Amber-Simone’s video for her latest single Strawberry Kisses finds the singer running into an ex at the supermarket. What begins as a moment of commonplace heartache gradually evolves (spoiler alert) into a discotheque fantasy, complete with the reunited couple dancing together on top of a checkout counter. As exaggerated and playful as the video is, it’s not that difficult to imagine a similar scenario playing out in real life when one of Amber-Simone’s songs comes on. When you hear Strawberry Kisses, it’s hard not to start dancing. In fact, it’s almost impossible not to.
Amber-Simone’s debut single, the understated Taught Me Better was only released in 2017. Since then, the artist has fine-tuned her sound. The result? A sleek combination of disco, soul, and pop — so clean and distinct that it’s hard to believe she isn’t a seasoned pro of the industry. Now, the singer has her sights set on mastering new projects, including learning to play the bass and a debut album. As 2019 approaches, we catch up with Amber-Simone to discuss her future, her influences, her ambitions, and how she came to develop her distinctive vocal style.
What inspired the idea for the Strawberry Kisses video?
The song itself was somewhat of a celebration and was me pretty much projecting all my gooey, loved up-ness into the song. It came at a time where I was just so relieved to find my relationship taking a turn and gaining this new lease of life after a rocky few months. I think what the song became is definitely what that time felt like.
I knew I wanted to create a visual for Strawberry Kisses that mirrored its playfulness and could just be something feel good. Collaborating with Ali Kurr was amazing and she jumped at the idea of making something fun, so after discussing some background on where the song came from she suggested the supermarket idea and voilá!
What was your musical background like growing up?
I grew up in a household with a constant stream of dancing, house parties and music, where house, soul and Latin grooves have always been a big part of what feels like home and I feel will always be my foundation. When I hit my early teens, I definitely expanded and started exploring new genres more — discovering bands and electronic music which was probably one of the most important things for me at the time, but also it was when I first experienced live musicians and felt like it was something I wanted to be a part of.
Which artists have you been listening to the most recently?
I’m pretty obsessed with Children Of Zeus’ [latest] album, Travel Light, at the moment! It feels so much in its own space in terms of the journey it takes me on when I listen to it back to back.
Who are your favourite vocalists?
To me, I feel like I find tones are the most impressive thing about vocalists. Vocal acrobatics can be over done, not to say that when its done right I’m not blown away, but a distinctive tone gets me every time. To be honest, though I’m not sure who my [absolute] favourite vocalist is, I feel like appreciate something different about each artist I love.
What about favourite bassists?
This is still a question I’m trying to answer myself. I’m still so new to the bass world — all I know is it feels damn good.
How has living in Hertfordshire? Did the music scene there influence or inspire you?
I moved to Hertfordshire from Leytonstone when I was a teenager and that change felt pretty drastic. I think still being so close to London allowed me to make sure I was in town most days, so I never lost influence from such a rich mix of people and culture. I do feel like exposure is everything and I’ve been lucky enough to have met some really inspiring people.
Have you always had the same singing voice, or was it something you had to discover over time?
I think it’s definitely developed over time and gradually turned into what it is now. I grew up belting Whitney Huston with my cousins, I think we can agree I defiantly don’t do that anymore. I remember hearing [the] Scissor Sisters’ song Laura and at the time it was so different [from] anything I’d ever heard before. So I started playing with different tones and experimenting with how I could change my voice to create something interesting.
What do you enjoy most about singing?
It’s a release.
Has anything about your approach to songwriting or recording changed since releasing your first single in 2017?
I feel like moving forward I’m wanting to come at a more live, minimal angle. I think it’s not so much a change but more of an awareness of where I’d like a full body of work to sit when it comes to that time.
What has been the most valuable advice you’ve received as a performer? Or the most important lesson you’ve learned?
I just think it’s about trusting my own intuition with it and not letting others take the lead of your own creativity.
What are your goals for the future as an artist?
I ultimately want to share albums and do live shows that I myself am proud of, making sure I grow each time. I want to always have the mindset that each body of work will be my best to date but I can always do more. Being my most authentic self through this whole process is the most important thing.
Amber-Simone’s latest track, ‘Strawberry Kisses’, is out now. Listen to it here.
words. Matthew Later