Josh Augustin, a third year TIMARA and Cinema Studies major, has spent this past semester in New York City attending the New York Arts Program. The NY Arts Program is run by Ohio Wesleyan as part of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (Oberlin is a member school). It’s structured in 16 credits – 12 are for one or two internships in a creative field of your choice, and the other four are a weekly seminar with an advisor where you make, learn, and talk about art. “The music seminar was small this year, it was just me and one other student from Kalamazoo College, but we had a wonderful time making music together and discussing all things music-related with our advisor.”

To fill the program’s internship credits, Augustin is interning at Columbia Records in the Marketing Department. He says, “At a big label like Columbia, Marketing sort of functions as the glue that pulls together all the various departments as they work to promote the label’s roster. They develop and execute campaigns and release strategies that involve a wide array of promotional pursuits and logistics, pulling all of these facets of the major-label system together into a precise and cohesive plan surrounding the release of a new single or album. These plans are executed over the course of several months. My favorite part of working at Columbia has been watching these campaigns play out in real time. I’ve watched artists like Solange, Hozier, Gesaffelstein, Lil Nas X, Vampire Weekend, and several others release new music during my internship. It’s really impressive watching the coordinated efforts of Columbia’s employees come to fruition.”

Augustin speaks to how being in NYC for the semester has influenced him as an artist. “Musically speaking, it’s left an indelible impact on my work. Most of the music I make, whether it’s solo or with my friend Sam as Vansire, is a soundtrack to wherever I’m currently living or spending time. For most of my life, that’s been southeastern Minnesota or Oberlin, both rural locations. The soundtrack to walking around Midtown at 6PM is obviously quite different from what I’d be spinning while driving through an uncrowded Rust Belt interstate. I don’t think my compositional process has changed, but the geographic immediacies which inform the scenes and sensations I’m interested in depicting have shifted drastically.”

Since geography plays such an important role in Augustin’s music creation, being in New York has been a game-changer in his creative life. He speaks to what he misses about being in the more familiar and comfortable environment, of Oberlin: “In the most literal sense, I miss open rural spaces. Three and a half months spent trotting around the streets of New York has made me realize how much my understanding of the world around me is predicated upon plains, fields, and empty spaces. What I mean to say is that New York isn’t really a creative stasisĀ for me. It’s an exciting and bustling place, somewhere I aspire to become a part of, but in my own personal narrative, it’s a place that represents a culmination of the things I’ve learned and people I’ve met along the way. Which is very cool and exciting in its own way. On the other hand, Oberlin bears more similarity to where I grew up, and making music somewhere reminiscent of that time in my life sort of centers me in a creative capacity.”

Sometimes a change in pace and surroundings can be invigorating. Augustin reflects on some of his biggest learning moments from his time in The Big Apple and beyond, “I think there’s value in spending some time away from the places and people that you love. While challenging on occasion, the absence of locations and figures central to your life can help you more clearly determine why they’re important to you, and how they’ve shaped you as an individual. So in that sense, I think I’ve learned to not shy away from opportunities which might seem onerous in their lack of normalcy. When I look back on my short time alive, the experiences in which I went for something outside of the norm have usually been the most memorable and meaningful. Life’s fleeting as it is, so eh, you might as well give things a shot if you have the chance.” – KR