The voice of electronic music
Interview with Amba Shepherd
by Markus Thiel – July 13, 2018
If you haven’t heard of Amba Shepherd until now, rest assured you’re probably mistaken. With hits like “Apollo” or “U Are” Amba’s discography features an impressive catalog of releases in collaboration with some of the most influential forces of the electronic music scene. Working with artists like Hardwell, Porter Robinson, Paul Oakenfold, Moguai, and Tiesto, her voice and her lyrics have touched millions of people all over around the globe.
After two IDMA nominations in the category best feature vocalist and best progressive house track, Amba was also awarded with the title “Top Emerging Artist” by Entertainment Weekly US in 2017. Producers such as Hardwell, Afrojack, Martin Garrix and many more regularly call on Amba’s vocal toplines for their tracks. Aside from this, Amba also started a solo career on her own label Superrlativ to release some highly acclaimed songs including “Wide Awake & Dreaming” in 2017.
Alongside her well-deserved esteem amidst the electronic music scene she can claim over 50 million views on YouTube, 350,000 listeners on Spotify every month, three iTunes Number One Hits, ten Beatport Top 10, and more than 385,000 enthusiastic fans following her tracks via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Put this all together and you get more than a million reasons to have a chat with “the number one voice on today’s dancefloor” (as christened by DMC World) about her rocket-like career and her music.
Who inspired you to write and perform music in the first place?
My Dad is a musician so I grew up surrounded by music that was mostly classical and jazz. It has always been a very important part of my life that is to say rehearsing, choir, concert band, as well as dance class, school holiday performances and then musical theater. Music has always been the only thing that makes me truly happy! I love writing, singing, and performing; it is challenging, it pushes all of my skills to the max and it makes me feel alive.
Who introduced you to the EDM Electronic Music scene?
How did you find your way into the business?” My first record in 2010 was called “I Believe”. It was a collaboration with Australian artist Nick Galea and it shot straight to #2 on the ARIA club chart for 8-10 weeks. It was super exciting and a big success, and it really gave me confidence that I could be a full time artist. This collaboration actually came about because I heard one of Nick’s earlier records and thought he was an amazing producer. I hit him up to collaborate and he sent me a track to write on. The Australian record label One Love, a Sony affiliate, signed it — it was that simple.
Tell us about your biggest musical influence?
Oh this is hard to answer. Musical influences seep in without us knowing the full effect; and I have so many favorites. One of my heroes is Michael Jackson. His vulnerability as an artist, his stage presence, his sense of melody and his all-encompassing dedication are what have been some of my greatest influences.
What is your personal approach for writing music?
My preferred method is to pull up a track, sent by a producer or label for example, set it up in Cubase, switch on my mic and start recording topline melodies to the track. As soon as I put on headphones and sit with my mic I’m in the zone.
When it comes to composing music, do you have a favorite instrument you rely on?
I really only rely on my voice. It’s all improvisational.
Do you remember the first time listening to your own voice in a club?
I think it was with British-Canadian artist Lazy Rich at Candy’s Apartment, a tiny club in Sydney, in 2012! I had a record with Porter Robinson called “Vandalism” that everyone in that dubstep bass scene was playing.
What’s your favorite gear at the studio?
Cubase and My Studio Projects C1 Mic! Love them!
Do you have a tool or feature in Cubase you like most and if, can you describe its benefit for your workflow?
For vocal editing I love the VariAudio feature. I have tried all of the vocal editing tools out there including Logic and Melodyne but VariAudio is by far the best. It is so user-friendly, intuitive, accurate, and easy to use.
Aside from working with so many amazing people over the last years, you also started to release some really cool solo-tracks via your own label. Can we expect more of this in the future?
Yes! After reaching a level of success with my feature collaborations I really felt the need to have my own artistic voice. The support I have received for these records on my label Superrlativ has really blown me away. It was pretty risky to branch out and do it all, but widespread DJ, radio, and blog support has been incredible, and I am super grateful. Right now I am working on the next series of singles, collaborations, and my new live show.
Visit Amba Shepherd at www.ambashepherd.com.