EXCLUSIVE: OSTON Tells an Important Story with Upcoming EP ‘Saint Rich’

This interview has been edited for clarity.

“Honestly I feel like at the time I first started conceptualizing what a project would look like for myself and what I would be called, it was kind of trendy to do the all-caps pseudonym name,” OSTON says with a laugh.

LA-based musician Austin Wolfe —— known professionally as OSTON —— has been releasing music since 2018. When she first started, there was another musician named Austin Wolfe and “a really famous male porn star named Austin Wolfe dominating the SEO,” so she decided to try another angle. Her bandmate at the time coined her now-trademark phrase “Boston without the B” to remember the name. 

Much of her songs comment on her personal experiences, referencing places she’s lived or people she’s met throughout the years. OSTON’s latest work, an EP titled Saint Rich, drops May 16. 

“The whole project was this necessary reflection period that I think I had to go through before I could start writing happy songs again,” she says. She laughed and added, “I think I kind of realized that I had all this unresolved mental energy that I had to work through with a past relationship.”

It’s common to see artists reference their personal lives in songs. However, the most successful artists write about their lives in hidden messages, allowing fans to decode them or interpret their own meanings. OSTON’s music features these hidden messages, referencing specific locations or people that fans can use to relate to the music, as well as piece together the incredibly personal story OSTON is telling in her work.

“All of the songs off this EP are about my life in Chicago when I was with this person,” she shares. “It’s kind of like this tell-all about my relationship and this period of my life.”  In the singles released from Saint Rich, OSTON creates a heartbreaking atmosphere by name-dropping specific locations throughout the city. In “Wtf u want.,” she sings the lines: River North and gin martinis/Back when you thought I was pretty. She references the city again in her song “Molly.” starting with the opening lines: Molly I gave you a shot/Spinning around in the park in Chicago.

It’s exciting to see songs about the city that aren’t Djo’s “End of Beginning,” although it is a fantastic piece. Similarly to Djo, OSTON credits much of her early adult experiences to living in the Windy City.

“I feel like that’s where I grew up,” OSTON says, “like that’s where my brain developed.” She first moved to the city at 18 for college and lived there for five years before moving to Los Angeles. “I became this adult person with views of the world according to living in a city with so many different cultural influences, music influences and food influences. I became who I am because of that city.”

In her teens, OSTON had “a weird aversion to pop music.” Most of the songs she grew up listening to were from very indie folk singer-songwriters, which felt fitting for her small town in Utah. “Listening to pop made you very uncool,” she shares with a laugh. OSTON felt like she had to hide that she was listening to the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen, Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande.

When she first arrived in Chicago, OSTON worked at a studio where industry professionals —— producers, writers, instrumentalists —— were taking pop music seriously. “I was able to fall in love with that part of me again,” she says of the pop genre. “That part of my writing has remained with me no matter how my sound changes over the years.” OSTON’s last two projects —— “Melancholia” and I’m Definitely Talking Too Much —— were made alongside her partner and producer Drew Polovick. Leading up to her junior EP, OSTON wanted to experiment with new perspectives and sounds by working with a variety of producers. 

“I actually went around and was writing with a lot of people for this project,” she says. Although it was a bit of a challenge, OSTON found excitement in this. “I was writing something so personal,” she says, “so I had to go in and dump my entire life’s sob story on them.” 

Music is a form of storytelling. Sound, lyrics and presentation have equal weight in a longer project; an artist needs to be vulnerable with their collaborators to achieve this. OSTON ended up collaborating with producers/musicians Nydge, Austin Armstrong, Michael Blum and Nicci Gomez for the majority of the EP.

“It’s the first project where I feel there are different tracks that have different storytelling methods because they’re from different people,” OSTON says. Although her longtime collaborator is her partner, she found that working with new people —— people who don’t know her as well as Polovick does —— pushed her to be more “vulnerable and honest with the storytelling.”

Artists like Taylor Swift or Olivia Rodrigo tell some of the most personal stories through their songs, but they are also known in the industry alongside their collaborators. Their producers Jack Antonoff and Dan Nigro, respectively, have had a significant influence on the shifts in the sound of pop music over the last decade. OSTON’s most recent song “Wtf u want.” was released on March 15 and will be featured on her EP. Complete with a catchy bridge and heartbreaking choruses backed by a dance beat, you’ll be grateful when “Wtf u want.” is stuck in your head. 

“That was a fun one,” OSTON says about the song, “maybe the most go-with-the-flow of the whole project.” She worked with Austin Armstrong for the first time on this track, but the two ran in similar circles for a while. She also brought her close friend and fellow musician Katie Donnelly onto the song. “Wtf u want.” was inspired by Charli XCX-hyperpop accompanied by an acoustic guitar to ground the piece. 

After OSTON decided to put the song on “Saint Rich” she brought the track to Nicci Gomez, who took it to the “indie alt-pop world” from the “very pop, hyperpop” sound. “I definitely wanted it to be a single,” she shares, “because it was so jarring.” OSTON’s three most recent tracks —— “Wtf u want.,” “Burton St.” and “Molly.” —— are part of her upcoming EP.

As her sound has evolved so has she. Early on in her career before she moved to LA, OSTON started releasing music to establish herself as a serious musician. OSTON says, “I think that first project I put out, I just don’t resonate with it anymore.”

Other artists have discussed similar struggles when reviewing early work. Maggie Rogers, who went viral in 2016, completely scrubbed the internet of any music  she released before that viral moment. It wasn’t until she established herself in the industry that she re-released those songs. Similarly, Dove Cameron deleted any music released before “Boyfriend” because she didn’t feel like her old songs represented who she truly was

OSTON’s early songs felt like a version of herself that “doesn’t exist anymore.” While she does want to take those early works off of streaming platforms someday, she also uses them as a “stepping stone” for who she is today. “I had to step on that to get to where I am now,” she says. Now on the brink of her junior EP, she’s confident in herself and the stories she wants to tell through her music.

“I feel like everyone has that,” OSTON says about growth as an artist, “Miley Cyrus —— looking back at Hannah Montana, I’m sure she’s like ‘oh my God, that doesn’t feel like me, but also it’s iconic.’ It got her to where she is now.”

It’s interesting to watch creatives talk about their past work. While some are proud to show where they came from, others prefer not to discuss their previous experiences. Zendaya, for example, began her career as a child actress on Disney Channel. Now, she’s a two-time Emmy winner and blockbuster movie star. “You have to start somewhere. Not that I’m in any way, shape or form comparing myself to Zendaya,” OSTON adds with a laugh. 

“It’s fun to look back at people’s origins,” she adds, “but I definitely cringe every time somebody says they like a song of that [first] record.” OSTON enjoys looking back at other artists’ work to see where they came from; it’s validating. Creatives understand that there’s no such thing as an overnight success. Pop music fans are seeing this now with Sabrina Carpenter. While many believe she came into mainstream music out of nowhere, Carpenter has been working in the industry since 2012.

OSTON has been working as a musician for over six years now. There wasn’t anything particular that encouraged her to become an artist, but instead “this innate desire” she had “to do something creative” with her life. 

OSTON’s parents have always been her biggest supporters. “I just think that if I didn’t have that support coming from them, I probably would’ve given up a long time ago and gone into marketing,” she says. (We’d like to finally address the unfortunate artist-to-marketing pipeline.)

Growing up surrounded by music —— from going to concerts in the park to having the radio on in the car —— it seemed obvious that this was the right path. Her mom’s best friend was a professional musician and helped her write her earliest songs. “I just realized [from a young age] that I don’t know how I’m going to do this,” she shares, “but I can’t not try to be a musician.”

OSTON is going on tour with Hunter Hayes for the first couple of weeks of May.  Throughout middle school and high school, OSTON was a huge fan of Hayes. When she was asked to be an opening act on his Flying Solo Tour, it felt entirely “full circle.” 

The whole tour is acoustic, so OSTON’s set will just be her and a guitarist. “It’ll be a really stripped-down version of my songs,” she says, “which I don’t foresee doing again.” OSTON loves doing shows with her full band, so playing parts of her upcoming EP in this manner is both exciting and daunting. The songs on “Saint Rich” are incredibly emotional, so fans hearing them for the first time in this setting will really emphasize that. 

OSTON’s junior EP Saint Rich comes out May 16. You can follow her on Instagram and TikTok for updates.