Amba Shepherd is guaranteed to heat up your summer.
The Australian singer-songwriter recently released "If I Could" and EDM fans can't get enough of the track. Shepherd's smooth and recognizable vocals draw you in with no letting go.
iEDM recently caught up with with Amba to discuss her new single, her label Superrlativ and much more.
iEDM: Amba! Thanks for doing the interview. We have an international audience here at iEDM. Everyone would love to hear about your background growing up in Australia. What are some childhood memories that stand out to you?
Amba Shepherd: Australia is such a beautiful country while growing up! We spent a lot of time outdoors at the beach. Barbecues, swimming, parks--you name it. It's a very sporty outdoorsy nation and the weather is mild all year round except for summers which are H-O-T. I still love the outdoors. I just love it. I sit and write by the edge of Sydney Harbour (not far from where I live) as much as possible. Nature--especially the ocean, gives me so much inspiration and makes me feel so alive.
iEDM: That is the feeling everybody should strive for. What is the music scene like out in Australia? How does it compare to other places you might have visited in your journey?
Amba Shepherd: The music scene here is amazing the talent is crazy. In the past few years, we have seen so many incredible electronic artists AND topline vocalists really crushing the electronic scene. Artists like Sia, Flume, What So Not, Gotye. Nervo, Feenixpawl, Tommy Trash, Marlo and many more! The world is becoming a really small place. The music scenes genre by genre are really similar everywhere in the world but what is totally fascinating to me is the massive difference in the nightlife culture and how the fans express their individuality and creativity.
iEDM: You have cemented your status in the EDM world. Your vocals are truly amazing. How did your path lead you to this specific genre?
Amba Shepherd: Thanks! This was not a super straight forward path. Originally, I started writing songs for other artists but I grew up as a singer and performer. Ultimately, I found it quite unrewarding. However, I was, during this time, really honing my songwriting skills especially what we call topline--which is the vocal melody and lyrics. I decided to reach out to Nick Galea, an Australian DJ, back in 2010. We ended up realizing a track that went straight to the top of the charts here. That really set me off on this path. Everything clicked. It was the perfect fit for me combining my love of songwriting, singing and electronic music. Straight after that I had a track come out in Spain called "Black & White" which went to the top of the charts there. Porter Robinson heard it as well. So did Armada Music. From there, it just snowballed and never stopped!
iEDM: How did you develop your unmistakable trademark sound?
Amba Shepherd: I think I am pretty lucky in that I just happen to have a very naturally distinctive sounding voice. People always tell me they know when its me. They even say the same thing with my speaking voice. Whereas if you’re overly trained as a singer, you can start to develop into a generic “pop” or “R&B” sound. I always use the same fx chain on my recordings which also helps bring out the best in my voice. I don’t like to mess with that too much.
iEDM: No reason to fix something if it ain't broke! You have worked with some of my favorite DJs in the game today. Guys like Hardwell and Laidback Luke are living legends in the industry. Not to mention, they are super cool and nice as well. What was it like recording with these innovators?
Amba Shepherd: I have worked with so many legends that it is amazing to really think about! Nine out of ten times, I am actually working on my contribution (topline vocal melody and lyrics) by myself and we rarely are in the same room together. However, I have eventually met everyone after the fact--usually at festivals, events or even while performing together! All the guys are incredibly hardworking. Their work ethic is insane and extremely inspiring.
iEDM: Being around greatness really does bring out the best in a person. Energy is always infectious. Who else would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Amba Shepherd: I really love collaborating but right now my focus has shifted to my originals because I felt that I really needed to communicate music for myself. For my fans. For the sake of my creativity, authenticity and originality. But I am always open to collaborating. For me, it's a very intuitive thing when the right collaborator comes along. It really is a bit like falling in love. I’m like, “Oh yes! You! I love it! Let's go!"
iEDM: Love at first song. What a beautiful feeling that must be! Your songs have been released on pretty much every major dance label on the planet. How did you make that happen? From Ultra to Island Records, it seems like you have all of your bases covered!
Amba Shepherd: It has just fallen into place one record at a time. After a couple of my records came out labels started approaching me for various projects.
iEDM: Respect. Can you explain to EDM fans why you started your own label, Superrlativ?
Amba Shepherd: I spoke with a few of the major dance labels last year about my solo projects and received some really nice offers. Truth be told, I was being pushed into doing an album and signing for an extended period of time. Even though I have loved working with nearly all of these labels, ultimately, the album concept thing didn’t sit right with me. I just felt like it was too soon and that fans would not really get an album right away. At the same time, I signed my publishing deal last year with Kobalt--a super innovative game-changing company. They suggested I set up a label with them so I decided to go for it!
iEDM: Congrats on making that happen. It takes a serious leap of faith to do your own thing. You have a lot to be proud of! What inspired your latest single, "If I Could?" The vibe is very chilled out. Totally perfect for an ideal summer night.
Amba Shepherd: "If I Could" is a super honest, "say it like it is" kind of song. The kind of things we think but never have the courage to say. It is the idea of telling someone, “This is what I would tell you if I had the guts to tell you.” So, it kind of is an interesting narrative device. All of my songs are my personal stories and this one is about me being afraid to let someone know how I really feel. Gut wrenching stuff, if I am being honest. Haha!
iEDM: I think a lot of people out there can relate to that feeling. It's not easy to put into words so thank you for doing that on behalf of iEDM! What were you feeling when you got a shout out from Entertainment Weekly for your other hit, "Wide Awake & Dreaming?" That is one of the biggest entertainment outlets out there. Not bad, if you ask me.
Amba Shepherd: Yeah how amazing! I'm always so honored and blown away. Especially now that my solo work is being so well received. Super grateful. Thank you to EW and all of the other outlets. I love you all so much!
iEDM: Before we let you go, festival season is around the corner. What are a couple of festival goals of yours? Do you have festival memories, either as a performer or observer, that you would like to share?
Amba Shepherd: My festival goal is to perform at Coachella. I am obsessed with it. I have performed at so many incredible festivals. One of my favorites was performing with Hardwell at Future Music in Sydney when everyone in my hometown sang "Apollo" along with me. Something like 50,000 people were singing! It was insane and just very special to be at home for it.