Chatting About What Inspires Amber Mark

Amber Mark is a triple threat. She’s a beautiful singer, songwriter, and producer with something to say. Inspired by her family, this unique and soulful artist is gaining momentum very quickly as she is currently touring with Glass Animals. We had a chance to talk to her about what inspires her and what it’s like to play with a live band.

Sensible Reason: You started touring with Glass Animals just over a year after releasing your first pieces of music. Are things going too fast for you, or is it just fast enough?

Amber Mark: It’s fast and slow, I don’t know how to describe it. The tour is going fast and slow but I’m happy how people are responding to it. Things are going quick in the sense that I don’t have time to process what is happening, but I’m happy people are responding well. I never thought I’d be where I am right now this quickly, that’s for sure.

SR: Some artists are inspired by being on the road, while others focus their efforts when they are only in the studio. Are you someone that is inspired by the tour life, or do you prefer to create in the studio?

AM: I think I’m more of a mental creator when it comes to being on tour. I do like to do stuff in my bedroom when it comes to writing and production and be alone more, so it’s hard to be producing when I’m in a van with 5 people. But I definitely get inspired by it, and I write down a lot of ideas. Especially being in a band with other musicians and stuff like that. They all take turns playing the music on stage and I haven’t heard a lot of new music in a while because I’ve been mostly listening to my own stuff or what I’m writing. It’s time that I give myself to gather inspiration.

SR: That leads well into another question I had, what is it like transitioning from producing in the studio to working on stage with live musicians?

AM: I was a little worried that it wouldn’t be a good transition or it wouldn’t transition well. But I was told by my music director and keyboardist for the band that my music actually translates really well from the recording to the live setting. I really love performing and I love being on stage, so I get really excited about that side of things. I still get nervous with working with other musicians in the studio, I don’t know why it’s still intimidating for me.

SR: In your track “Lose My Cool” you tell a story of drinking and coping with emotions. Tell me what you were going through at that moment in your life and what “losing your cool” means in that context?

AM: I was very angry, I think. I bottled up a lot of emotions and stuff. It was after my mom had passed away and I had feelings of regret with her and I, things I had said to her, things we had fought about. I did have the opportunity to say goodbye, but I felt like it wasn’t enough, so I kept a lot of that inside. I started exploding on my friends and being brutally honest with people with my opinions. I purposefully pushed people away and I did it in a very negative way. I think the song was about getting all of that out and letting go, saying ‘I’m sorry if it hurt you but I am dealing with this and I need to be angry right now.’ I had been drinking quite a bit at that time, too, but the drinking didn’t make me aggressive.

SR: Does it make you nervous to be so transparent with your music?

AM: With that, not really, because I feel like it was something that needed to be spoken about. Everyone has lost someone and I think it’s something that everyone deals with. It needed to be something that would uplift you than depress you. I didn’t want it to be a sad album, I wanted it to be something to help you get back to yourself. It was easy for me to be transparent with that. Some time had gone by and it was easier for me to express what I had been going through when I put it out. I think I’m having a harder time now being transparent because it’s more current things in my life that are happening, people that are still with me and still around me. So certain things that aren’t very nice I feel like I have to be careful what I say cause I could lose this person if I’m too harsh. I have to figure out a way to be honest with myself and be honest with the listeners and do it in a way that everyone will accept, or a way I won’t lose friends.

SR: I see, because before it was grief, which is something everyone goes through VS “ok you’ve pissed me off.”

AM: Right! And I wouldn’t say anyone’s names but they would know who they are so I have to figure out a way to say things that are personal to me but general enough that I won’t hurt any feelings.

SR: Do you think that would change the way you approach your writing if you’re editing yourself in that way?

AM: I am really afraid, I don’t want to have to edit myself. I want to stay honest with myself and what I’m feeling and keep that alive. Sound wise and production wise, I do think it will be different. I think I will keep some of that Indian vibe alive, I really wanted to incorporate that in my sound because the EP was inspired a lot by her and she would have lived out the rest of her life in India if she could have. I also really loved those sounds, so I definitely will incorporate that. I don’t think it will be oriented fully towards those sounds, though, I would like to explore more with sound. But I want to keep being honest.

SR: You gathered so much inspiration from your mom. Tell me about the relationship you had with her and why you think she’s such a huge creative muse for you?

AM: Well, she was my mother, first off. She was crazy and out there, her mind was definitely in a different universe than the rest of the world. She loved to travel, we were always traveling around Asia and Europe. I think the influence had to do with the sound and the places she brought me to and where I was raised based on her lifestyle of traveling. She was a creative type and was Ok with me doing whatever but I think she was really happy I always wanted to pursue music. She was always very helpful and said things like “Do whatever makes you happy,” or “Life is just a dream, surrender,” sometimes it would really annoy me especially in my teenage years. She was always kind of a hippie like that.

SR: You have a handful of samples in your tracks, where did you acquire those?

AM: A lot of those are from a library that I downloaded from Googling classical Indian singers, especially male singers. I really liked that low end that they collected in their voice. I found the library that had a ton of recordings and I bought that package and it turned into a new template. I would, of course, pitch it down and make sure it was the right key and things like that.

SR: In “Monsoon,” is that your mother you have sampled in there?

AM: Yes, that’s my mom. She says “Hello, hello, hello” and at the end, it was a conversation that I recorded us having on a train as I was leaving to go visit New York. In the clip, she’s talking to be in German and I’m trying to tell her to speak English because it was for something. Her voice is also in the Intro to the first track on the EP as well.

SR: What other artists have been huge influences for you? When you were traveling with your mom did any artists stand out to you?

AM: This artist called Premm Joshua, I don’t think he’s really well known in American but in India, he was known to the Westerners really well. He was always sold at the tourist stands, he was one of the most popular artists at least when I was there. He was a huge influence on the EP. He did a great job incorporating that old Indian sound in his work. I listened to him a lot, mostly because my mom listened to him a lot, but I liked it quite a bit. When it comes to vocals, I don’t really know. There are of course the artists that you listen to when you’re young like Earth, Wind & Fire and Sade, Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald. Those were always inspirational when I was a kid and I listen to them still to this day and think that I’m listening to it for the first time.

One last question: What social media outlet is your guilty pleasure?

AM: Instagram. Definitely. It might be everyone else’s but I’m always on there sharing memes with friends and things like that. I waste a lot of time on Instagram.

Ashley Cizek

Went to school at UW-Madison, graduating with a BA in psychology. I hula-hoop, I write, I enjoy sunlight.

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