FEATURED ARTIST 2: AMERIE [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Posted on September 25, 2009 by Lola
ILUVLOLA.NET got a chance to interview Amerie earlier this week, while she was promoting her new album “In Love and War,” which is scheduled to be released on November 3rd under Def Jam. This is Amerie’s 4th studio album since her first single “Why don’t we fall in love,” in 2002 from her debut album “All I Have.” Amerie spoke about the album, her work ethics, and her collaboration with Lil Wayne on her second single “Heard ‘em All.” A video without Wayne for the single was released just after our interview [Sept 22nd]. When we spoke, Amerie mentioned Lil Wayne definitely appearing in the video. Could there be a second cut featuring Wayne on the way?
Read the interview to find out more or listen to the audio clip included below.
Audio Clip: Amerie talks about working with Lil Wayne on her single “Heard ‘em All”]
ILL: Your album “In love and war” is slated for a November release. The initial release date was in August I believe. How do you feel about it dropping in November?
AMERIE: I feel great. When they were doing the release dates, nothing was really set. They were more just like ideas and I was still working on the album, so I was like “uhh that’s not happening” [laughing] November is really good.
ILL: Are you a last minute person with it the albums or do you actually wrap them up and have them ready for the release date?
AMERIE: Um it depends. You can’t really know when you’re going to be finished. In my mind I like to have an idea of what we’re looking at. Until it’s all done you never know, because it may not be finished yet. When I put together my album, for me, is making sure that it’s a solid album and it’s something you can listen to through and through. That’s my goal. Even the song order is very important. Unless I feel like the album is giving the story and picture that I want overall, it’s just not done yet.
ILL: Ah so then you’re about telling a story from song 1-14 rather than putting a bunch of hits together?
AMERIE: Well I focus from song to song, but before I start recording I know what overall sound I want. It’s a sonic thing. Usually I know sonically what elements I really want, and what I want the album to feel like. With my last album “Because I love it,” which was released overseas, I knew I wanted hip-hop and soul, but I wanted to mix it with 80’s new wave. I wanted a mesh of that, so I did that. With this album, I wanted to combine hip-hop, soul, and a little rock. That’s what I was going toward with the last album and I wanted to go even further with this one, but no like 80’s new wave or anything. I wanted to go away from synthesized sounds and more towards a natural instrumentation. Lyrically for this project it was kind of like a concept album. I really wanted to focus on times in relationship, and if there were going to be any songs about how everything is wonderful, it would be about how everything is wonderful now that we have been through those things in the past, and we’ve moved past it.
ILL: Does your album reflect you as a person, or your journey as an artist?
AMERIE: I think both. Because for the lyrical part of the album, it was about things that I had actually been through in the past, actual situations, or situations that I have seen my friends go through. So they are very real situations. Sonically the album reflects who and where I am as an artist. It’s so important for me to maintain the integrity of who I am as an artist on an album, which is why I don’t do just anything or work with jut anyone. I have to make sure that when I’m working with people there’s a vibe there. And it’s not just about being a big name producer. It’s really more about the sound and the vibe and the energy and doing something fresh and different. And it’s not doing something different just to be different, but because it’s exciting and it’s the moment I’m in. In the beginning I know what I want. I usually work by myself. I take a bunch of tracks and create it from there…like create the bulk of the sound of the album. Throughout that time I’m still working with different people. That’s how I ended up working with these producers that we found on Myspace. M-Phazes did the “Pretty Brown” track, and he came from this battle of the beats seminar. My manager found him there so it’s all these creative interesting ways that the music comes together in the beginning. After that process, I will start meeting with different producers and it’s easier for them too because they get to hear what I’ve created already and they can catch a vibe and not have me explain it. Then we take it from there.
ILL: Your first 3 albums also featured work with Rich Harrison, who primarily co-wrote and produced your first album “All I Have,” but is not featured in this one. Was that a conscious decision?
AMERIE: We didn’t work together on the last album “Because I love it,” but you’re right, we did work together on the first two. It’s really just a time thing. He has his own company and has been doing a lot of in house stuff. But hopefully we’ll get together on the next project because we have a lot of different chemistry.
ILL: There is so much music being put out there by different artists right now. With other R&B divas and vocalists, where do you feel your album is going to fit in?
AMERIE: I’ve never really thought about how my album is going to fit in, because I always like to just do what I do. I stay in that moment of the creative space of it. There is a plethora of artists out there of course, but when it comes to music is more of a one on one thing. It’s you and it’s the listener. The way that they feel about your music and the way that it moves them or doesn’t move them. For me I focus on wondering how my fans will feel about it, but even then I don’t create that way. When you first create your first album, you don’t have any fans. So you can’t really create thinking “What will my fans think” because you don’t have any fans…you are new. So I think it’s important to approach every project with a clear head so that it can be as pure as it can be. Because I do have fans now, I do wonder how they will like it or react to it. Thankfully I have great fans and the ones that have been there…not just the ones who buy music because there’s a difference between people that buy music and fans. People that buy your music are people who are into what you’re doing right now, but fans, they’ve been with you since the beginning, but they’re very much into you as an artist, not just your songs. I do always hope that my fans love every project that I put out.
ILL: Do you think that this album will reach a new audience as well or mainly please the fans that you’ve gained through the years?
AMERIE: [Thinking] I don’t know. I get surprised sometimes when I met people and they have heard my stuff. I really don’t know. My first album was very hip-hop/R&B, my second album had more up-tempo songs on there as well as being hip-hop/Soul. My third album was very hip-hop/soul/80’snew wave, which a lot of people loved, and this one is hip-hop/soul/rock so I have no idea…[laughing]
ILL: I checked out the sampler on your site and noticed the songs had more of an edge to them, so when you mention that, I know what you mean.
ILL: Your second single “Heard ‘em all” features Lil Wayne on the official remix. How did it come together, how was it to work with him?
Lil Wayne is great. I’ve liked him since he was with Cash Money…I mean he’s probably been doing it longer than that, but since he came on my radar in like 1997. So I’ve always liked what he does, and I love his energy. For me it was just awesome working with him. Of course I like the stuff that he’s done recently as well, but he’s just really into the artistry. He’s really into being an artist and I think that’s awesome. Because sometimes people are into the life, but not into the art of it.
ILL: Will he be making an appearance in the video?
Well you know we’ve been trying to schedule a way to get that shot and that’s what we’re trying to do now so I’m not sure yet…but it could happen in the next couple of days. Oh wait, no that’s right, it’s not happening in the next couple of days. It’s supposed to happen this month though. So that’s definitely happening
AMERIE: [laughing.] I forget so much stuff happens sometimes, I can’t remember everything.
ILL: I saw the behind the scenes video online today, and Wayne wasn’t in it, and there were fans wondering whether he was going to be making an appearance, which is why I asked.
AMERIE: He definitely is. We just have to do that shot, which we’ve been trying to do….and he just had a baby and he has another baby coming soon, we of course don’t know what day is going to be so [sighs] hopefully it goes…no I’m not going to say hopefully it goes down; it is going to go down [laughing]
ILL: Your first 3 albums were released under Colombia. You are now signed to Def Jam. What was the situation that made you decide to leave and sign to a new label?…and why def Jam?
AMERIE: Sony was always going through all these different changes and creatively things can suffer when there are so many changes on the executive level. It’s something that I thought about for a couple of years before letting them know that I wanted to leave. The reason why I chose Def Jam had to actually to do with L.A. Reid. L.A. and I had been speaking over the years, just here and there about possibly doing something. But I was obviously signed so we couldn’t do that. When I started thinking about making that move, I definitely thought that was somewhere I wanted to go in our talks and it ended up being a really great thing. Also def jam has great marketing and radio promo. I thought all in all would be a great move, and I made that decision, and I’m happy I did.
ILL: Anything else that you’d like to add or that you’d like your fans to know?
AMERIE: I really hope that they love the album. It’s something that I definitely put a lot of work in to and I really love it myself and I really hope that they love it as well.
Amerie – Heard ‘em All [Original Version] Directed by Anthony Mandler
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