Sean Augustine, a.k.a. Glass Battles

NX MEET: Glass Battles

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 6 MIN.

EDGE and Lexus NX Beat have partnered to profile six of today's hottest LGBTQ+ recording artists. Click here to see the full video featuring Glass Battles and Summer Payton, and read the EDGE interview with Glass Battles below.

Massachusetts native and singer-songwriter-producer Sean Augustine, better known as Glass Battles, is the sort of artist who's going to say what's on his mind in the manner of his own choosing, even if that means teaching himself how to produce music or (as he also did) channeling his time in isolation as he recovered from COVID into learning how to create a visual effects-laden video about a space traveler (using the isolation of quarantine as emotional rocket fuel).

EDGE: You have a striking stage name. What's the story behind that nom de plume?

Glass Battles: That's actually from "The Green Mile," by Stephen King. There's a monologue in there that's about the frailty of mankind that talks about that. That's from my very emo stages, like in 2009.

EDGE: You identify as gay. Do you find that to be central to your work – would your music be different if you identified as straight, or bi, or some other orientation?

Glass Battles: I'm not sure. It's central to me, so I feel like my work is probably always going to have that in some capacity. But I try to write music that's relatable to everyone. Being gay is definitely intrinsic, but I don't know how much that would inform what I write; relationships are a very universal thing. I want to be able to have people relate to what I'm singing about, regardless of their sexuality or gender or creed or anything.

EDGE: Do you avoid specifying pronouns in your songs, or do you feel like sometimes you should actually make it clear that this is a guy you're singing about?

Glass Battles: I don't avoid it, because it doesn't bother me at all. I try to draw from experiences that are personal to me; when it comes to what I'm writing to, it's an amalgamation of my past and current experiences. But I don't want to put anybody on the spot.

EDGE: By that same token, do you write songs to your fantasy or your ideal of a person?

Glass Battles: No, not necessarily. Every song that I write is from a specific situation, or a collection of specific situations. I haven't gotten to that point yet as an artist to have to write about a fantasy/ideal type of thing. Even "Darling," my last single, was a more emotional song; that about a relationship that's very close to me at the moment.

I write more about emotion than I do about the people that are in those situations [with me], because I can only imagine how awkwardly that would age. You know, your song would be like, [singing] "And he shouldn't have done this..."


And I'm sure that's very cathartic, but I want to write about the universal feelings.

EDGE: You're also a producer. Have you had a chance to work with other LGBTQ+ recording artists?

Glass Battles: Yeah. I also do visuals, I direct and animate. During 2020 I learned a lot of 3D animation skills and film editing technology. During that time, I had the I had the honor of working with my friend Kaleena Zanders; I worked with Rufus Wainwright – directed and animated his video.

I've worked with a bunch or artists on musical things, too. These past couple of years I've more of a flow with visual stuff for other artists. We're all trying to figure out like, how to stay afloat during the [pandemic, using] the limited resources that we have.

EDGE: That's right, you taught yourself how to create the SFX for your 2020 video "All Hearts." And you also taught yourself how to produce music. Does being an autodidact give you a unique perspective and help you create work that's really all your own?

Glass Battles: For sure! From 2008 to 2010, which is seems like a century ago, I started teaching myself production stuff, basically out of a lack of finances – [I was an] independent artist, trying to figure things out. I was like, "I can teach myself this, and see what happens next." Over the years I skilled through music, and in 2020, when I learned visual stuff, too, it was the same thing. I have found – which I didn't realize about myself – I found that I learn programs pretty quickly. It's the freedom you have when you produce those kind of things. It gives you the ability to do what you want, and put your ideas in the forefront.

The positive [about teaching yourself new skills] is you kind of get away with whatever you want to do. The negative is that you're still learning through the process, too, so there are things you may look back on, like, "Oh, I wish I'd done this differently." But it has aided me in being able to accomplish a personal sound and personal visuals.

EDGE: Do you feel that you could put yourself in the hands of another producer and they could help you achieve your vision? Or is it more the case that you feel you're the only one who knows exactly what it is you need in order to get a song to sound right?

Glass Battles: I would love to collaborate. I think now I think I have a clearer idea of my sound and music. Working with another producer [at this point] would be amazing, because I would be able to bring things to the table, as opposed to being, like, "I'm not sure; what do you think?." We'd be able to create something special; it would be much more streamlined, like, "Here's my stuff. Here's yours. What do you think we could create?" We could actually have collaborative, creative conversations.

EDGE: Has there been a moment – say, a story a fan shared, or something you've seen online, or a looking out at the crowd during a performance – when you said to yourself, "This right here is why I do this work!"?

Glass Battles: I mean, to be honest, I'm a simpleton when it comes to any positive feedback. I think one of the best moments I've had was in 2017, playing a show at South by Southwest. It was a really great evening. And I saw a bunch of people I felt looked like I would have looked at a show when I was younger. There was this group of girls, and they came over to me afterwards and said, "Thank you so much! We love your music so much!" It's such a simple thing. It sounds so cliché, but as a person that has a very large imposter syndrome, every single positive feedback like makes me feel like a king.

It was a very special moment that, like, these people are thinking about the things that I do. They're taking the time out of their day to come to a show. They know the music I make, and it has an impact on them. Anything that I have of value, if it means something of value to somebody else and I can see that, it means a lot to me.

EDGE: What is your hope/wish/goal for the LGBTQIA+/Queer community in the next 10 years?

Glass Battles: We've seen a new wave of artists from this community breaking the glass ceiling. I would love to see there not be such a speciality – I would love to see a beautiful mix of all these amazing people from this community, as opposed to being, like, "Isn't that great? They're gay. or lesbian. They're trans or non binary. They're questioning." Within 10 years, I would love to see a non reaction to all this. Like, these are just the icons that are creating art that we all appreciate. And hopefully, God willing, to be a part of that, as well.

Follow Glass Battles on Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

This story is part of our special report: "Lexus NX Beat". Want to read more? Here's the full list.

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