We chat to A-Mar, Singer-Songwriter and Multi Instrumentalist, founded in the Maj7 chords of Jazz, guitar lines of Blues and textures of Bedroom Indie Pop...
- So firstly, how would you describe your sound?
I would say the foundations of it are based in jazz chords, although these are most definitely pop songs. The warmth of Major and Minor 7/9 chords have always grabbed my attention no matter what context they are played in, and any opportunity I have to create a mood of mellowness I take it. One of the important things about learning multiple instruments, is that you’re forced to immerse yourself in the genres that cater well to those instruments. As a guitar player, it’s difficult not to be influenced by Eric Clapton and BB King, and I try and implement as many blues lines from their catalogs as I can, while utilizing the trumpet and background vocals for harmonies.
- What’s a typical day in the studio like for you?
I would say a typical day includes me trying to connect different musical sketches I’ve created on my looper pedal… At this point there are hundreds of ideas that have gone nowhere, and I try to gather a sketch and immediately write a B Section for it. Sometimes I get lucky and two separate ideas that I wrote weeks apart fit well together. Once I have the skeletal foundation of a song, I begin scatting melodies that sound good musically, and then try and fit lyrics within those melodies. The guitar solos, harmonic piano chords, trumpet lines all fall into place from there by continuing to play these chords on my looper pedal and improv ideas until that section sounds good to me.
- Do you have to be in a certain mood to write a song?
Definitely from a lyrical standpoint. I always joke that while it took me three years to write this album, I was only writing for two weeks. I struggle with fiction, so typically the lyrics are coming from my own experiences, and if I’m not feeling what the song is about, I tend to check out… From a musical standpoint I don’t think I have to be inspired at all. Just pick up an instrument everyday and play it, and eventually you’ll filter out enough bad ideas that some good ones will appear.
- Who are your three biggest musical inspirations?
G Love, Amy Winehouse and Tom Misch… The easygoing and bluesy nature of G Love is so much fun. Tom Misch’s ability to fusion jazz and pop astounds me. He does everything I would like to do. Have you listened to Amy Winehouse’s Frank album? If you’re not an avid Amy fan you probably know Back To Black, but Frank has been in the background of my life for the last 15 years. I constantly find myself excited about a new chord progression I came up with, only to discover that I stole it from a song off that album, and now I have to start all over again.
- Who is the best band you've ever seen play live?
Ooh, this is a great question! Growing up in NYC and now having lived in Austin for seven years I’ve been very lucky regarding some of the shows I’ve seen… My brother took me to see Gary Clark Jr in New York’s Lower East Side back in the summer of 2011. Gary had just started to blow up due to his performance on Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival, but he still needed to finish his tour of small venues that he had previously signed off on. We saw him in this super small club in front of maybe 100 people… He’s my favorite guitar player of this generation, and needless to say, every show of his I’ve seen since has been packed with thousands of screaming fans.
- What’s the toughest part of the industry for you?
I would have to say the marketing aspect of it. I’m interested in writing songs and learning instruments in my apartment, and playing around Austin, but the social media stuff comes very unnaturally to me. I definitely would like for people to hear the songs, only because I think there’s a song in the album for most people, but I feel weird asking people to listen.
- What’s the most enjoyable part of the industry?
The way a stand-up comic must feel when they write a joke in their apartment, tell it in front of an audience for the first time and receive a big laugh, is how I feel about playing a song live for the first time and the audience receiving it well. There’s a second or two, that feels like an eternity between finishing a song, and the audience communicating what they thought, and when the reaction is good, after weeks of writing and being unsure of it, it’s a great feeling.
- What’s in store for you for the rest of 2021?
Ohh man, I think I’m going to enjoy some time here in Austin and start playing live again. I’m excited for people to listen the record, and to start working on the next one.
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