Pittsfield, to be exact. It’s like a smaller city about three hours west of Boston. Grew up there my entire life. All my family’s there, essentially, and I moved out to Los Angeles about 13 years ago. Dropped out of college, and I was like, “I’m going to be an artist,” which was much to my parents’ chagrin, so … So, thank you for your support Mom and Dad, but … Then over the years, I just found my footing in San Diego, and then moved up to Los Angeles. I’ve always beenartistically inclined, I would say. I used to play saxophone, I was in a marching band, and all that kind of stuff. I was a super, marching band dork, jazz band dork, and then … But I’ve always been obsessed with pop music. I’ve always been obsessed with the blending of genres. My favorite group of all time is Garbage because I feel like they’ve always blurred the lines between genres, and that to me is everything. Los Angeles has been a really interesting experience because you’re surrounded by so many people that all want similar things, that are so vastly different with their skill sets available. I basically just try to push and hustle myself since I’ve been here. In the ethereal sense, obviously.


Steereo: We don’t get behind that here, at Steereo.


Sean:

Right, that’s the reality behind the music, there, but for me, it’s just been reflecting back, when you live in a city like this, and you try to take care of everything yourself. It’s a real retrospective thing to see how much that you’ve actually done for yourself, so I’ve been self-sufficient. I think that’s part of just circling back to being from the East Coast. That’s like you earn what you get through hard work. Nothing’s ever been handed to me. So, my life mantra is if you want something, you have to work for it.


Steereo: Yeah, but also people from the outside look at it like, “Oh, my God, Glass Battles or Keith Cullen, they’ve made it. They’re in L.A., they’re living the life of their dreams.” Do you think there is an element of selling your soul a little bit, when you move here? Have you encountered that, in terms of artistry? Have people expected you to mold yourself in a different way?

 

Sean:

I think I have experienced that, yeah. Short answer, because it’s … I, luckily, have been able to maneuver around that to a point to where I am now. I don’t know what the next stages of my career will take, and what sacrifices I will make. Obviously selling my soul will not necessarily be on the table, but as far as changes, everybody has an opinion. Everybody has their idea of what is going to be successful, and I think it comes from a place of lack, for some people, because some people who wanted to be an artist are now working behind the scenes, and they want to push their agenda.


Steereo: They’re usually rude sound engineers.


Sean: 

Oh, right. Exactly, yeah. Then there are people just trying to help, but they’re looking at it really myopically. They’ve seen this work, so that’s the only way that works for them in their head. So yeah, I’ve gotten that a lot. Luckily, I’ve also just really liked genres that are typically received as popular anyways. I’m never like, “I don’t want to be a pop artist.”


[12:40] Steereo: You just announced the title of your album. Do you want to tell people what that is?


Sean:

Sure, so this album’s going to be out in 2019, probably early in the year. It’s called Witchcraft, and it’s my debut album.


Steereo: Amazing. Where did that concept come from?


Sean:

Well, the entire album is basically that I have two speeds as an artist, or at least I do at the moment. Where, what I’m presenting on this album, a lot of my stuff can be very dark and on the sexier, spookier side. The other side of it is this ethereal, uplifting type of thing, as well. A lot of production I’m using is very sharp, electronic production. Some of it is glitch production. Some of it is dub, and that type of thing, and different pop genres.

But for me, it’s also centered around my fascination with the occult. My fascination with aliens, ghosts. There was this podcast I used to listen to all the time, when we would drive the south by southwest every year, called Coast To Coast. Basically, it was like conspiracy theories, aliens, and whatever, and that’s always been something that I love. I’m that dork that watches Ancient Aliens, and I’m thinking, “Aliens did build the pyramids.” So for me, this is just like a playful look at everything, and it’s just kind of a weird album. I feel like it’s … Witchcraft, to me, is a perfect word as a descriptor for how it feels putting this album together. To me, it’s like musically casting the spell, and that for me is just like a cornerstone of what I wanted people to draw from that.


Steereo: That’s awesome. One question we ask everybody is, when people jump into one of their ride chairs and they listen one of your tracks, whether it be Lime Green, or when this album gets released, what is it you, as an artist, are trying to make them feel?


Sean:

I think because “Lime Green” is on one of Steereo’s main playlists at the moment, I think I want people to feel like just super, super, cool. I just want them to feel like … I want it to be one of those nights. You’ve had a few drinks, you’re on your way to a party in the hills or something. You’re looking out the window, and you’re like, “Yeah.” I’m thinking, I just want it to be something that really supports an awesome mood. I never want to really drag people down to a dark, dark, place, to where they’re just like tears sometimes, but good tears.


Steereo: That’s my ammo

.
Sean: 

Exactly.


Steereo: I’m all about the violence and the tears.


Sean: 

That’s good though, that’s good. I mean, you have to represent. I think that’s necessary too.


Steereo: You’re for the evening shift, I’m for more of the morning vibes.


Sean:

Exactly, the sad, morning after. 


Steereo: Perfect. Well, what are some of the exciting things coming up for you in the next couple of months? Do you want to share, and also let people know where they can find all your awesome music and social media visual treasures.


Sean:

Yeah, my visual treasures. Glass Battles is basically my name on all social media, so you can find me on Instagram. I don’t really tweet. Every once-in-a-while you’ll see a really lazy version of an Instagram post that I forget and post a week later-


Steereo: Like all of us.


Sean:

I’m on Facebook as well.  But exciting stuff, I’m playing the Sayers Club for the first time on October 18th, at 10:30, which is awesome because we used to go there all the time. When it was a full band, and we used to go see Semi-Precious Weapons. We saw them there a few times, because Tanya, the girl that I sing with, and then Ashley, my bassist at the time, were obsessed with them. So we’d always go, and we were, “How are we going to play there?” So, it’s been nice. That was a very small, but nice, full circle from years ago type of thing, so I’m super excited. The sound there is amazing, and I’m going to be live-debuting the second single there as well, which I projected will come out the following day, but we will see because I tend to do that. Where, I’m like, “We’re putting it out tomorrow,” and it’s like 2020, and I haven’t even recorded it yet, so.


Steereo: Awesome. It’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on the 99%.

Watch the In-Person 99% Podcast Interview With Glass Battles Below:

 

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Kai McDaniel is a Los Angeles-based writer, lover of entertainment, art, and film.