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AM - The IndieLondon interview


Interview by Rob Carnevale

MULTI-talented singer-songwriter AM talks exclusively to IndieLondon about his latest album (and UK debut) Future Sons & Daughters and some of the inspirations behind the songs.

He also talks about how growing up in New Orleans shaped his musical outlook, why Beck and Dylan were major influences in helping him to decide to become a singer and what he loves about being in the UK. You can catch AM performing live at London’s Monto Water Rats on Tuesday, October 26, 2010.

Q. We absolutely love the album here at IndieLondon. You must be incredibly proud of Future Sons & Daughters?
AM: I was very happy the way it came out. I set out to make the album sound more quirky and fun… to have it reflect more of what was influencing me at the time (Brazilian Tropicalia, 60’s Italian soundtracks, Turkish Psychedelia… all of that stuff has a moody, yet playful edge musically). Lyrically, the album is more heavy and philosophical so I wanted the music to be lighter… more uplifting and fun.

Q. How does it also feel to be getting such positive international attention now that you’ve been able to release in the UK?
AM: I’m pretty excited. I love travelling abroad. I think it’s essential to get out of your own culture and see things for yourself… not just how the media portrays it.

Q. How did it feel to get every track from Troubled Times picked up for use in TV shows and movies? How much of a boost does that kind of attention give to your career?
AM: It all happened so fast and organically I was kind of caught off guard. Before I knew it I didn’t have to work a job anymore and I could focus on music full time. That’s always been my dream and I was able to do it without any help from a record company telling me what to do. I did my thing and people responded. That’s always the kind of artist I aspired to be.

Q. What inspired Future Sons & Daughters thematically?
AM: The theme of the album deals with a re-evaluation of values. Questioning your view points and how they will effect the next generation… hence, the title of the album. Personally, I’ve reached a point in my life where I see how important my actions are. We all influence people by what we say, but more importantly by what we do. A lot of the album deals with moral dilemma… which side will you fall on? Or more importantly “where do you draw the line?”

Q. Can you talk a little about the track Self Preservation? What inspired that song in particular? It’s one of our favourites…
AM: That song deals with the “survival of the fittest” mentality and how prevelant that still is… especially in America. But it also illustrates how as humans, we have to overcome those kinds of hardships… in order to survive. Whether you believe we’re animals or not we sure do act like them. We just use our brains instead of claws or teeth.

Q. And likewise Endings Are Beginnings, which is simply great?
AM: Thank you. It’s one of my favorite songs I’ve written. I think the title pretty much sums it up. You gotta move on.

Q. And album opener A Complete Unkown?
AM: Another moral dilemma. That song is basically about adultery.

Q. How much did growing up in New Orleans help to shape your musical influences?
AM: New Orleans introduced me to the groovy side of music… taught me how to swing. Showed me jazz, funk. The sexy stuff. Culturally it helped shape my laidback attitude. Try not to sweat the small stuff. Let life happen.

Q. What do you love about that city? You keep returning and are due to be at the Voodoo Festival this Halloween with Muse… how much are you looking forward to that?
AM: I can’t really say enough about New Orleans. It’s my home, where my family is. It’s a huge part of who I am. Voodoo Fest takes place over Halloween weekend, which is hands down the best time to be in New Orleans.


Q. Similarly, what do you love about the UK? How does the live experience here differ from the US?
AM: I feel UK audiences are more open, less jaded. The culture is older here. It runs deeper and I feel people have a better gauge for the arts sometimes. I mean America invented rock n’ roll, but the UK perfected it. It’s an honour to be here playing for everyone.

Q. You recently supported Charlotte Gainsbourg – how was that? Did you get to hang out with her much?
AM: It was great to see her do her thing every night. She is a sweetheart. So nice. And I love her new record.

Q. When did you decide you wanted to become a singer and how easy was that dream to pursue?
AM: It wasn’t until later that I decided I could actually sing… or wanted to. I started out mostly as a guitarist but after hearing Beck’s Mutations, Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, Dylan… songwriters that really aren’t great singers, but had a vibe. I was less intimidated.

Q. What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve been given and the biggest lesson you’ve learned in getting to this point?
AM: Never be afraid to try something new. If it doesn’t work you don’t have to repeat it.

Q. What’s been the most pleasing response/review you’ve had so far to this current album?
AM: Oh, I don’t know. I think Q magazine was pretty kind.

Q. Do you enjoy finding new music yourself… from cutting edge bands to obscure Italian soundtracks or psychedelic Turkish folk? What’s your proudest discovery?
AM: My latest fascination is an album by a Brazilian artist Arthur Verocai. His early 70’s solo album is a masterpiece. He’s like the Brian Wilson of Brazil.

Q. You credit your band with helping to make the album as good as it is… how did you assemble them?
AM: Some of my band has been with me for a while… we have a musical repoire. I trusted their instincts and helped shape the parts while encoraging them to put their thing on it… I mean that’s what producing is. Guiding the performance to help the song sound the best it can be.

Q. What are some of your favourite live memories?
AM: Well, most recently last night! Glasgow was great to us. My top 3 are: playing the Greek Theatre Los Angeles with Caetano Veloso, playing Disney Hall with AIR, playing Voodoo Fest in New Orleans with the Flaming Lips and Duran Duran.

Q. Finally, what are the 10 tracks that are never far from your iPod player at the moment?
AM: Arthur Verocai – Caboclo
Bruce Langhorne – Opening
David Axelrod – The Human Abstract
Asha Bholse – Jab Chaye
Sexteto Moderno Electronico – In the year 2525
Mandred Hubler & Siegfried Schwab – Necronomania
Marcos Valle – Mais Do Que Valsa
Aavikko – Capitano Argento
Ariel Pink – Reminiscences
The Farm – Crystal Shingles

AM plays London’s Monto Water Rats on Tuesday, October 26, 2010 (tickets available through Live Nation). His album, Future Sons & Daughters is out now. Read our review