When Austyn Moffat got his first royalty check at age 15, he was hooked. Yes, it was only for about $3.17, but that was enough to buy two large drinks at Sonic (during their happy hour) and as he took his sip of icy cold soda, he marveled: “Wow, my music paid for this.”
Moffat, who goes by coldbrew these days, has come a long way from that 15-year-old kid at the Sonic drive-in. An Oklahoma-based musician and label owner, his life is rooted in his sole passion, music, and he spends his days making lofi beats as coldbrew and releasing similar music via his label Kindbrew Records, including songs by softy, Mondo Loops, Oatmello, and Mujo.
It took a while to find his signature chill sound, though. Moffat got his first guitar at age three, started taking lessons at five (from Jesse Tabish, the lead singer of alt band Other Lives), and began writing original music at nine with encouragement from Tabish. His first song hinted at what was to come: it was about his family sitting around the campfire, the kind of atmospheric fare that would become his MO as coldbrew.
In his teens, Moffat had a brief stint making and spinning dubstep — which he found stressful, given the high intensity of the beats he was working with — before finding his sound through sheer experimentation. One day, he was messing around with the cheap mic kit his parents got him as a kid and discovered a series of loops in the software that came with it. “I was like, ‘Wow, I can make a whole song on my computer,’” he recalls. “I was making that music because it was relaxing to me, but I’d also never heard anything like it.” It all clicked when a friend from the technical school where he was studying music showed him lofi icon bootleg boy’s No Sleep Mix, which sounded like the music he was making alone in his room. Suddenly, the giant file of chill beats he had on his laptop seemed less like a hobby and more like a career.
“I had no idea people cared about instrumental music,” Moffat says. “I still thought I had to tour and all that to be successful.” And that was daunting for someone who says music is all he knows how to do. Previously, he was willing to do whatever it took to break into the music industry — whether it be touring with a band or rolling cables for them — but now, he saw a real way in. He could make the music that he loved — and people would listen.
And listen they did. When Moffat released his first EP, welcome to my mind, in 2019, results were staggering. Tens of thousands of people tuned in to the deliciously trippy EP in the first week, which solidified Moffat’s new project as his number-one gig. He called this lofi persona coldbrew, since the tunes were ideal for coffee shops and that beverage was his favorite. “I wanted my name to represent how the music sounds — and I wanted the way it looked to be like the music feels,” he says.
2020’s childhood followed, an ambitious, sprawling affair that evoked such visceral universal memories as the Scholastic Book Fair, Legos, and stovetop popcorn (yes, the latter does sample that delicious sound). The album’s name was fitting, too, since Moffat was leaving his childhood behind, moving into an apartment with his girlfriend (now wife) and supporting himself with his music. He now owns his own home. A true workaholic, Moffat’s discography is massive — and popular. He gets more than a million monthly listeners on Spotify and appears on playlists like “lofi beats.” He’s also been featured on “Sirius XM Chill,” “Chill Tracks,” “Bedtime Beats,” “Jazz Vibes,” “lush lofi,” “chill lofi study beats,” “Mellow Lofi Morning,” “lofi + chill,” “Road Trip to Tokyo,” “Varsity Bars,” the bootleg boy’s channel, “College Music,” “Chill Nation,” “nourish.,” “STEEZYASFUCK,” and “Ambition.”
Currently, Moffat is wrapping up yet another hugely ambitious project: seasons, out March 2023. That record is the culmination of a project where he released an EP every season, inspired by that season. Ever dedicated to his craft, Moffat wrote and recorded each EP during said season, then waited a year to release it. “A lot of music to me is magic,” he says. “Whatever energy it is that I’m putting into a song, comes through in a way that’s not explainable. The energy in the room is captured, and it comes through when the music is played.”
Well, given his thirst for creativity and dedication to storytelling, Moffat seems to have plenty more magic up his sleeve.