Angelo De Augustine’s Voice is Carried by a Certain Kind of Softness

Angelo De Augustine interview with Northern Transmissions by Conor Rooney
Angelo De Augustine photo by Sufjan Stevens

Angelo De Augustine’s voice is carried by a certain kind of softness. It’s the kind of music that catches your ear gently and holds onto you with the tightest of embraces. Singing through softly plucked melodies with lyrics that fearlessly confront the depths of the soul – De Augustine wants you to see the world through his eyes and not look away.

Toil and Trouble is De Augustine’s fourth solo album, and his first since A Beginner’s Mind, the 2021 collaborative project with Sufjan Stevens. Toil and Trouble is somewhat of a return to form, seeing him revisit the self-contained approach to songwriting, recording and production that characterized 2015 Spirals of Silence and 2017’s Swim Inside the Moon. From start to finish, he wrote, recorded and mixed this latest work on his own, and the result is a captivating tapestry of swirling melodies, arrangements and sounds that inhabits a psychic halfway between this world and the next.

Northern Transmissions spoke with Angelo De Augustine shortly ahead of the release of Toil and Trouble, out now on Asthmatic Kitty Records:

NT: Firstly, thank you for speaking with us! There’s a deep beauty and gentleness all over Toil and Trouble. You said that you had to take yourself out of reality in order to try to understand reality as part of the process of making this new album. It feels like so many are now looking for escapism, and even that our collective relationship to nostalgia has changed in recent years – how has your own relationship to it changed?

Angelo: That’s a good question. I think that I’m trying to live more right now than ever, and not looking back on things. I don’t really know if that relates to nostalgia. But for me, I think living right now is helpful.

NT: The album took three years to record, which is a timeline that includes the pandemic. Can you pinpoint how the uncertainty and fear of that time influenced the emotional makeup of the record? Do you feel that it changed your relationship to songwriting?

Angelo: I wasn’t as directly affected as some people that weren’t allowed to stay home, but it’s is inevitable that we feel when lots of people are going through something like that. I think, with this record, there were so many other things going on just in my sort of internal world that I had to just take a moment and not really live in that anymore and find something else.

NT: When considering the notion of blocking out distractions and maintaining focus, do you believe this has become more effortless for you as time has passed?

Angelo: I think it’s always changing. I don’t think it’s ever really the same, and that’s kind of what makes it something you want to keep doing. What I’m actually interested in working on that come from me are the things that come to me when I’m not really trying to find anything; when I’m just sitting down and something just comes really fast.

NT: When you’re done with an album – take Toil and Trouble for example – how do you sit back and reflect on the work you’ve done? Do you visualize it as one piece or in a different way?

Angelo: It’s really hard to look back, and this was a really difficult record to make. I’m not quite there yet. I try to not do that so much. Whenever I’m finished with something, I just go on to the next thing.

NT: I want to ask you about the gorgeous landscape of this new record. How do you visualize the structure of a song as you’re putting together the piece?

Angelo: I think that if you have the basic structure of the song, and you feel that it’s strong, you could put anything on it and it’ll work. That’s really my main focus, and that’s always really been my main focus. But with this record, I did want to dig a little deeper and take the same care and attention that I used to the words, music and melody to also with the arrangements. It was definitely a lot of trial and error, but it was ultimately a good challenge.

NT: Will you be bringing this album out on tour? What’s next for you?

Angelo: Yeah I wish, but I’m not quite there yet! I hope to be able to do some stuff maybe next year.

Listen to Toil and Trouble HERE


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