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A Conversation With Amiena
Posted by Kristen Lowman on Jun 28, 2012 - 3:28:58 AM
Photo Credit: facebook.com
BEVERLY HILLS—Meet Amiena, a local acoustic/jazz/soul artist based jointly in
London and Los Angeles, who has been making waves in LA's music scene.
What is your earliest musical memory?
I was around four years old, I remember singing a song, “Sunshine, Sunshine” – my father held my hand the whole time.
When did you know that music was in your blood?
From the time I was little, I loved music. Growing up in an environment that did not allow T.V. – I listened to music for hours and sang.
How long have you been making music?
I have been writing “songs” for as long as I can remember. I used to record my songs on a tape recorder. I do not recall ever going back and listening to them though.
The first time I recorded in a (home) “studio,” I was 12. I wrote the song and the melody line to “You Have Got My Heart.” The experience was fun. The church piano player, Denise Bobo, was kind enough accompany me. I drove her crazy as I kept singing it differently. I still do that in the studio. I suppose some things never change.
What inspires you?
When I was a kid, I wrote a song about how bullfrogs and butterflies inspired me in the morning to get up and go to school. I guess the universal generic response would be life and things around me.
What does your music give you and what do you hope it gives others?
The songs I write and perform are my way of expressing myself. Music overall gives me the feeling inside that you get when you first discover your favorite ice cream flavor or when you see a rainbow for the first time. Music gives me a smile. It is probably cheaper than therapy.
I hope that “my music” gives others a chance to embrace a hidden memory, create a new one, connect with lyrics or the melody and if but for only a moment, be carefree. Be happy.
Tell me about your most memorable show or moment on stage.
My most memorable moment on “stage” was not actually on a stage. I was in Afghanistan on a charity mission. In the middle of a room packed with young girls and older women, a little girl hands me a child’s guitar and motions for me to sing.
First off, I am NOT a good guitar player and then I began wracking my brain… [as to] what to sing! I started singing and playing (rather poorly, I might add), the [first] song that came to mind, “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
Although I am sure most of the girls could not understand the words, they were spellbound. When I finished, the women who had crowded in from outside were wiping their eyes with their headscarves and smiling. It was a beautiful moment and, I realized that even though you might not always understand the words, the emotion that flows through while you are singing is what people feel. It is not often where you are sitting on the floor, in the middle of a third world country taking in all of these facial expressions and you say to yourself, “I’ve just given these women and girls an experience that will make them smile for a long time. In return without knowing, they have just helped me realize yet again, how truly blessed I am to being doing what I love.” Total win-win!
What is the strangest thing that has ever inspired a song?
A puzzle. I was putting together a puzzle with my brother and a guy I was seeing at the time and, a comment was made that sent me off on a tangent and “Little Miss Perfect” from my first album, “Right Here” was born.
Give me some insight into your music and songwriting process.
Wow. I wish I could. I have a book that I write things in – good and bad. Sometimes I pull from that. On my new project, I had writing sessions with Chris Mann and Adrian Bradford. The duet “Red Light” was a fun one. I had the lyrics: “It’s the way our eyes meet, it’s the way you see all of me” and then nothing! Chris sat for a moment and popped out with “underneath the lights of this dark city.” It was a lot like an air hockey game… we went back and forth – a few hours later, we had a rough of “Red Light.”
How do you stay sane in the studio?
I record in the dark. Usually there is a partition between the sound booth and the rest of the studio. I start to sing and then if I feel like I messed up I make strange sounds. So, honestly, I don’t think I am ever sane in the studio – haha. Seriously, some days I am off and other days I am in the “perfect zone” where I sing and it works.
Local Artist Amiena performs at House of Blues June 28.
How did you arrive at your sound - it's so polished and rich, but not over-produced, which is such a fine line to walk. How do you balance that?
The sound I am at presently was by trial and error. My first album is worlds away from this one. It was a stepping-stone. I still do not think I have arrived at “my sound” – yet, I believe I am closer. As far as the balance/production: I work with a great team. Adrian Bradford, Bryan Cook and Hans DeKline, they really did all of the work. I showed up to the studio, wrote the songs with Chris and Adrian and then I sang them. I know nothing about the production side; it’s probably better that way too.
Have you had any moments where everything came together perfectly for you as an artist?
I think when I have arrived at that point, I have lowered the bar on my expectations. Everything ultimately works out well and even sometimes to the point where I say, “Hey!! I love this” i.e. my new album – from cover to cover.
What is the most ridiculous gig you have taken on as an artist/musician?
I did an acoustic event for a charity in Santa Barbara in the public library. I remember thinking the whole time that someone was going to come in and tell Jamie Kime, Adam Hauk and I to stop. When I was a kid, the librarian was always telling me to keep it down; I kinda wished she had been in the crowd so I could just sing a few notes right at her.
What are you most excited for your fans to see at your upcoming gig at HOB on the 28th?
I am most excited to be playing again – especially in Los Angeles and to share the new songs. I am proud of the newest project, since my last album to now, I have grown a lot and I cannot wait to share it all. The best thing is that I have Jamie Kime, Chris Roy and Jon Greathouse playing with me, they bring a great twist to the songs. What you hear live is really just that… Who knows what will happen!
Tell us about your mobile app and your thoughts on the role of technology in your career.
The mobile app cracks me up! Although I confess, I do not have a Droid, so I cannot download it. I feel a little weird asking my friends to download it so I can take a look. I did ask my younger sister to, she never responded – so I am going with a “she didn’t.”
Yet, I’ve have heard via my music facebook page that it is cool.
With respect to technology and this beautiful thing called the internet, it is amazing. The duet with Chris Mann and I called “Red Light” really helped introduce me to many listeners since he was on the second season of the TV show “The Voice.” That would have never happened if it were not for iTunes and all the other outlets out there.
Then there are all these great resources out there for artist likes me from Reverbnation, CD Baby, BandPage, Twitter and, of course, Facebook – it gets bit hard to keep up with sometimes, but they are all invaluable to me.
What’s in the works?
• New music – more gigs. I am going to spend some time and concentrate on the LA area.
• I have recently developed a crazy desire to sing at California Wineries (no idea why – it just seems random and fun), and more intimate spaces.
• Another crazy idea: I am fascinated with singing our National Anthem at events – I blame Andrew Malcolm. A few years ago, he placed a video montage a fan made of me singing the National Anthem in his article in the LA Times. I received so much feedback on YouTube, good and bad – however, it prompted me to send out inquiries to local sport venues. To show just how committed I am to doing this, I went in the studio about 2 weeks ago and recorded, “God Bless America.”
• Oh, and having said that, I am actually looking to find a manager/agent to manage me as I just want to make music and sing.
• I am working with a charity abroad and am working to draw more attention to that
• Getting my song called “The Medley” which combines my two favorite classic songs, “When I Fall In Love” and the “Nearness of You” on a movie or TV show and,
• Finally getting my music on “Mornings become Eclectic” with KCRW
Serving Bel Air, Benedict Canyon, Beverly Hills. Brentwood,
Laurel Canyon, Los Feliz, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Melrose,
Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Topanga Canyon, West Hollywood,
Woodland Hills, Westwood & Hollywood Hills.