Rachel Austin exposes the links between sound and narrative — the abstract sounds we hear so often in improvisation and the words that lace the head when filled with sound. Her work has taken on an obsession with the sublime with impulses toward narrative, noise and computer interventions.
Her songs stretch the borders of indie folk and grungy jazz, reflecting the influences of both her childhood home in the mountains of Virginia and her nomadic homes in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
With a voice that soars "like an earth angel" (Hot Press Magazine) and song writing that is "at once haunted and uplifting, yearning yet triumphant" (Daily Mirror), Austin adds junk tremolo guitar to create a sound compared to that of Jeff Buckley and Woven Hand.
In her live performances, she weaves these vocals and songs together using simple voice and loop station arrangements to make playful yet bold statements.
[She's most inspired by the work of Regina Spektor, Björk, Tania Bruguera, Miguel Gutierrez, serpentwithfeet.]
Rachel Austin's chief collaborators have been Bhumi Patel, Sholeh Asgary, Declan Legge, Erika Oba, ikon, and inkBoat.
She has performed in various works as singer, electronic composer, and performance artist/dancer, including with Kronos Quartet, Fred Frith, Okkyung Lee, Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Curran, Zeena Parkins, inkBoat, the Irish National Symphony Orchestra, Maria Chavez, Alvin Curran, and ikon. She has performed with dancers Molissa Fenley, Anna Halprin, Sherwood Chen, Yuko Kaseki, and Tadashi Endo. She has performed at the Irish National Concert Hall, Christchurch Cathedral, Centro de Cultura Digital, NIME, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Oxygen Festival, Big Air Festival, Waveley Labs, the MAC, Greenbelt Festival, OPA, Jazz in the Neighborhood, and on BBC Radio 1, Radio 4, BBC Radio Ulster, RTE 2, Radio Libertaire, and NPR.
Austin has completed commissions and residencies at Kunstuniverstät Graz, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Visible Records, New City Arts Initiative, Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, Christchurch Cathedral, Habitat for Humanity, pateldanceworks, New City Arts Initiative, Round Antennae, and the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. Her book, Learning But Never Knowing, was published through Statement Press in collaboration with Amira Hegazy and Sholeh Asgary. It's available through Printed Matter, Inc, NYC and online.
She holds a BA in Electronic Composition from Mills College and an MFA in performance+performance studies from Pratt Institute. Austin taught voice and performance at the Sonic Arts Research Center at Queen's University Belfast.