Friday, November 25, 2005

Just Like That: An interview with Amber

Ever since "This Is Your Night" first came out in 1996, Euro-pop chanteuse Amber has had an array of songs that have been staples on the dance floors and on the pop charts. They include "Sexual (li da di)," which had a fierce remix by Thunderpuss, "Above The Clouds," and "Anyway (Men Are From Mars)". These days Amber has released her fourth album of original material, My Kind Of World, on her own label after a split with Tommy Boy Records two years ago. MKOW aims for a darker pop/rock direction a la Annie Lennox or Seal.

I had a few words with Amber, who was preparing to release the third single from the album, called "Just Like That." That song is my favorite track from the album, one of the more upbeat numbers from it. Billboard magazine refered to the track as "the album's secret weapon"; the song has the pop smarts that fans expect from Amber. Several different remixers have done their mixes of it, including Jason Nevins, Sweet Rains, and Solar City vs. DJ Rico. There is even a new ballad version of the song, which was done by Wolfram Dettki, who also produced My Kind Of World. The tracks has started to make the rounds at the various dance outlets, both in the clubs and on dance radio. You can also hear the Jason Nevins Radio Remix of "Just Like That" at Amber's MySpace page. The ten track single will be available for download on iTunes on December 6, and the physical commercial CD single will come out on Janurary 10, 2006.

What was the inspiration for the song "Just Like That?" Did the melody come first or did the lyrics?

I wrote the lyrics first. I had a good day and thought that I also needed some positive outlooking lyrics on the rather darker album My Kind Of World - I guess that you can say that this song comes as close as it can get to a "standard" Amber song- the songs that people out there expect from me. It is about finding true love and commitment and trust- the kind of relationship a person is ultimately striving for- some of them are lucky to find it- and some unfortunately never will because they look in the wrong places and do not love and respect themselves enough.

Jason Nevins are among the remixers listed that have remixed the single. What made you want to work with him?

Jason is using a rock vibe to his remixes that has crossed over and I like the fact that he is mixing it up. I am all for that - he was the one that started that and had crossed over with it and I had a feeling that he would really appreciate a track like "Just Like That"- and lucky me - he did and was very excited. I like the fact that he stuck with a lot of orignal arangements because that gives my producer Wolfram Dettki also some credit and tells me that the song is just hot the way it is...! Let's be realistic -obviously- a remixer with an already estabished name always creates an ear and people tend to listen a bit harder...BUT- quite honestly- just because you have a name out there and got a lucky shot- does not mean that you are a good musician to I really have to like the work of one in order to pay for a name! After all- it is also an investment that you are making.

How do you go choosing who'll remix your material. Word of mouth? Suggestions from fans? Seeing what is on the dance charts?

You would be surprised how I am not into looking at charts and getting into who is hot and who is not...I get approached by a lot of remixers and I let them send me material or links where I can listen to their work- or my club promoter would suggest somebody to me - soley based upon that and the overall impression- I make that decision who can touch my song and who will not. Then you still do not know if they will come out with something good - that is why I like to listen to the progress of it all inbetween so I can be constructive and work together with them to make all of us happy. I had a fantastic team of remixers on this project and I am very happy with the outcome and discipline that was put forward.

You defintely have a hand in picking the remixers now that you're running your own label. How much say did you have on the remixes when you were on Tommy Boy?

As good as none. In fact, I disliked many of the remixes.

When you were putting together the remixes for "You Move Me," the first single from the album, was that a learning experience? You had Wolfram Dettki and DJ Mike Cruz just doing those.

I was clearly also a budget question and a good tryout. I still think that Wolfram kicked out some really strong remixes but if you do not have the public name as an official "Remixer" and are in their little "sorority"- it gets hard- it is also a big political game in the you have to find the balance. I simply cannot afford thousands of $ for one remix by a name that is "hot" at that point- it is just that simple.

Seeing the tracklisting for the new single I notice there is a ballad version of "Just Like That" now. Did the recent success of D.H.T. doing both a dance and a ballad verison of "Listen To Your Heart" influence you to do that? It was easier for them to get the song on the radio than if they had just did the dance version.

Absolutely not- it was actually a birthday present by my producer Wolfram for my very recent birthday in September and I loved it- I always wanted to release a ballad to radio so badly and this song just fits both formats- everybody who has heard it in full- is touched - almost to tears partially and loves it- so it might be the one that will cross - who knows- that is up in the stars but if you do not reach for them- you will definately not get to I keep reaching and not just staring!

In the past three/four years, the popularity of dance music in America has sharply declined. With a few exceptions you hardly hear it on Top 40 radio these days. Do you have any suggestions on how to bring it back? Do you think that with the recent buzz on the latest Madonna album things might be turning around for the genre here?

I definitely think that Madonna can help other dance artists to come back or to bring a certain sound back to radio and proof that there are listeners for the genre out there. But then again- you have to realize that she has the exposure and $ for it that all the other dance artists can not buy - her face and name is known for many years- the minute her single and album comes out- you do not even want to see the marketing budget that is spend on the weeks of marketing and publicity impact that her team of tons of people are preparing a looooong time before it hits.

I am happy that she was able to accumulate those budgets in the "better and easier years" of the industry- it is impossible for other artists to spend that. What is pocket $ for one artist- is an incredible fortune for another that is simply not affordable. Development of artists is very rare these days- artists become fast food- if you do not invest in yourself to a certain extend- you become another has been very fast.

I just wanted to close this with a picture of Amber and me that was taken at Sisters Nightclub in Philadelphia back in October 2004. Thanks to Amber's assistant Asia for taking this! And thanks to Amber for doing this interview - this will be the first inteview I've done for this blog!

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Anonymous Amber said...

Great job, Chris! I am very proud of you! Thanks so much for your support!

10:20 AM  
Blogger The Divine Ms. Jimmi said...

Wow! Brava! Congrats, Chris!

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job Chris! What a great picture!!!


7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Amber: Robbert from Amsterdam here and hoping you will be back at the top of the dancecharts soon!
Still people in Holland can't believe we have a Dutch bonafide star in the USA...

12:51 PM  
Blogger freddy said...

Congrats on the interview! It was great!

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Thunderwing said...

Awesome interview, man! And you both look beautiful in that picture, especially Amber. Hope to see more interviews in the future!

3:38 AM  

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