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Amber Arcade Interview: ‘When I’m Writing, I Just Lock Myself Into My Own Head’

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2016 sees the rising of another great band. The Dutch musician ‘Annelotte de Graaf’ known as Amber Arcades finally dropped her full-length album. The brand new Fading Lines’ tears apart all genre boundaries in a totally unconventional way. A record that is as dreamy and esoteric as it is gripping, presenting slightly off, floating pop melodies over a mixture of kraut-inspired drums, cutting guitars and fuzzed-out organs. I had a chat with Annelotte to discover more of the her world and the making of the album.

(scroll down for the video interview)

I want to talk about your debut album ‘Fading Lines’, you decided to record the album completely by yourself without looking for a label to sign you, even tho after hearing the album, I’m sure if you did, you would’ve still got a good deal! I wanna know to background to your decision on moving forward on your own.
Basically, it has always been my project. I’ve been writing my own songs under this name since 2012 and I’ve got to a life point when I’ve tried to get a band and have a creative influence but it didn’t really work out I guess. It was partly to blame on me as I’m not very good at being open in the creative process, for example, when I’m writing songs I just lock myself in my own head and be in my own room jamming out by myself. It’s more like an isolated process for me as well as a motivational thing as  I feel like I’m making this record. I didn’t want to go back home with a record that wasn’t fully my project. If I’m gonna pay for it I figured out I take control and be in charge of all the creative choices that are made.

I believe the first album is always to hardest to write. What inspired you to start writing?
When I started writing, it was a long ago after a bad breakup. As a result, the first songs were more emotional, sad, about love and so on. Gradually I’ve came to a happy place where I am right now.

I write about different things, it’s more like a human consciences kind of thing, where it’s more improvisational, intuitive and not about a specific person or thought or memory. More of a combination of memories and thoughts together.

I believe that you’ve always been into the philosophy of law. Did that somehow influence the way you write your music in terms of themes and complexity?
Again, that’s something I did in the early period of song writing. when I first started, I was still in school and had all these classes of philosophy of law and criminal law. these heavy subjects were my favorite and I really wanted to write about them,  like themes of punishment, guilt, free will. But again, there’s a specific moment when I let go of that place gradually and my song writing process moved to a intuitive place where I don’t really know beforehand what the song is really gonna be about but rather make it up as I go along.amber-arcade-annelotte-de-graaf-live-berlin-2016 How perfectionist are you generally when it comes to recording an album? Does the ideas in your head have to exactly match what comes out in the album?
It’s kind of double I guess, I mean on one hand I am quite perfectionist and like I said I do have a lot of control over the record and how it should be, but on the other hand I put a lot trust in the people that I work with cause I chose to work with them for a reason. I love their work, I think they’re amazing musicians. We also have a top producer, creative genius kind of guy so I really put a lot of trust in them to do their thing and do it right. I think that’s also the value added when you work with a producer and a backing band, you can use everyone’s ideas.

The thing is, I’m open towards the input and people thinking with me about arrangements and stuff but at the end I wanna have the final say. So I did have some ideas of how the record is going to be like but I tried to be opened towards everyone’s ideas and input and make it into a collaborative effort. It turned out alright.

Tell me a bit about how you write your new songs, who also takes part of it?
The bases of the song I write by myself. Sometimes, I write some guitar lines too  or  some Oregon lines or key notes as well. I don’t play drums myself so I can’t really make a demo of that. I usually have some ideas about it but I’m unable to communicate them. Just to ask drummer guy to do like ‘tou tou tou’.. It doesn’t work that way so I kind of let that to the band to come up with a good drum arrangement for the record but the rest was mostly me.

Moving forward, you got signed by Heavenly after that, did you plan to look for a label after recording your album? And How did that change your interpretation of the band’s future?

Well, before I went to New York I didn’t know that I was gonna end up with a label. I didn’t have a manager or a booker. I just wanted to make a record and as soon as the record was finished I found a manger. I was already talking to him before but he wanted to hear what the album is gonna be like first. To finish it, we then started to find a team to play it together, emailing around, also to Heavenly.

The shorter version of the story is; we emailed it, they liked it and then they signed us. They’re amazing label, they’re not very know in holland but in the UK they have pretty impressive history of legendary bands to put out. Just feels pretty incredible that we are connected to that.

Have you ever dreamed of being in a full time band and only making money from it?
I would love to for couple of years. Right now I still have a day job, as a legal aid, and I like my day job. It’s just the balance I believe, the feeling of fulfillment. For couple of years it would be cool to live the musician life. I’m all about trying to experience different kinds of lives if that makes sense. It would be cool to fully focus on music for couple of years but then I’d be ready for somethings else again.

And last but not least, in which situation do you think one can enjoy your music the best? Home on a couch, while speeding on a highway or something different?
That’s an easy question, my favorite is while driving! Especially at these hours where there’s a cool light, the sun is coming down or going up, in this magical atmosphere and you put a good record, drive really fast, definitely the best time!

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