Now, here’s a unique way to introduce yourself to the world. Penelope Austin is a talented young singer-songwriter out of Australia who, along with artists from five other countries around the globe, will have a song of theirs featured in a scene from Star Trek Into Darkness. Austin and her longtime collaborator-producer Robert Conley penned “The Dark Collide,” which earned the seal of approval from J.J. Abrams and, as a result, will be heard in all of the prints of Star Trek Into Darkness that play in Australia. StarTrek.com caught up with Austin just a few days after the Star Trek Into Darkness premiere in Sydney, which she and Conley attended as red-carpet guests. Here’s what she had to say:
Austin: Thank you! It was a very surreal experience, especially as this song didn’t exist two weeks ago, so it was all a bit of a whirlwind leading up to the premiere. Meeting J.J. at the premiere was an incredible moment for me; he was so friendly and energetic. I’ve always admired his imagination and found his TV series and films captivating, so to meet him was amazing. Then, of course, hearing the song in the film was the highlight… as soon as I heard the beginning of the track play I felt like beams of light were shooting through my chest. It was a very proud moment for me.
What did J.J. Abrams say to you about "The Dark Collide"?
Austin: He was full of energy when we spoke and reiterated how much he loved the song. He made us feel that he was very excited for us.
In what way do you think the song enhances the moment that moviegoers see on screen?
Austin: The track itself is sexy yet dark and the scene in which it is played is within a bar. You got to imagine this bar as futuristic. All kinds of creatures intertwined with human beings… but aside from the odd surroundings and curious patrons it’s a scene not dissimilar to one we'd be familiar with now if you and I were to go for a drink. It created a fun atmosphere, but also accentuated futuristic tone through our choice of lyrics - such as universal collides and a galaxy on fire.
Take us through the creation of the song. It was written for the film…
Austin: We were given an incredibly small time frame to write, record and get the track back to Los Angeles, but Robert and I have a tendency to collaborate quickly, so for us it was a very natural process. This song was written in just under 2 hours. We had received the music from Bad Robot; Charles Scott and J.J. Abrams composed the instrumental for the track, and we wrote the lyrics and the melody.
I found the process so enjoyable because my imagination and the images within my mind were easily relatable to the Star Trek theme, that being of outer universes, an almost sinister undertone. I have a tendency to mix beautiful with melancholy. Dark and Light. The creative freedom to write a song for a party scene whilst also embedding catastrophe into it was fun.
How did the opportunity come along? Was it a contest you heard about and entered?
Austin: No, an executive from Paramount Australia, who is familiar with our work, contacted us with the opportunity. The outcome of actually getting approval on the track was slim and we were both aware there was only 10 days until the film’s Australian premiere. As you can imagine, we were both honored when we got word from Los Angeles that Bad Robot loved the track.
Are you a Star Trek fan?
Austin: I am now! I usually tend to gravitate towards dramas. However, I got lost inside the world of Star Trek - it was so intriguing to me – and I loved how epic Into Darkness was.
Tell us about yourself: where you're from? What music influenced you? How would you define your "sound"?
Austin: I grew up in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales in Australia - coming from very humble beginnings. I had an obsession with hearts; in fact, I would negotiate bed times with my parents so I could stay awake and watch documentaries and television series on the fixing of them. From what I believed, I would grow to become a surgeon and mend broken hearts. However, my life and ultimately my path took a turn when I lost my mother at 14 years. That was my experience with a broken heart - and it was my own. It was then I picked up the guitar and used this instrument as an object to heal mine.
Sarah McLachlan was my first musical muse. Her lyrics were incredibly dark, but the beauty within her voice made all her songs so precious. I am a huge fan of Joni Mitchell and Carole King - the rawness of both of their sounds makes their music so relatable (and) untouched. As far as my own sound, I see the words 'beautiful darkness' flashing in front of me right now. An element of melancholy, imagery of a landscape embedded with dark undertones. That best describes my lyrics, but the music and production that Robert brings to my songs is ever so beautiful and well thought out. Harps… Cello... Intriguing sounds. The two contradict one another.
I have spent half my life travelling the world in an exploration of who I really am. In the past 12 months I have finally felt ready to showcase who 'Penelope Austin' is - and here we are.
You're getting some good press from this opportunity. How would you like to see your career go from here?
Austin: I have no limits or boundaries. Ultimately, for me, I would like to continue composing and performing music and, of course, be recognized on an international scale. I see it fitting because really most of my music is drawn upon the experiences I gathered whilst abroad. I feel most at home when I'm furthest from it, believe it or not. I don't want to clip the wings in any way with my musical path, or muddy my mind with thoughts of anything being impossible. Thoughts become things, and I'm aiming big. Music is my fuel and I’ll continue to follow it wherever it chooses to lead me.
Click HERE to check out Austin’s official Facebook page and HERE to visit PenelopeAustin.com.