Introducing Soulful Queen Amaarae

Wednesday 19 June 2019

As a DJ, sound engineer, songwriter, and singer, Amaarae is a soulful queen that is steadily creating her own path in the R&B and Neo-Soul genres. Hailing from Ghana the emerging artist is gaining huge traction within the industry, from being named Apple Music Africa: Favourite New Artist in April 2018, to being featured in Vogue’s Top 100 style influencers.

After the success of her debut EP Passionfruit Summers, the eclectic songstress is back with a bang in the form of her new track Spend Some Time, featuring Wande Coal.

We got a chance to chat with Amaarae about everything from her visuals for Spend Some Time, upcoming music and more…

We are LIVING for your music, especially your newest track Spend Some Time with Wande Coal. How did this track come into fruition? 

Spend Some Time is the simplest track I’ve done as far as the recording and writing process is concerned. I had that song written in my head for months before I met Wande for the first time. He was staying with a mutual friend, I went by to say hello to him on a Friday and by Monday he invited me over to record. I was waiting for him to finish showering and come down and in the process my engineer Mike was like hey, let’s lay something down, it took about 30 minutes to lay the vocals, he came in an hour later, he loved what he heard, he freestyled over it for like 10 minutes and boom. That was the record.

The song is giving us, tropical chill vibes, was that the intention when deciding the sound for the single?

I love tropical chill vibes but I didn’t set our with the intention for this song to have that specific sound or mood. This is one of the very few songs that I just didn’t overthink, I let the inspiration wash over me and I took it from there.

The video for the track is stunning. Can you go into the concept of it and what you wanted to create? 

Thank you! I really love the visual as well. I just wanted to pay homage to the divas of the late 70s. And we took inspiration from everyone from Donna Summer to the early James Bond movies to Eartha Kitt. The goal was just to highlight women being their beautiful sensual selves and having a great time while doing it. 

Your EP Passionfruit Summers is the perfect mix of R&B and neo-soul. What was the creative process like for the record?

Passionfruit Summers happened at a very vulnerable time for me. I started working on it in my junior year in college and this was such a challenging time for me. I was fresh out of a relationship with someone I was convinced was going to be the love of my life, I had just fudged a cool opportunity where I had a great studio to myself for 3 months and all the producers I wanted to work with and I came out with nothing worth listening to. I was beating myself up about not being good enough or strong enough to persevere and I just needed somewhere to lay low,  lick my wounds and figure myself out. I found this solace in my college apartment. I turned my bedroom to a mini studio and I was just writing song every night.

I met a really great guy named Allure at an open mic night at Apache in Atlanta it turned out he was a producer and an amazing one at that. I would invite him over to the house and make him plantains and we would just write and write all day. Then I met another guy named Elijah bane on SoundCloud and it turns out he lived in Columbus, Georgia and he was visiting Atlanta soon. He came to my place one night and I played him the demo for happy mistakes and he turned it into something I couldn’t have imagined. I met another insane singer/songwriter Zac Williams that same year and I would go to his frat house or he would come to my apartment and we would jam and write songs and that was the birth and evolution of Passionfruit Summers. Nursing my heartbreak at 339 East College Ave!

 Are there any artist that you have a look toward for inspiration?

 So many! So many. Billie Holiday, Stevie Nicks, Anthony Kedis, D’Angelo, Mariah Carey, Sade, LAMB & No Doubt era Gwen Stefani, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliot, Mystikal, Jay Z, Ashanti, Black Eyes Peas, UGK, Every rapper on Swisha House in ‘05, Sugafree, E40, Nirvana, The Vaselines, The Meat Puppets, The Foo Fighters, Paramore, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, the list truly goes on and on. 

Based in Ghana, do you look toward the culture for inspiration as well?  

One hundred percent. What people don’t know about west Africans is how much we truly love music and how much we enjoy discovering new music from all over the world and how that music in turn, influences us. I was listening to Chic Corea and Ella Fitzgerald as a 7 year old in Ghana. I was listening to Sade, Scarface, Big Pun, Fat Joe, TLC, The Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Aaliyah. All in Ghana. I didn’t go to the west to hear about these artists. My uncles had tons and tons of different CDs all different genres and different artists and I just used to take it all in. At that time those western artists were popping we had our own hiplife and hi-life communities back home that were interpolating these western sounds with traditional drum rhythms. Legends like Ofori Amponsah, Daddy Lumba, Daasebre Gyamenah, Reggie Rockstone and Obrafour were the first to teach young Africans how to really be hip with it. 

Apple Music Africa named you Favourite New Artist in April 2018, how does it feel to know that your music is touching so many people?  

It was great to be named Apple Music Africa’s Favorite artist of the month, it was such a lovely honor and it definitely helped me to reach a wider audience but right now I want more, im focused on achieving more. To be honest, It doesn’t feel like my music has touched a lot of people just yet. I’m still a growing artist so from the inside looking outward I’m always focused on how do I do more, how do I connect to more people, how do I tell stories to them/for them in a better way. 

Are there any plans for more new music? Another EP or debut album? 

There’s definitely a project in the works. I’m so excited about it, I’m in the research and idea phase now, I’m listening to a lot of music and taking in inspiration. You’re really going to see how all the artists that I mentioned earlier are influencing this project in minor and major ways. My next project is going to be very diverse, I’m taking it way back to when I was a kid and all the music I was listening to from 1999-2005 and how it shaped me and how the music those artists listened to shaped them. When I do pull this off, it’s going to be a game changer for me. I know it.

Check out Amaarae video for her new track Spend Some Time below!