The latest addition to the thriving force that is the Liverpool bedroom-pop scene, Amber Jay is the whizzkid making waves with her futuristic, cinematic take on the indie scene.
You could easily place Amber amongst names like The Japanese House and Marika Hackman, but if her debut EP, 'Never Too Far From A Dark Thought' is anything to go by, the girl can really hold her own.
Fresh off the back of the release of the EP, we sent quizzed Amber on her musical upbringing, the story behind 'Never Too Far From A Dark Thought' and her favourite things about the Liverpool music scene.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your musical journey so far?
I love football, I used to play in a team when I was younger. I even had trials for Liverpool FC, which was so cool as I'm a big Liverpool fan. I started playing drums when I was a kid and had lessons in the Cavern from my mom's friend who's in a Mersey beat band. Then I picked up the guitar a bit later on and started writing. I spent a long time sitting on material and not really putting anything out. I'd write songs but I didn't really ever think i could pursue music. I just didn't think I was good enough and the thought never even crossed my mind. It was other people who encouraged me and guided me towards sharing my music that really started the ball rolling. I worked with a friend who's a producer called Keeley Ray, she helped show me the ropes and alongside my friends, my parents and other industry folk they encouraged me to just start getting my music out there. I collaborated with a producer called Kurran Karbal in 2020, we worked on this EP and I really loved the sound. I could start to feel my artist identity sort of forming over the year and I suddenly had a lot of material to play with and could start to form myself as an artist.
Your debut EP landed recently - how does it feel to have that out in the world?
It feels really fulfilling to have a body of work that is finally out. I think once I release something it gives me a different perspective of the work and allows me to then grow and improve on it. The songs exist in a certain time of my life, so to have them in one place and out in the world feels like an accomplishment.
Talk us through the EP a bit - which is your favourite track and where did the inspiration behind it come from?
Pencilled Brims is definitely my favourite track. I remember getting the mixes back and I was sitting waiting for the pump to be free at the petrol station, so I stuck it on and was just hysterically laughing out of joy and disbelief that I'd made something I was happy and actually proud of. It's vulnerable, dark, mysterious but playful and goofy. If I was a song, I'd probably be Pencilled Brims. For the lyrics I took a moment of intimacy and analysed the fine details to really hone in and focus on them. The production was very much a collaboration with Kurran. We had the core of the track down but it needed more so I came up with this sort of swung middle eight section and Corben who plays keys smacked these funky keys down which made it really come to life.
Do you think ‘Never Too Far From A Dark Thought’ is an accurate representation of your sound, or do you have some surprises in store for future releases?
I think I'll be ever evolving and experimental with my music. I don't like to limit myself and really do have an open mind when approaching songs. The EP is definitely the right foot forward though and it's an accurate representation of the present. Maybe that's my future sound too but I'm not afraid to develop and try new avenues.
You’re from Liverpool! Where’s your favourite place for discovering new music in town?
I like going to the Leaf tea shop for the open mics which is really chilled. That's where I started out. Otherwise the Kazimier Gardens or Phase One always have great gigs on. Can't wait to get back to it.
Any fellow Liverpool ‘up & comers’ you’re into at the moment?
How long have you got! At the moment I'm loving Callum Crighton, Munkey Junkey, ZUZU, Beija Flo, Me and Deboe and Pixey! There's so many, I'm so lucky to be from Liverpool. The music scene is amazing.
When live music returns, what’s to be expected from an Amber Jay show?
I'm actually excited about having this EP now to play live. I want to gig with a band and play the songs out with energy. I spent a long time just gigging acoustically so I'm excited to see what having a band does for my live show and how I develop as a performer. I'm also a rubbish dancer so expect the same three moves on repeat.
Any ‘bucket list’ goals for your music?
I love the little wins. I think there's always going to be huge things that would be incredible to achieve like Grammys or selling out shows but it's all the tiny things I really appreciate. For example getting on the LIMF Academy or getting my first Radio 1 play. Or maybe someone I really admire in the local scene saying something nice about my music. They're all the things that spur you on and keep your self belief levels topped up so you can go on to achieve the bigger things.
And what’s the plan for the rest of 2021 Any news on the way?
Another record maybe...haha. I'm sitting on a bunch of songs and I just want to keep going. Jumping back into the studio is a definite at some point. To begin with I want to try and produce the songs myself, to see if there's a natural direction they take themselves in before I take them into a studio. I'm excited to challenge myself, work on my songs and develop as an artist.