Amaarae, the enigmatic 24-year-old Ghanian singer, songwriter, sound engineer and DJ has released her latest single, ‘Spend Some Time’ featuring Wande Coal. Channelling power and transcendent presence, Amaarae maintains a striking aesthetic which is a momentum that fiercely pervades in both her sound and videos…
What was the inspiration behind the video for ‘Spend Some Time’?
I’m super into Diana Ross and Cher, so it was that real seventies diva inspiration. There is a shot of me on a red Ottoman, the camera is doing a 360 around me. It was loosely inspired by Donna Summer’s ‘Love to Love Me Baby’. That was the inspiration, highlighting the aesthetics of the seventies, putting the lense on women in a way that is beautiful, sensual. I thought it was important to showcase women in a way that they typically aren’t.
The lense you’re speaking of, was that something you were thinking about when writing the song?
The song was more so about that sense of community and warmth, not even about a particular person. I didn’t think about the visuals as I was making the song. I was actually at a friend’s house when I made the song, I had received a call to work with Wande. I think we were waiting for Wande to get ready, or something like that, in the meantime I kind of just recorded the song and put it together.
You have talked a lot about colour and how it helps you to express yourself. What colour would you choose to represent your current phase?
I’d say right now I’m in a transitional period, not only in my sound, but in trying to grow my audience. So there is a level of uncertainty that comes with that, so from that, I would choose grey. As it is a grey area. Outside of that I am hopeful, yet passionate, so red also. The third colour would be black, I wear black a lot, and it is militant and powerful; I’m certain, powerful yet militant.
You have travelled and experienced living in a lot of places, do you think they have saturated you, formed a part of your identity?
I think, specifically, from living in Atlanta, Georgia. I was right on the cusp of American music and I got to see this music refine itself and transition into voices we recognise today. That inspired me in such an incredible way. My biggest influencers are rappers, rappers like Andre 3000, T.I. and Missy Elliot. The way they banded together and made Atlanta a thing, it is so beautiful and so inspirational. That time period from about 2003 to 2006 was so important for me, it inspired me to think about lyrics, to think about pockets, about writing.
Is it difficult to navigate a musical culture that often defines femininity, without much room for individual input?
I haven’t found it as difficult, I think because I started so early on, not only as an artist but as an individual who tried to test boundaries no matter what. For example, coming from Ghana and having such an ambiguous and androgynous look, helping people not feel threatened by it, but intrigued by it. They see they can express themselves in a certain way. I had pink blonde hair in my early twenties, everybody kind of looked at me like ‘Okay…’ and then they got into it. Fast forward to March, I came back to the studio I had been working at and all the boys had pink blonde hair. That to me was badass.
So I started changing the colour of my hair to purple or red. I saw the guys starting to do green or blue. That started a domino effect. Now if you come to any spot where people between the ages of 18 to 30 are, you will see somebody with coloured hair. I’m not saying I introduced that change, but I’m saying as a result of me being bold and saying, ‘I can go for this colour, even if it is Taboo in my country’; I feel I was able to spark people’s imagination. It has never been something I’ve been afraid of.
You’ve got a lot of exciting things coming up, along with this militant energy you are moving with, what is the vision for the future?
Right now I have the track ‘Spend Some Time’ which is out, along with exhibiting more of that militant energy. I’m most excited about working on my next full body of work. For the past couple of months I’ve just been in the research stages, listening to different music and truly deciding what direction to go in. I want to explore my rap side, as I was rapper first, thinking about how to consolidate my influences. I’m excited for that journey, I haven’t started recording yet, but just seeing what works and moving forward from there. Expressing my growth through that project.
You can watch the video for ‘Spend Some Time’ feat. Wande Coal below:
By Anastasia Bruen