AMI Wants Fans to Love More With “Smile”
Written by Vocalo Radio on September 23, 2020
Classically-trained instrumentalist, producer and solo artist AMI soars in new EP “Suite in A – Desires.” After touring with SZA and Smino, Raphael Saadiq and Jamila Woods, and playing keys for Lizzo on SNL, AMI is developing her creative identity in new ways during the pandemic.
“Suite in A – Desires” is part one of AMI’s translation of classical music into her contemporary multi-genre style; “Smile” is the EP’s feel-good anthem and made its way onto our “In Rotation” playlist.
Bekoe: You’re tuned in with your boy Bekoe, the illest on middays, and on the line, I have a multi- talent. I mean, she does some amazing things. I had the pleasure of seeing her perform at Windy Fest back in 2019. She goes by the name of AMI. How are you doing, AMI?
AMI: I’m doing well. How are you doing?
B: I’m doing pretty good. I mean, you know, for those listening, let’s talk a little bit about your background. Let’s talk about what led you into music.
AMI: So I’ve kind of just always been intrigued by music, even when I was a child. I was raised in, you know, the Black church. And it was just always amazing to me to see people interact with each other, just based off of what they were hearing, not even based off of, like what they were saying to each other. And that was just so captivating to me as a kid. So I started playing drums in church, and then I later on picked up piano. And then when I picked up piano it was just, you know, I’ve been rocking ever since. So I went to Central State University in Ohio. I have a really big background in classical music – that’s kind of what my album speaks to, that structure and that texture. After I graduated, I started a band in Chicago, started doing a lot of gigs, jam sessions and then I started touring.
B: So you’re originally from?
AMI: I’m originally from Gary, Indiana.
B: Got you, okay.
AMI: That’s where I was born and raised, yeah. But I was always, I have family in Chicago. And I was always doing a lot of, you know, programs and camps and stuff like that in Chicago growing up, so.
B: I mean, you up the street.
B: And that’s the home of Michael Jackson.
AMI: Right, right!
B: You know what I’m saying? Now, you know, you have a lot of career highlights. Let me speak on some of these highlights so people can know what you’ve been doing now. You’ve toured in the Jimmy Lee [tour], with Raphael Saadiq and Jamila Woods, as the keyboardist. You were also on Saturday Night Live with Lizzo as the keyboardist. Of course, you went on tour with Jamila Woods for her Legacy! Legacy! tour, and Ctrl with SZA and Smino. I mean, how was that for you, touring you know, 2017, 2019, a little bit in 2020, and then it just came to a halt with the pandemic? So…
AMI: Oh, man, yeah.
B: How is it for you in general, going from touring to venues being closed? How has that hurt you?
AMI: You know, it’s been an interesting year. And, you know, obviously, none of us expected it to go this way. It has been very, very difficult because it’s just been a lot of adjusting. You know, I work in music full time. So just figuring out like, ‘Okay, how are other ways that I can make money?’ Because the way that I’m making – that I was making money, I’m not making money in that way no more. But you know, I’m very grateful because I feel like I’ve been able to really take some time and sit and develop other parts of my life this year, like other parts of my creativity, and I just really stay in tune with, you know, who I am emotionally, mentally and spiritually so that’s been beautiful for me as well.
B: You know, you still working. You got an EP that you recently released. I mean, break down the EP, it’s “Suite in A – Desires,” so please break down this four-track EP for the world.
AMI: “Desires,” the EP is a part of a bigger series of music, which is really my first album, the name of the album is entitled “Suite in A.” A suite is a term that kind of leans into that classical structure. So, similar to a sonata, in which the music is broken into movements and the movements are grouped, the music and the movements is grouped by mood, or key or tempo or whatever the composer decided to group them by. So “Desires” is the first movement from my album, entitled “Suite in A.” I have two more EPs, or two more movements, that are going to be released very, very, very soon. I can’t drop some dates yet, but it’s on the way. Everything is literally finished, so I’m just getting the last, you know, the last little finishing touches on everything.
B: Well we’ve been enjoying the music as well, you know, we appreciate you for sending us over “Smile.” I mean, what type of mood were you in when you made “Smile”?
AMI: I originally wrote “Smile.” I started off kind of like a song for my mom. I just, I love her and I just be like, ‘I want to put a smile on your face.’ And then I kind of just drew from other experiences and other interactions with, you know, other people, like to write that song. But yeah, it’s literally that, you know what I’m saying? It’s like, man, I just, I want people to feel good listening to this. I want them to feel, you know, inspired to love, you know, more and to feel like they can be more vulnerable and more open and just more, just … whatever the best version of themselves, you know. So, I love that record a lot.
Interview edited for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca.