Better Without Me, the latest track from independent pop artist Amber Ais, is a musical breath of fresh air in the midst of what seems like a year long winter. The songwriter’s voice floats through the melody of this single, drawing out a beautiful nostalgia paired simultaneously with upbeat sonic components.
We spoke with Ais about her process leading up to this release, the criticism she’s faced within the pop genre, and some of her motivations as an artist in 2021.
Can you dive into your journey as an artist, and specifically as a black woman in the pop music industry? With this latest release, Better Without Me, what have you found yourself hoping to establish as an artist in this specific space?
Oh my gosh yes. Like any indie artist trying to find their footing it has been difficult but still very rewarding. But I think because the genre that feels the most genuine to me is pop, being a black woman has added another level to that. Black women are often put in boxes in general but as musicians and entertainers it’s almost worse. It’s almost as if black women are only allowed to rap or sing r&b and that’s it. I found that a lot of blogs I’ve submitted to have said that my music is “generic” and made for “top 40″ but then their playlists have like a bunch of pop white girls on there that are doing music that is very similar to mine. Sometimes people just ask me ‘Amber, how come you don’t do R&B?’ or people put me in a genre that isn’t actually accurate. Like one time someone said I was ‘Neo Soul” which, if you’ve ever listened to Neo Soul you know that’s not what I do. But that honestly does not stop me, it motivates me to stay true to myself and not to change just because some white person told me to. With this release, I just want to stay true to myself while still trying to break the barrier between black and white artists. I am hoping to gain some momentum and hoping to gain some real fans that love my music because it’s genuine to me.
You’ve partnered with multiple organizations and platforms recently (Activating ARTivism, Unite The Sounds). What do these collaborations mean to you? How would you describe their importance for you as a creative, especially right now?
It was an honor because they actually reached out to me and I was like “Who, me??!!” so it was really cool! It was important because both organizations just wanted to showcase black art and support black people. Especially now, with COVID, any opportunity to perform is great but I felt like these shows had an even better level of importance because it was directed towards people of color and fighting for justice. I can’t wait to perform in front of real people though!
Another layer of your artistry you’ve been public about is your faith. How do you see these multiple aspects of your identity come into play with your art?
To me, I wouldn’t be anything without Jesus. In my head God is my creator and the reason I have breath so any songwriting or singing ability is a gift that He created me to have. So I am consistently humbled when people actually like what I do because it just reaffirms that God has called me to music.
Specifically with this single, what’s the backstory? Do you find that most of your inspiration for songwriting comes from your direct experiences?
Oh my gosh this is so embarrassing but one time I creeped on my ex-boyfriend’s instagram. I just want everyone to know that I had not done that in like three years and that was the first time I did it since we broke up! Please believe me, haha!
I just felt inadequate because I thought he was cooler and much better than me at life. A lot of my songs do come from my experiences or just how I’m feeling. I just think by being honest and vulnerable I can help other people do the same and heal.
What can listeners expect from you in the rest of 2021? Do you have any specific goals, or full length projects you are working toward at the moment?
I need to stop spilling the beans about everything haha but there will be more music! With the music I’m working on, I want to take it up a notch visually and I have some music videos, merch, and online content in the works! Super excited to share it all but it will happen in due time!
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“Better Without Me“ release date: 02.26.21