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'Homeless Star' Sam Austins Signs With Atlantic, Discusses Upcoming Project Inspired by His Struggles

Sam Austins
Christopher "Swurve" Johnson

Sam Austins

Atlantic has announced the addition of Michigan-made alternative artist Sam Austins to their roster, and on Friday (June 4), the 25-year-old multihyphenate has released his first single, "KILOS," with the label. Austins is also gearing up for his debut album, HOMELESS STAR, set to release in September.

“Sam is a true original – a brilliant artist and songwriter who effortlessly fuses the worlds of music, fashion, film and TV through his singular vision," says Atlantic Records chairman and COO, Julie Greenwald. "Sam’s possibilities are endless and we’re thrilled to partner with him on his exciting creative journey.”

While a newcomer to many, Austins has already landed a writing credit on the Big Sean-Post Malone hit "Wolves," as well as scored a spot in the June/July 2021 issue of Vogue. The singer-songwriter took off to Los Angeles to live out his dreams, a far cry from the humble midwestern beginnings that inspired the concept for HOMELESS STAR. After graduating from high school, an 18-year-old Austins was given an ultimatum: either stay home and get sent to the U.S. Navy, or leave.

"I told [my mom and her partner] I'm leaving," he says. "And they said, 'If you leave, this is it,' and I was like, okay, I'm gonna take my chances."

What followed was a six-month period of couch-surfing across the east side of Detroit and a brief stint sleeping in the back of his 2004 champagne Chevy Impala. "I was poor as hell," says Austin. "I had $10 to my name and I remember surviving off of rice and McDonald's $1 McChickens."

While faced with severe instability, Austins was able to dedicate himself to the pursuit of music, without familial pushback. "Even with those moments being down as bad as I was, I always knew the through line in my head," he says. Following his nomadic stretch, Austins spent five years sleeping on a mattress on the floor of his aunt's attic, quietly plotting his rise.

Today, Austins carries his struggles proudly, channeling his experiences as inspiration for the creative direction and lyrical content of HOMELESS STAR. With his musical style, Austins is a boundary-breaker, challenging long-held ideas of what it means to be an alternative artist: he hones in on eclectic influences that manage to achieve synchronicity, thanks in part to his equally multifarious production team.

"KILOS," the introduction to the project, is part Blood Orange, part Tame Impala, yet entirely Austins. The avant-garde storyteller paints a picture of Detroit in the summer, juxtaposing a soothing, laid-back delivery with troubling lines like, "I haven’t slept in a month/ These fireworks are like the fourth of July."

Following the release of three singles as a recipient of Tidal's Unplugged grant, Austins was contacted by representatives from RCA, APG and Republic Records, something he says he was not expecting. In the end, Austins signed with Mike Caren's APG, formerly in partnership with Atlantic Records. Three months following his signing, APG went fully independent, with Atlantic continuing its relationship with APG's roster, including artists like Kehlani, Don Toliver and Austins.

"Atlantic is very empowering of all my aspirations," says Austins. "I know that some labels have horror stories of taking the artist's vision and manipulating [their] identity... But Atlantic proved that they were really down to give me a platform to do exactly what I wanted to do with my art."

Following "KILOS," Austins plans to release two more singles leading up to the September release of HOMELESS STAR. "I'm excited for people to really put their teeth into a story," says Austins. "The music is a vehicle for the whole vision."

Watch the "KILOS" video below.