Learn What It Feels Like To Be “running on empty” with Austin Coven

Haley Villanueva

In the most unexpected places I’ve found an artist, Linkedin has been added to the list. Austin Coven is in his last semester of studying Music Industry at USC’s Thornton School of Music; and while I discovered his post after adding a mutual, the simple “like” from this mutual of ours brought his debut single to my attention with curiosity. 

Highlights of “running on empty” that caught my attention were both the production and storytelling. A bit of warp and immediate snare and kick throughout the track with a bit of piano chimed in created this perfect base of adding in some textures like muffled drums in the chorus and strings at the end. However, before the actual track officially ends, the isolation of Austin’s whisper and synth bass left the story of “running on empty” in some sort of promise of “..to be continued.” The track really brought me back to 2018 and Joji’s "Slow Dancing in the Dark

Storytelling of the lyrics partnered with the production created this tone of fright and hope that I loved. This metaphorical plot is about two people who are both essentially “running on empty” because while the story is introduced to a girl giving her all and running to another, another guy is watching out for her and others while feeling more and more worse in return. While there’s a saying of seeing a glass half full than half empty, Austin uses the comparison of cash. There’s this sense of just wanting to be included, “The robbers know the passcode, I’m on the stoop nobody asked me home.. Unless they need a ride. Please don’t get drunk and drive. I’ll take you to the bank to sober up, after you down that last red solo cup.” The encouragement and willingness to do a favor for others but then disappointingly scolding the idea of when everything feels unreciprocated because “the cash runs out, the numbers all begin to frown... To brag to all those people that judge you if you gained a pound, I fucking hate those guys. I’m sorry I let you down.” Midway through the track, I enjoyed this realization in standing up for respect, “I stopped waiting for things to happen, except you’re not what I imagined. I played so hard to get then there’s no more cars to get in.” However, because of the familiarity of how you were treated by others, this newfound demand for respect makes you think you’re too aggressive.” The track ends on another apology only to be continued in this self-proclaimed back and forth journey in hopes of finally no longer running on emptyfor others. 

When I found this track, I continued to listen to it as the rain poured in Southern California. It gave my car ride a sense of cinema. As a musician myself, Austin’s encouragement for posting the track came from this thought of allowing his “complacency to push aside artistry” and I can relate. We become shadow artists, if you will. We work around and admire the beauty of music in so many other artists while we are artists ourselves. I think no matter what you pursue from 9-5, I hope this encourages others to post anywhere and everywhere because you never know who’ll relate to your alchemy.

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