I ain't good at a lot of things, but I'm damn good at reading a room and Austin Burke is just a genuine dude who loves his job and what he gets to do day in and day out. I'm thankful for guys like Austin who not only take a chance on me and UPstar. Music, but are willing to open up and show who they really are. I sat down with Austin and talked about how being in the spotlight as a child and falling out of love for baseball led him to Nashville, his single "Let It Burn" and the people who have significantly impacted his career thus far.
Get To Know Austin
"I'm born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona. I learned the National Anthem when I was two years old. My dad started to film me singing the National Anthem at a young age and next thing I know, I'm singing the National Anthem for the Phoenix Suns, the Arizona Diamondbacks and all the Arizona teams. Then Rosie O'Donnell reached out, she wanted me to do her show. I was always a big fan of Country Music and Garth Brooks, so when I was on her show I sang "Friends in Low Places". When I was young I did a lot of traveling and singing, doing appearances and was even in a movie. Disney wanted me to move out to LA and be a "Disney Kid". That was the moment I lost my love for all of that and just wanted to be a kid. I remember one time specifically, when I wanted to stay over at a friend's house, but had to be up early for an appearance. I told my dad "I'm done". I wanted to play baseball and enjoy my childhood and not be singing everywhere. I basically quit singing until I was 18 and then got back into it."
A Painful Past Leads To Touching Song
Country Music has always been known for its storytelling and ability to touch on deep topics that make you feel something. 10 years ago, "Let It Burn" was a song that Austin Burke never thought he would write, let alone release. The song grew from inspiration due to his parents divorce. It turned out to be a song that struck a chord with many who have lived through this tough life experience. Austin's music has always been very appealing, with his captivating sound that flows from the beginning to end of the song and pulls the listener in. Not only is this a very deep and personal song about a topic that's not easy to talk about, but Austin takes it to a new level by writing a song about the experience and putting it out to the world. When you take a deep listen to the lyrics, you understand the mature approach and perspective of how this song is written. It has you stepping back into a difficult situation and realizing that even though it isn't easy, the person who was once your whole world deserves to be happy again. And they will be happy with someone that brings them that feeling you once shared, no matter how much it hurts. A damn good one from Austin Burke.
Inspiration Behind "Let It Burn"
Written By: Austin Burke, Steve McMorran & Johnny Simmen, Produced By: Brandon Day
"I wrote "Let It Burn” with Johnny Simmen and Max Gabriel. When I wrote it, I took a lot of inspiration from my parents’ divorce. I moved to Nashville at 19 years old. My mom drove me 24 hours from San Diego to Nashville and didn't say anything about the divorce the whole ride there. She dropped me off on a Saturday and the following Friday filed for divorce from my dad. It really messed with me. I was in Nashville by myself and my siblings were back at home dealing with it. It was really hard on me mentally and I was unable to write about their divorce for 6 years. I got married in December of 2019, so going into 2020, I believed that I really needed to go to therapy and deal with the divorce because I hadn't before. I went to a therapist and talked about it and felt like I was in a good place to deal with these issues of my parents divorce. I wanted to write about it from both my parents perspective and what they were going through. I've put it on Tik Tok and Instagram and It's been cool to see the responses of people who've been affected by divorce. I found that half of people get divorced, meaning 50% of marriages fail. I primarily write love songs so it's been cool to see one of my songs that's not a love song connect with and get respected by people."
Q & A With Austin Burke
Q: What was that "lightbulb" moment when you knew you wanted to pursue music?
A: "When I was in college we had an early morning baseball practice, nobody was in the dorms. I was in my room alone since there were only the baseball players there. I had the whole dorm to myself and I thought to myself "what am I doing? I'm not having fun, this isn't enjoyable. I don't love it like I used to...". At that point my whole life was about being a left handed pitcher. I picked up a guitar, started playing a few chords and began singing songs I was listening to. A kid in the dorm came up to me a few weeks later, once school started. He was a rapper and asked if I wanted to sing on one of his tracks. I did that and was having so much fun. My wife Lexy was living in LA at the time and knew I didn't want to be in LA. I always loved Country Music, had never been to the south or Nashville, but I had an overwhelming urge to move there. I pretty much just saved up some money and told my parents I was going to do it. A lot of people said I was an idiot, but I moved with $650. I didn't know anyone in Nashville but just followed my gut."
Q: What's one of your biggest failures that you look back on and are very appreciative of?
A: "I definitely would say not signing a record deal. I think that's something I still want to do. I guess you could call it a “failure” though I'm glad I haven't signed one yet. In two instances, I've been in rooms with the head of a record label. As I'm sitting there, I was told the label was going to sign me but they didn’t. I feel like I've been let down so many times. Every label in town has told me no at some point. Even so, I'm happy I haven't signed one yet, because it has given me a perspective of Nashville and artists who are independent. A lot of artists don't see that perspective. I'm hoping there comes a time where a label makes sense and it all works out for me. Until then I'm happy to be independent, be an advocate and say "hey, you can do a lot on your own, make it far and be successful in this town". "
Q: Who are some of the first people you met in Nashville who have influenced your career?
A: "I'd say the first person is a songwriter who I write with all the time. She's an upcoming songwriter named Ava Suppelsa. I've put out a lot of the songs that I've written with her. Ava is someone I connected with early because of her ability to know who I am. She knew who I was as an artist before I did.
Another influential person is Brandon Day, my producer. I met him early on. He has changed my sound, the way that people hear me and who I am as an artist.
There are other people that have been a big part of my life. Thomas Rhett gave me my first publishing deal and believed in me before a lot of people did. Vince Gill had me play at the Ryman with him and is someone who gave me chances that I probably didn't deserve.
Also, John Marks gave me a shot on Spotify and Storme Warren gave me a shot on The Highway. I owe a lot to those six people who have helped me over the last 5 years."
Q: What's some of the best advice you've ever been given?
A: "Last year I was having a hard time, not unusual, especially for newer artists. A lot of the venues we play closed down and touring was down as well. It was harder to get on playlists and things got smaller and harder to be a part of as an independent artist. I had a conversation with Thomas Rhett last year when I was having a bad day. He told me "you have to wake up everyday and ask God, do you still want me to do this?" To me, someone at that level wakes up everyday and says that says a lot. It demonstrated to me it's not always about looking at the end goal, that it's about looking at the right now and what's in front of you. I've been trying to do that - to stop forcing things, let God work and have things play out the way they're supposed to. It's been cool to have someone like Thomas Rhett as a mentor and to be able to talk about things like that."