In her feelings.
By Stephanie Matsuba
Neo-soul artist Amy D. (she/her) is a multi-faceted vocalist & songwriter, bringing midnight ensembles into the mainstream light with a voice that effortlessly plays like an instrument with an endearing timbre that compliments her reflective & sophisticated songwriting.
Where do you find your inspiration as an artist?
Finding inspiration depends on the moment, what I’m looking for and what finds its way to me. I could be walking down the street, singing along to music in the car, journaling, having a conversation with a friend, and the feeling/moment/emotion is right. Inspiration usually comes to me in small fragments—a lyric here, a bass line here, a song concept—like breadcrumbs that I choose to follow or leave behind. The truer the feeling, the more potent the inspiration can be.
What is your dream collaboration and who/ what would that involve?
I feel like I just had my dream collaboration working on the “Like You” music video. It was my first opportunity to work on a produced music video, and it was made by an incredible group of female creatives. The energy in the space and the collaboration that happened over the course of 8 hours was nothing short of amazing. It was refreshing to work with women who were supporting each other fully and grounded in the vision for the project. Even if there were challenges, the troubleshooting was quick and drama-free. I’d love to work on more all-womxn collaborations and continue to foster the pure, magical energy that we found in making “Like You.” It was really extraordinary.
How would you best describe your style as an artist?
There are so many elements that define style. First and foremost, emotional realness and self-expression means everything to me. My songs are written on a foundation of true feelings and experiences; as an artist, ensuring the meaning is shared clearly with others is of utmost importance to me. Musically, much of my stylistic tendencies come from growing up as a jazz singer. Improvisation is woven into each song. To me, jazz and improvisation is about freedom. How can a melody or a solo support the emotional content of the song? How can I be more free to express myself in this moment? I try to reference the simple yet poignant power of jazz standard songs when I’m writing; again, getting back to clarity and representation of the meaning before trying to be “hip.”
What’s your favorite place to perform?
When the sound (and weather) is right, I love performing outside. There’s something about responding to the elements and sending music straight out into the landscape and sky that makes me feel good. I can tap into my senses and get out of my head—focusing less on being perfect and more on sharing a beautiful moment with my audience in nature.
What drives you, what is your why?
There is always something new to find in music and creativity in general. I might reach a moment of feeling over it, stressed, resigned, any number of things, and somehow the music draws me back in. The ability to find new opportunities, expanded community, and inspiration pulls me forward. Also, I see music as a method of healing and transformation for myself and others. The ability, the opportunity, to transform the energy of anyone listening is a gift that I find over and over again. Sharing transformation with others is the magic that keeps me wanting more.
Who do you look up to most as an artist?
My answer changes everyday, but I’d say most consistently Esperanza Spalding. Her technique, both vocally and instrumentally, is seriously cultivated. She is a beyond-excellent musician, and she’s developed her artistry with such courage. At this point in her career, it’s amazing to see how she’s stretched artistic boundaries so intensely. I see that as “success”: to create beyond filters and to make a powerful statement with your art.
If you could describe yourself as a color what color would you be?
I would say gold. As the color gold, I bring lightness and sparkle to whatever situation I am in. I accent and elevate anyone near me—bringing a little extra pop where needed.
What do you want people to take away from your music?
I want people to know that they’re not alone. If I am sharing my own story and helping others to do the same, that is the work that makes this whole rollercoaster worthwhile. By creating, I hope to foster creativity and self-expression above all. This modern world finds us stifled and bending to so many ideals of perfection. If my music had a superpower, it would remind people of their worth, power, and innate magic. It would allow the listener to overcome any obstacle with the power of their own voice.
What is your favorite place to jam?
My jam spot is the piano in the living room at my family’s home. I’ve worked on that piano since I was a child, and it has served me well as a creative space. I’m comforted by old music books, piles of paper with half-written songs and chords painting the pages, and above all, a corner where I can be the 100% real version of myself, flaws and all.
What do you love most about yourself?
I love my curiosity. I love my willingness to ask. I love that I have too many earrings and pairs of shoes. I love that I have found beginnings in many endings. I love that I’ve developed the courage to share my voice and music, even if I don’t always believe.