Sitting in the corner of a coffee shop, fingers beat against the table in a synchronous rhythm against the hum of grinding beans and mumbled orders. Bright eyes light up with the mention of music and traveling, and friendly greetings pass with each opening of the shop door.
Austin Cain is a musician in all aspects of his life, incorporating movement and sound into everything he does. Cain, a junior at Auburn University, released his first EP Invisible Strings Feb. 18th, 2017. Cain writes and records his own music, dedicating much of his time to his favorite passion.
The album centers around the concept of a puppeteer manipulating people with invisible strings, created with insecurities.The album has five songs and reached number 42 on iTunes’ singer/songwriter genre top 50 list. To Cain, it was humbling seeing his name next to some of his favorite bands, something that is certain to happen again in the future.
“My favorite song currently out is ‘Not Going Back,’ the fourth song on the EP,” said Cain. “It’s about our sin nature. Romans 7 talks about how ‘I don’t do what I want to do and I do do what I don’t want to do,’ so the song is about mourning our sin and not going back to habitual sins that I hate in my life. It’s like a battle cry.”
The singer writes all of his own music, having around 70 to 80 written songs in his collection. When he plays covers, he tends to take a few chords of a known song and twist them to make them his own, combining an extensive musical knowledge with fresh creativity.
|Listen to Austin's music on iTunes Invisible Strings - Austin Cain and Spotify Invisible Strings - Austin Cain.|
I wrote ‘The Fish,’ the first song on the EP, in my closet in about 25 minutes,” said Cain. “When my roommate would go to sleep, I didn’t want to wake him up, so I hung my clothes all around to absorb the sound and just jammed. It’s about being tossed around in a sea and being pushed to conform, but you want to get out because it isn’t your home and it isn’t what you’re defined by.”
Cain finds inspiration for music in the smaller life moments, especially relating to nature. Though he is just beginning to write love songs and other subject matter, most of his older work centers around personal fears or insecurities. Typically he begins with a hook or a few chords, then fits words to the repetition and contrast that the music needs.
Growing up, Cain moved around the south with his family as his father planted churches, eventually settling in Memphis, Tennessee. A musical family, his sisters play violin, piano and sing and his dad plays guitar. Through middle school and into high school, Cain played the cello and was first chair in the orchestra. He and his sisters played together for weddings and other events.
His passion for creation began with lego sets and garageband mixes. Cain still has old loops he recorded when his parents would give him an hour a day to spend on the family’s computer. Thoroughly musically talented, he also learned to play piano and mandolin before his love for guitar developed.
“I remember this so clearly, I saw a video of Stevie Ray Vaughn playing the best guitar solo and I knew I wanted to play like that,” said Cain. “So I went to the music store with $150, which is a ton of money for a 13-year-old, and bought a blue Squier Stratocaster. I didn’t even have the right amp for it.”
Largely self-taught, Cain’s sound has a warm, gentle tone due to an old nail-biting habit. Instead of picking the strings with his nail, the musician plays with his finger, creating softer vibration. A signature move is a slap technique with his thumb on the two and four beats of each measure, adding to the individuality of Cain’s music.
Though majoring in finance, Cain plans to spend his life making music. He’s trusting God with his future, spending this summer in Los Angeles then hoping to move to a big city after graduation next spring.
“I have a plan A and that’s to be a musician for the rest of my life,” said Cain. “I’ve been learning that if you have a plan B, then plan A is never going to work. I could have a fallback plan in finance, but if I have this fallback, then I’m never going to do anything with music.”
His dream life would be to travel around the world playing shows for anyone who would listen. Cain currently travels around the United States, specifically the south, trying to play at least one show a week. His favorite show to date is his release party, where the crowd was made up of his closest friends.
Cain lives his life with exuberant joy in Christ and in music. Not a single person walked through the door in the back corner of the coffee shop that was not greeted like an old friend. He bounced from table to table, thoroughly living in the present moment.
“Philippians 4 says do not be anxious about anything,” said Cain. “If I was trying to make my own plan, it wouldn’t come near to being as good as what God has for my future.”
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