Music moves at blistering speeds, but so do career-changing opportunities. When Detroit's Sam Austins got the call that he had been handpicked by Pusha-T to be part of the 1800 Seconds album with 1800 Tequila, it was the flurry of the moment that let him know this massive opportunity was real. "When I got that call, it felt so quick to the point where I was like, 'Oh, this is real,'" he tells me over the phone.
"I’m a big G.O.O.D. Music person," he continues. "My whole upbringing is off listening to Kanye, Push, and [Big] Sean. Hearing that Push was interested in having me be a part of this collective is really, really dope."
Clearly a grateful and optimistic cat, Austins applies that same energy to his music. His 1800 Seconds track, "Motivation," is a melody-driven anthem for anyone looking to level up and change their situation for the better.
"I go into every song with 'Each record can change my life,' so I put the best effort in, regardless of where it’s going," he tells me of his creative process. "I have a very good ear for quality, and that’s what I brought to the table. I wanted to bring that youth energy, something meaningful, and something fresh."
For the average artist, working with Pusha-T and nine other creatives would summon an immense pressure, but Sam Austins apparently thrives under the gun. He saw the imminent pressure as something he can and will overcome, and the music reflects as much.
As for his next moves, Sam Austins sees each career step as equally important to the last. The important note is to keep moving forward, to keep leveling up and improving the artistry. "Each step is a step for me," he explains. "I’ve done little things and big things, and all of them are important in the same way. But this is very important for the culture, and I’m glad to be a part of that."
DJBooth's full interview with Sam Austins, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: When did 1800 reach out to you initially?
Sam Austins: I got contacted about it through a homie that works closely with Pusha-T’s team and Def Jam. But, it all happened so fast. I was out in LA working on music at a Universal Music Publishing camp, which was kind of connected. It was all happening at the same time with that. When I got that call, it felt so quick to the point where I was like, “Oh, this is real.”
What does it mean to have been handpicked for this record?
I’m a big G.O.O.D. Music person. My whole upbringing is off listening to Kanye, Push, and Sean. Hearing that Push was interested in having me be a part of this collective is really, really dope.
How would you define the energy you bring to the album?
When it came to adding my flavor to the project, it was more so about me making the best Sam Austins record that I can for this project. I go into every song with “Each record can change my life,” so I put the best effort in, regardless of where it’s going. I have a very good ear for quality, and that’s what I brought to the table. I wanted to bring that youth energy, something meaningful, and something fresh.
You had to make a big impact in a short time frame. Any pressure?
Pressure, for me, is what I said about having every song having that intent. I don’t ever go in with a rushed feel, or get shook up. I move at my pace, where I just do things naturally. That was the thing for me: making sure everything was natural. The pressure is all about overcoming it. Just keeping making the best music I can.
How do you get inspired when you’re not in the studio?
Listening to a lot of music. When I need to get inspiration, I just take time to sit back and analyze a lot of different things. I take my time with each song that I do, to the point where I feel like it’s all a part of my DNA. I’m in the studio every single day, and when I’m not in the studio, it’s me processing and living what story I’m trying to tell. I do a lot of research on current things going on, a lot of research on art and entertainment. I’m big on that and being ahead.
Doing all that research, what’s the best way to connect with a fan?
For me, what I do is naturally do what I wanna hear. I don’t wanna ever conform to what I think is hot, it’s more so I just know what sounds good and I try to always bring that to make the best track that I can. Each one, they have to be unique to come together and make my own DNA. The fans will just come and be part of the journey to see me grow.
What’s more important, one strong first impression, or consistently dropping music?
If you have your presentation right and you know what you’re doing with it… Nowadays, you don’t even have to have the presentation right. I care about that, but most other artists go with that viral sensation type thing. It’s dope because things just pop instantly. Social media takes control of everything, there are a lot of different ways you can go about [your career].
Where does this opportunity with 1800 rank in terms of career milestones?
It’s all individual steps. I put weight on things, but I don’t let it… I just keep going. Each step is a step for me. I’ve done little things and big things, and all of them are important in the same way. But this is very important for the culture, and I’m glad to be a part of that.
How do you plan on using this opportunity to your advantage? What comes next?
Dropping new music! This is just another step in the path, and I’m really excited for people to hear what I got going on and bringing that energy to the city of Detroit.