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Interview: Amy Serrata

29/09/2009

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Yesterday I posted a review of Amy Serrata’s fantastic self-titled debut. The talented songstress also took some time out to answer a few questions which hopefully give a bit more of an insight in to Amy as an artist, and as a person.

1.  When did you discover your passion for music, and how did you first get into singing and writing?

I knew that I loved music since I was a little girl.  It is something that has  always been a part of me.  I grew up singing to Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole to just name a few.  It was something that came naturally, it wasn’t forced or contrived it just felt right and it still does.

I got into songwriting as a poet initially.  I didn’t start putting together my lyrics and melodies until 2008!  I was singing in a gospel choir at Stanford University and a friend of mine encouraged me to sing to my lyrics.  From there, I started forming my poetry into songs, writing intros, verses, hooks and bridges to fill out  a song.  I essentially had to retrain my mind and learn the ropes of songwriting on my own.  With the lyrics came melodies that I recorded on a recorder and then I met some amazing hip hop producers whom I worked with to finish off my songs!  It has been such a beautiful journey so far and I look forward to writing new songs this year.  I am already talking to multiple producers and I plan on working on a new album this year.

2. The album is obviously heavily influenced by jazz, but there are also elements of soul and hip-hop thrown in the mix. Was this a conscious decision to appeal to a wider audience, or is this just your style?

When I started writing my songs I decided to experiment with my sound and I realized how much I loved soul jazz and hip hop.  I grew up on jazz and then developed a liking to rnb, soul, blues, funk and gospel.  My immense love and obsession with hip hop came later in the game.  Now it makes up a huge part of what I listen to musically.  And with my next material I am looking forward to incorporating even more hip hop.  So yes it is my style I have a huge wide range of music that I love and I didn’t want to be confined to one style.  Its exciting to see how both the young and old enjoy my music.

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3. Which artists, past and present, have had an influence on you and your music?

Hm I’d have to say Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Johnny Lang, John Mayer, Maxwell, Aretha Franklin, Alecia Keys, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Lauren Hill, Lady Gaga, Adele, Estelle, Fiona Apple, Bjork,  Tori Amos, Amy Winehouse and many many more…

4. One of my favourite tracks on the album, ‘Feel For Me’, seems to be addressing someone (or several people) who were not so supportive of your choice to pursue a career in music. Is this based on real experiences/people?

Yes this song is based on a real experience that I had with someone.  None of my family is in the entertainment business and come to think of it there are hardly any musicians or artists either.  So, there are times that I feel very alone and misunderstood.  Its not an easy road as a musician.

5. The music business is often seen as a very harsh environment, and there is a perception that unless you ‘conform’ to the mainstream it is very difficult to get your work out there. Can you tell me a bit about your experiences in the business and how you have found it so far…

Yes.  This business is not for the weak of heart.  It is something that you have to fight that much harder for since it is so hard to break into, get heard and seen by the right people.  It requires long hours of performing, rehearsing, creating new work, promoting, finding musicians to play with, networking and on and on.  I have thrown myself full force into this and so far I have gotten a lot of reviews online, some radio play in the US and Europe and I will be in Curve Magazine in November.  Its hard to trust your own sound especially when everything around you is the norm.  To venture out and do something different is risky but so far the responses that I have gotten are very encouraging.  People have been saying that my sound is unique and fresh and they are comparing me to a mix of Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and Nelly Furtado with a touch of Imogean Heap.  I just met questlove 3 weeks ago too and he told me that he is spinning my music all over in his DJ sets!

6. Can you tell me a bit about the story behind the track ‘My Baby, My Child’?

IMG_0950aYes I’m so glad you asked me about this song.  My cousin wrote a book about stranger danger and she initially asked me to write a song for her website.  I laughed it off like what would I have to say about that since I have never had a child let alone experienced something so traumatic as this.  However, I put myself in a mother’s shoes and the words and melody just came to me.  It is about a mother who wants her child to be set free and really this message could be applied in so many different ways.  Set free emotionally set free physically set free from many different things.  Don’t we all wish we could be set free?  Every time I sing this it just speaks so much to me.  I had a woman from myspace tell me how much that song meant to her because she lost her son to a drunk driver she said that My Baby My Child offered her a lot of peace and comfort that meant the world to me and it only reconfirmed to me that that message needed to be written, sung and heard.

7. What are your thoughts on being compared to artists such as Erykah Badu and Jill Scott?

I take this as a huge compliment!  They are 2 amazing women, singers and songwriters!  People will always want to catagorize you and compare you to people its just something that we humans do but I’m not complaining with that!  Haha!

8. The album has been out nearly a year now, what have you been up to since the release and what are your plans for the next 6-12 months?

Well I technically finished the recording process around this time last year but by the time the mixing the mastering and the packaging was finished it hasn’t really been a year.  It was all ready to go at the end of last year.  I never realized how long this whole process would take.

My next plans are to work on a mix tape, a new album, collaborate and write new songs on various other peoples albums.  I will be working with the production team of Kissey Asplund’s Papa Jazz hopefully very soon and one of them is wanting to do a remix of my song Feel For Me which is very exciting.  I plan on continuing to perform in northern California till the end of this year and I’d like to start a tour down to Southern California soon.  I am looking to team up with other groups to go on tour which would enable me to reach a larger fan base which I really look forward to doing.  I would love to get signed by a label next year and form an amazing supportive team around me to help me reach my goal of playing all out in this business.

9. What albums/artists are you currently listening to?

I have Lady Gaga in my car right now shes so great!  I have been listening to Maxwell’s new album which is incredible! Adele was in my car and stereo at home for a while too I can’t get enough of her!  I just started listening to Little Dragon’s new album, I need to go get that soon I have heard from friends how amazing it is.

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10. Finally, if you could have a ‘wishlist’ of 5 current artists to collaborate with who would they be, and why?

  1. Questlove- he is an amazingly multi-talented musician.  He is not only talented but one of the sweetest and realest people you’ll ever meet.  Its so refreshing!  He has produced some amazing albums not to mention that he is in the roots!  I would love to work with him!
  2. Qtip I am a huge fan of him.  He is my favorite MC of all time.  I would love to do a song with him, tour with him and on and on.  The man is amazing!
  3. John Legend I would love to write songs with him.  I love his style and I think we could make some amazing music together!
  4. Bjork I love how unique she is.  Her sound is incredible and I love how she walks to the beat of her own drum.  I would love to sing and or write a song with her, tour with her and to share the stage with her would be incredible.
  5. Aretha Franklin when I think of soul I think of Aretha.  I would love to write material with her sing perform tour and on and on.
  6. And I could go on and on with many others that I would want to collaborate with

For more information on Amy, check out her official website and her myspace page.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. 01/10/2009 6:38 am

    I don’t know If I said it already but …This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  2. Vivrant Thang permalink
    21/10/2009 3:34 am

    What Jim Beam said 🙂 Look at you getting into interviews and stuff!

    I am going to have to give this album another uninterrupted listen. I love her list of dream collabs. Balanced and all kinds of awesome!

Trackbacks

  1. Even If It Is So « The SoulReservoir
  2. DOWNLOAD: Get Amy Serrata’s Album … For FREE! « Soul:UK

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