Sandra Amarie (a Canadian-born New Yorker) has been doing a lot of gigging around on the cool club + bar scene in Berlin and she's been getting herself noticed by all the right people (including BANG BANG BERLIN, ha!). Together with her four-piece funk/soul band, she has been captivating audiences with her beautiful husky vocals - and when she isnt on stage she is co-running her party night Eat Out Berlin - which deliciously enough, is a party for sophisticated lesbians. YES, you read that correctly. Intrigued? Then read on....
Hi Sandra! It's great to be speaking with you. Bang Bang Berlin is a big fan :-) So tell us what brought you from New York to Berlin?
Thank you BangBang! Well, I love New York but it can be a lot. I did everything I could do there, it was time to move on. Actually I didn't have any plans to move to Berlin. I came to Europe to move to Paris, I had a job and a flat lined up and everything. When I got word that my living situation had fallen through, I was already in Cannes at a music convention. I got in touch with my cousin who happens to live in Berlin. She invited me to stay while I sorted my living situation in Paris and well… I came and never left. I have been here for almost a year now.
You are working on a new album – is it your debut album? What will it be called?
Things have been developing very quickly since I started performing in Berlin and the most important thing to me right now is to just to experiment with music as much as possible and work with as many people as possible.
There is a special project that I am working on right now it's called the Fuchsia Project (pronounced few-sha). From it will come my debut album.
I understand the album’s concept is about you recording your live sessions in berlin clubs and then working with that material later…can you explain it properly for our readers?
It's an experiment in music making. I have been performing in Berlin on a regular basis with my amazing band. Sometimes we invite guests to sing with us and some times it's just me and my band. In every show I ask the band to play something new, something we've never done before and then create a new song inspired by the music. There aren't always words and the form isn't always clear but none the less a song is created. Then we take the song into the studio and develop it - write lyrics, tighten up the form/structure, re-record the vocals and master it. The final product is what will be going on my debut album.
My fans get a little more of the experience however, you see I record (sound and video) for all of my shows and I will be hosting a few evenings to share the new album with my fans. Some people will have actually witnessed everything from the beginning but if they missed, I will be showing the video's of the improvised sessions then premiering the finished song live to show them the process - where we began and where we've come. Does that all make sense!
Tell us some of the Berlin venues you have played in.
Oh I've played at some amazing places this year! I've done Cookies Cream, KTV, Bar Tausend, Maritimes Hotel, Pret A Diner (Frankfurt and Munich edition) and Soho House. Tonight (December 15th) its the last show of the year at Department, Auguststrasse 5 in Mitte! Come down!
What makes a perfect live gig for you?
Of course the obvious, when the sound is good you can feel it, and so can your audience. But for me, it's when your audience gets it… you know when they feel what you're expressing. You have no idea how exhilarating the feeling is when you look at peoples faces in the crowd and they are just loving being there as much as you are...
What kind of band do you have?
I am very proud to say that I have a German band! LOL! We are a Jazz/Soul/Funk heavy on the Soul and Funk! I love my guys right now! Four white German guys and me! Jan Stolterfoht (Guitar), Lexa Schaefer (Bass), Sebi Düwelt (Keys) and Otto Block (Drums).
What influences do you have that people may be able to hear on the album?
I think the most obvious is Tina Turner, I can't help myself I don't only have moments of sounding just like her, I also move like her!! When I was a little girl all I wanted was to be Tina Turner - Private Dancer Album in 1984, I was just a little girl but would prance around like Tina doing all of her moves, even screwing my face up so that I would look just like her! Haha! But you'll hear all of them, Anita Baker, Chaka Khan, Pattie Labelle, Aretha Franklin, Ann Sexton, Ann Peebles… you know...
When and where will you be launching the album?
Sometime next year! Hahaha! still not really sure! you know how these things work! But when I have all of that worked out you will be the first to know!
Are you collaborating with anyone else on it?
Yes, but it's an organic process… I love working with other up and coming artists, however when we can we will be doing songs with more established artists. It really depends on who rolls into town and when, pretty much all of my friends are musical and so I will be working with as many of them as possible, whether they are Dj, singers, poets, Mc's, whatever, as long as a good song comes from the freestyle session, it's on!
Are you releasing independently?
For now YES, unless someone offers me a great deal tomorrow ;)
How do you feel about the music industry these days? Are you converted to digital/online releasing or are you a fan still of CDs?
I'm in both pockets really. I love, love, love a CD or Vinyl for many reasons. A CD or Vinyl is like a book these days, it's really the best way to get the full experience of what's inside… Of course everything is digital these days and I love sharing music. Digital has made this possible. I think music sharing is one of the most important thing to artists and music lovers these days. Music is art, it should be able to be shared and experienced freely.
What is your next step? Do you want to go on tour, maybe start of supporting someone else?
My next step is to take a break and start writing my next album!! I would love to go on tour and that is in the program, but nothing is for sure. I just want to keep performing right now, getting in the studio and making music. I still have a lot to learn and the only way I will grow is to just keep doing what I'm doing.
Of course I would love to open up for bands like the Roots, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Little Dragon, Chaka and Tina... But more immediately I want to support my friends, Saidah Baba Talibah and Graph Nobel, Zaki Ibrahim... They a people who have been doing it for a long time and I have been with them for a long time, but I haven't always been singing. Now that I am singing it would be so amazing to be on a show with any one of them!
You are also one of the women behind Eat Out Berlin – a new bi/lesbian party night! Tell us a bit about this night, and how do you feel the scene in Berlin is? Is it easier to be out here than say in America?
Yes! Eat Out Berlin is a new Queer party especially for Lesbians. We're really carving a new scene here. Berlin has been doing it's thing in the Lesbian scene for a while now and we want to provide new faces, new venues, and new music - but most importantly we want to give the lesbian scene what the gay scene has every night of the week, an option for an upscale, sophisticated event. Eat out is also about providing a platform for Lesbians to show who they are and what they are doing in business, art and life in general. Although we are catering to a more sophisticated older scene, we are not exclusive. Eat Out is Queer, Sexy & Delicious.
Berlin is freer about everything in general, no one cares what you do, what you wear or who you fuck… So yes, it's much easier to be out here then it is in America. Thankfully!
It's been great talking to you girl! We cant wait to see and hear the album next year!
Thanks so much for having me! And I can't wait to see you there next year :-)