Meet Amber Mark a well-travelled, self-produced music pioneer, whose ability to incorporate culturally diverse melodies and personal stories into her music is just second nature.
Nearly a year ago now a soulful vocal deliciously wrapped amongst tribal undertones and futuristic R&B instrumentalism surfaced from the internet. A promising debut titled ‘S P A C E’ has ranked up over 500k listens across SoundCloud and Spotify alone. And this wasn’t just a one hit wonder for Amber Mark; it was an introduction to a rather thrilling career ahead.
I wait anxiously as the phone line crackles. My questions spiralling in my head as I read them from a tatty notebook. Finally the line breaks. A voice that’s built from an array of culturally intriguing accents speaks. It’s Amber. She has just taken a lunch break from what seems to be, a rather hectic promo day. We chat for a while over the lunch menu.
“I’ve been pretty busy today. I’ve just come from an interview and now I’m having a little lunch. We’ve got pasta, meatballs, and some other Italian dishes.”
I begin to talk about her music. Its pretty clear that music comes naturally to Amber. The way she fluidly opens up about her tracks, delicately illustrating how each track came to life. Her music takes a very personal seat; it’s an art form where she reflects on individual life experiences.
“I think there is something really beautiful about honesty in music. I really enjoy when artists make their music like that, you can always hear it and that’s something I try to really accomplish in mine.
“I definitely feel like its easier for me to write about things that I’m feeling. Sometimes its kind of hard at times, because I’m going through a lot of stuff, but then it’s easy to just let it all out.”
Currently based in the concrete metropolis of New York, Amber reflects upon a culturally diverse up bringing. It’s pretty clear that travelling the world from a very young age has added that extra spark to Amber’s creative output. Stints in Germany, Thailand, India and Nepal have all left their mark on Amber. Enriched Indian style melodies manage to wangle there way through layers of instrumentals and euphoric vocals. Amber’s music is gleaming with diversity. It’s a mash up of genres and personal loves that make Mark’s music intriguing to the ear.
“For me when I first thought about why I try to incorporate all these sounds into my music, one I already really like the sounds. But I think my mum travelled around a lot with me when I was kid so I kind of stored a lot of those different cultures. I think as child you generally absorb more anyway, much quicker than you do as an adult. And a larger amount I think. When I was in India I really fell in love with the sounds, not even just the music but all types of sounds in general. I think that’s really where I took a lot, especially for the EP, percussion from India and classical tones.”
It’s now pretty much the norm for a lot of artists to break onto the circuit by producing and developing their own music. With a variety of programmes at their fingertips, hiding behind computer screens has never been easier. Although getting in the studio with a producer adds an extra layer of creativity and professionalism, there’s something really humbling and authentic for an artist to construct their own tracks piece by piece.
“When I first started to try and produce, I never thought that I would be producing my own stuff. I thought I would eventually find the right person to collaborate on things together with. To be able to share all the ideas in my head and to actually then end up putting it out there.
“I kind of just took matters into my own hands. I was working with a few people, I don’t regret any of those experiences because I did accumulate skills on Logic and loads of other stuff. There was a lot I learnt through them. I still to this day though kind of have no idea what I’m doing. There will be hours where I just sit in front of the computer, I get nowhere and I get really frustrated with myself. But I just kind of go with what I think sounds. That’s kind of how I’ve been producing so far.”
I begin to dig deeper into the stories behind Amber’s music.
Grief is a hard thing to deal with. It’s a stage in life that’s camouflaged in spiralling emotions. Sadly it’s something that we will all probably face at some point in our lives. Amber however has managed to constructively come to terms with grief after sadly losing her mother a few years ago. She’s reflected her emotions into a body of work, one that’s truly heartwarming and personal. Speaking on her debut EP 3:33am Amber explains:
‘The whole EP is about my mother and dealing with her loss so I felt like having the Indian instrumentation was really important because of the fact that she loved India so much and just wanted to live the rest of her days there. Again I loved to bring it back to New York, where the whole of Hip Hop came from. And then Berlin, with their techno, house vibe. I kind of just fell in love with music everywhere I went and then through that I think its kind of the outcome of my EP.’
She continues, “There are 7 tracks in total, each stage is a track. There are 6 stages but there are 7 tracks because there is an interlude for one of the stages.”
‘Monsoon’, released last year, is a gorgeous ballad. Her vocal lushes alongside poignant keys, and unravels her heart in a deeply moving sentiment.
“I really wanted to have something that had something to do with what I was going through, because that’s what I was writing about.” she explains, that the track replicates the monsoon season in India. Amber explains how she “went online and really looked up what that was, some of the stages listed where not how I necessarily dealt with them.”
Continuing, “I kind of rearranged the stages of grief to how I had dealt with them with my mother. Then it was kind of easy. I made a list and it was easy to put the songs that I had already written, trying to connect them to each stage. Once I had written it out, the first was Regret, The second Anger, Isolation, Sadness, Questioning, almost like a lack of faith, questioning if there is an afterlife, is there a god?
“The last one was then overcoming and coming to terms with it, almost like acceptance in a way. Through that I already had a few tracks I had already written. I already had ‘S P A C E’ which linked to the isolation stage. I then put out ‘Monsoon’, which would connect with the stage of Sadness.”
Soulful song, ‘Way Back’, acts as a glimmer of hope with joyous chorus and upbeat lyricism. For Amber, it “really dealt with the overcoming, coming terms stage.”
“From that I had to add a couple of songs. I had already written the song ‘Can You Hear Me’ which was the stage of questioning whether afterlife could exist. It was really easy to connect the final pieces because I was just writing as I was experiencing it. Using music as a therapy as many artists do. That’s the whole EP as a project.’
With an EP that’s so personal and heartfelt, 3:33am is a unique project beautifully created. It’s a story that will touch so many, an EP that will resonate with its audience every time they give it a listen.
Amber is an utter delight. She’s open and super talented. 3:33am is just an introduction into what looks to be a euphoric career.
Words by Lewis Smart