Amélie Swann Reflects on her Budding Career

In this interview, we are talking to dark pop artist Amélie Swann and getting an insight into her start and progress with music along with some fun facts you’d like to know.

What first got you into music?

My parents! I started guitar lessons at age 6 even though I wanted to play piano because my Dad said girls who play guitar are cooler, haha. So yeah, I started with instrumental music and moved towards vocals in middle school. I had a severe stutter as a kid so music, especially singing, was crucial for me not falling apart.

Who inspired you to make music?

I like this question because it’s tough to answer. I’d say a combination of my parents and female rock stars in general. I really wanted to be like The Donnas and Liz Phair growing up. I just thought they were so damn cool.

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

Another hard question, haha, I love it! My music is generally dark pop with disco, funk and trip-hop influences. One of my friend’s described it as up-beat Lana Del Rey. I like that description best. 

What is your creative process like?

It always goes one of two ways…either I come up with poetry and write music to the words, or I write a bass line and add all of the other instruments and then go back and write lyrics. The former is rarer than the latter, but I do enjoy when I write the words first; it just makes the song have way more weight then if they’re an afterthought.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

I think Trent Reznor would be the person I’d love to collab with most, just because I like to write industrial heavy synth stuff too so it’d make sense. But the Gorillaz would also be dope. Also Daft Punk if they ever un-retire… or Portishead. Love me some trip-hop.

If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?

Phantogram or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Both bands have powerful female vocalists who I look up to. Oooh, or Meg Myers. She’s dope.

What is one message you would give to your fans?

You don’t have to have fancy equipment to make awesome music, seriously! I wrote a whole EP on a shitty IPad with the free Garageband App that comes with it. I recorded my vocals with an SM-58 in between two mattresses in my living room. Don’t buy expensive crap, just make what sounds good. And save money for mixing/mastering. That’s where the magic happens.

What is the most useless talent you have?

I can play the bagpipes and the bassoon. Not super useful although they are both awesome and underutilized instruments!

What do you like most about playing music?

I want to say the rush of the music and the way it makes me feel, but that’s not true. I like when I’m able to write a song and listen back and edit it just right so it sounds like something others might want to actually listen to. I have worked on song-writing for over 15 years and I feel like now I’m starting to get what it means to make something worthy of more than a listen at the rent’s place. 

Who’s your ideal musician to collaborate with and why?

An ideal musician to collab with has an open mind, but a strong sense of self. You want someone who’s not a control freak but is still giving you support. Also, just for me, I’m kinda a wild child so someone who’s even-keeled will likely ensure work actually gets done. 

Are there any musicians who inspire you? What qualities do you admire about them?

Yes, totally! The bold inspire me. David Bowie, Bjork, the Tune-Yards, the Knife…I could go on. I just like how they do what they want and it’s so good at the same time. You get the sense that they are/were truly authentic. That genuine spirit inspires me. I try to be myself too although I need to find a flashier version of myself lol.

What’s the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?

My manager, Frank Cervantes, gave me some great advice when I signed onto the label… “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” ( in regards to the musical process and achieving some sort of fame ) I remind myself of this adage a lot as it keeps me focused and not overly emotional.

Listen to Amélie’s “Must Be” on Best New Indie

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