Best New Music | 8.9.18
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&STRINGS Playlist ft.

Mac Miller, YAS, Travis Scott & More

This week's best new string features.

August 9, 2018

 

Poison - YAS

Come Back To Earth - Mac Miller

still feel. - half •alive

COFFEE BEAN - Travis Scott

Skin (Live at EastWest) - Shallou

K - Nadia Nair

Mind Games - Ruby Empress

Almost Back (Acoustic) - Kaskade, Phoebe Ryan, LöKii

Don't Want It To Be Over (ft. Coco O.) - Joey Dosik, Coco O.

No Good At All - Tobie Tripp Remix - Lucy Rose, Tobie Tripp

June 30 2018: Pds 70b (Birth of a Planet) - Sleeping At Last

Train in New York - Dustin O'Halloran

Image: Mac Miller

 
Wynton Grant's Drive To Be Excellent Is Paying Off As One of LA's Hottest Violinists

This violinist talks about his inner drive to

produce top quality music, branching out from

the classical scene, and living his dream in Los Angeles.

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Wynton Grant in a violinist you want to know. Originally from Wyoming, Wynton has studied his way through the Yale School of Music, Lynn Conservatory and, most recently, the University of Southern California. He can be heard playing on TV for Sabrina Claudio, at an MTV Unplugged session with Shawn Mendes, on tour across Europe with Grammy-winning artist Rostam, and even in Kaleidascope, LA's conductor-less orchestra. Wynton's passion for real estate investment has helped him live out his dreams as an artist in Los Angeles, where he is already being met with huge success. For the dreamers out there: Wynton is proof that when hard work meets opportunity and great personality, your dreams can become your reality.

 
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&: How did you get started in music?

wg: I’m originally from Sheridan, WY and spent the first 18 years of my life there. Through the schools, they offered this program where you could do an elective course, so you could do digital keyboard or art or violin. I had no clue what a violin was and I remember asking my mom and she gave me this answer, “it’s this little musical box thing with some strings.” And I was like alright, I’ll do it! Showed a little bit of talent and pretty quickly after started taking private lessons within the first month or so. I was really lucky, there happened to be a guy in my town who is a Juilliard grad and had a career as a musician. He taught the course and laid the foundation. I then started going out of state on the weekends to Billings, MT for my lessons for 9 or 10 years. So shout out to my parents because obviously I couldn’t drive for most of that time.

 

Yay, violin parents!

You've been involved in a lot lately. What do you look for when taking a project or gig?

I just moved to LA eleven months ago and am just stoked to be involved in anything. I’ve gotten opportunities this year that have been great. But I’m definitely still at a point in my career where I will take a gig. That being said, there’s obviously some artists and projects that I’m more excited to be involved with than others.

The things I’m most excited about are the pop artists. It’s the music that I listen to and it’s the biggest opportunities, biggest stages, and a lot of times the best pay.

There have also been some people who hit me up who want some strings on their project. If I have the time, I’m happy to do that. I’m always happy to collaborate and am trying to do cool stuff with people.

What brought you to LA?

A life-long dream! Straight up, this is the only place I’ve wanted to be. As I said, I grew up in Wyoming and for most of my time growing up, I wanted to be an actor or director. I did a lot of theater/musical theater and as I got older, started doing music. In high school, music became more of a serious thing and it came to the point where I had to make a decision.

My biggest heroes are Time for Three. They are so cool - three dudes who are Curtis grads. I saw them one summer at Indiana University's Summer String Academy. Long story short, they played cool stuff and I was like, these people are doing really cool things. So that summer was a realization where I was like ok, if music is really something that I like doing, there are other avenues of success that are within this field that are not strictly within the classical realm.

It was always with this idea that...seeing those guys get up on stage, I mean they all went to Curtis and just killed it, there’s nothing about their performance that you can criticize or find a flaw with. So it was always this desire that if I’m going to do music, I don’t want to be up there and have people say, it’s kind of dope but he’s not that good of a violinist. I want to be the real deal.

So that was the incentive to practice harder and go through so many years of conservatory and school.

 
 

Since being in LA, have you found it to be the place you’ve always wanted to be?

Oh for sure. This year has really been a dream come true. A lot of it’s been luck and maybe some of it is from things that have been in place for years.

I bought a house here in LA and I have a big interest in real estate. That is what funds my life here in LA. My first day in LA last year, 20 minutes after being in my house for the first time, I got a random phone call from a random number and it was Patrick Laird of Brooklyn Duo. Through a friend of a friend, he invited me to play on Shawn Mendes' MTV Unplugged recording.

And then I was able to play with Sabrina Claudio, through another friend of a friend connection. Then that same friend who I had met my third day in LA asked me to tour with Rostam in Europe for three weeks.

So you’re asking how things have been here in LA and it’s like, yes! The opportunities that I’ve been given, the pay is good, the quality of exposure is great and the ability to connect is, too. I mean, a lot of people I’ve had the chance to work for are my heroes. So yeah, LA has provided a lot of opportunities and access, which is key.

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Are you currently creating the string arrangements you are playing on?

Everything that I’ve done thus far has almost exclusively been arrangements that have been done by somebody else. This whole last year has been crazy and it feels like I’m almost starting over in LA, like it’s a fresh start. I’m definitely planning on having a lot more of my own stuff out here moving forward. And hopefully we’ll be able to do the arranging thing on a higher level. Youtube and Instagram are vehicles to create a lot of opportunities for people as well. I think that’s something I expected in LA but everyday am finding it reaffirmed.

 
 
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Have you found something that works for you as a string player in terms of social media?  

This is a question I’m actively asking myself right now as I try to gear up my own content production cycle and schedule. Ten years ago, when I was watching and listening to music, it was exclusively through Youtube. Now, I don’t get on Youtube that often and my main platform is Instagram. Being out here in LA, Instagram is really king. I’m not on a hard schedule yet for Instagram postings but you have to post and have content.

I guess I’ve always found there’s never been a single thing I put on the web that I’ve regretted putting up. Even things I listen to and judge harshly, throwing that out has been nothing but an ego boost. Any flaws I think about, people seem to look past and they don’t even notice. Any content I’ve wanted to put out, I want to maintain a high level of excellence and even thinking of the stuff I want to do coming up, I’m trying to go out and shoot it and make it look amazing. But it’s time consumptive. And do you see enough return on your time investment? I don’t know yet.

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When you came to LA, it seemed like magic happened. I’m sure it took a lot of hard work to get here and you’ve had to overcome dry seasons. What kept you motivated?

Yeah, a lot of it has been a drive. You have to be driven if you want to be a musician in 2018. Especially if you are trying to get into non-classical music as a classical musician. Being driven and understanding that opportunities exist and you have to go out and actively find them or create them yourself. Also, my community has been clutch too, especially the online communities. It’s been nice to see other people who are having similar level of success and realize you’re not alone. When I link with other people who are also trying to do maybe some unorthodox things but still underneath this larger genre of being a professional musician, that’s definitely inspiring.

I think being able to be consistent in presenting top quality music and being a good person. For pop music, it helps if you’re “dope.” You can be the sickest violinist on the planet but if you’re not the right vibe, nobody’s going to want you in the studio session or going on the tour. I’m not going to say this is more important that musicianship but I would argue that it’s hugely important to be a good person and the sort of person people want to work with.

We all see this. There are so many people who are doing more with less. They’re not as qualified as musicians and are putting out crappier quality content but they have the vibe and energy and they are capable of doing what people are looking for. The average listener doesn’t need Itzhak Perlman to play the soul out of the violin, they just want to hear Charlie Daniels rippin' it up on the fiddle and getting that energy and vibe.

 
 
Callie Gálvez Shares Her Secrets for Making It in the LA Music Scene

 

This multi-genre cellist talks about making

sense of her international music education, being music

business minded, and why she picks up her cello every day.

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Callie Gálvez started improvising on the keyboard at age 7, heard a solo cello for the first time at age 12, and started working as a cellist at 15; she's been hustling ever since. Currently based in Los Angeles, CA, Callie grew up across the country in New York, Boston, Phoenix, Dallas, San Francisco, and even in Berlin, Germany. Her colorful background has given her an edge as a successful cellist who performs, records, and collaborates in a multitude of genres in the LA scene. Both in musicianship and in wisdom, Callie has a lot to offer.

 
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&: How did you get started in music?

cg: I actually started from a singer-songwriter perspective. My brother had this recording program and it was just basic stuff on his computer. We had a keyboard and I started improvising. I was 7 years old. Then I got hooked on the Sonar recording studios and loved exploring them. Later, I was about 12 and went to a symphony concert and heard a cellist as a soloist for the first time. It was love at first sight! I couldn’t believe it. I was like, wow, this is what cello is. I remember where I was sitting, the feeling, the sound. It’s still a surreal experience in my mind and I have very few clear memories. I’m so grateful to that cellist for giving me my life purpose.

 

First cello gig?

For cello, that next year I was playing concerto competitions within the classical realm. But there was also a community college that had singer/songwriters that between ages 15 and 16 I started collaborating with. I, all of a sudden, found this gem of music where there was no score or notation, only chords. Previously, I had only experienced this through piano and when I found it was the same on cello, I was like, yeah, cello can do everything - it’s the best!

What about college?

I did - I’ve had a weird music road if you can say. I ended up going to Cal State Long Beach, then I went to Boston University. I was still exploring things with researching music and medicine (I had gotten into their neuroscience program there). I wanted to develop more of the therapy side because I worked at a therapy ranch when I was younger and saw the effects of music and horses on autistic children. After, I went to Germany to get an understanding of a different technique. Then back to LA to further study at Colburn with principal cellist of the LA Philharmonic, Robert Demaine. I have to give him credit for a lot of my cello chops.

 

How would you describe the differences from each location?

All the coasts have different perspectives on music, let’s put it that way! What it means to be a classical musician, what it means to be a musician in general. And seeing that perspective change from California, to Boston, to the East Coast (I lived in NY) and Germany and seeing what was important to people within their musical field really kept it alive for me, kept me passionate.

 
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Are you more of a collage of the locations or do you identify with one group?

I’d definitely say I’m a hodge-podge. There’s no way that I would have been able to walk into the rooms in the situations I do, even in LA, without having those experiences. The acceptance of all different types of music is such a privilege. It’s not like, “oh, this is weird and not normal so I don’t like it.” It’s more like, “this is so weird, it’s so cool.”

I’m so glad I can have that feeling because when you go on stage, you are never playing for your mom (haha). You’re not playing for that one person who is from your demographic who lived your exact life. It’s a great thing to have experimented with that early on and see how people react and how their stories are affected. It’s definitely led me down the road of experimenting with classical hybrids, doing a bit of jazz, hard rock...lately all of a sudden they are going crazy for cello.

 

Tell us what you’ve been up to recently.

It’s always different. But usually each week has an orchestra concert, a recording gig, teaching students, and depending on the weekend, a trip to play a live concert with someone.

Right now I’m working with a musician named Summer who is doing a lot of stripped down projects. She’s focusing on the hard rock genre and a lot of people are using our instrumental arrangements for their stripped down tours. It was very music business savvy of her. That’s how I had playing appearances on the Circa Survive and Thrice tour, as well as Anthony Green's solo tour. We had been doing arrangements of their music when no one else was. You have to find your pocket/target audience. Classical musicians don’t normally think that way so I feel privileged to live in LA where people are thinking about that more.

Then jazz gigs - I play at the Blue Whale in LA, which is so fun. Trying to keep diversifying as much as possible.

Do you find that labels are typically involved in your conversations or are you more freelance?

The field has grown so much in contracting that string players are now contractors. So you have both sides - the labels only wanting to talk to the contractor and not to you as string player, but sometimes you are the contractor. I have definitely found there is way more talking between management and string players in general because people are trying to get away from big unions and more individual/freelance artist and players. They want those partnerships happening and I think that’s going to be happening more.

We have JammCard now as well.

 

We have to add each other!

Yes! It’s so fun. You have these jam sessions where you have Beyonce’s pianist and Bruno Mars’ drummer in the same room.

 
 
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Do you have any words of wisdom for other string players?

At the end of the day, knowing why you’re doing music is a big thing. If you’re going to bed at night and you’re like, “oh, I didn’t get this gig or nothing’s changing, I shouldn’t be doing music anymore,” then you have to have something on the other side that reminds you that’s not even why you’re doing it. That alone dispels a lot of fear and negativity because you can say, I actually did play music today. I took out my instrument I played it, I made music. That’s what I wanted to do to begin with. I wanted to collaborate with people.

So go call 8,000 people on Instagram, send them a message and say, “let’s collaborate tomorrow, or the next day, and make music together.” If you come with that approach, so many doors open.

The fear of not making it usually keeps you inside, in your bedroom, and it’s why you don’t make it. What does it mean to you to make it in music? Is it playing everyday? Then play everyday.

Of course we persevere for long periods of time but I tell myself and my students/peers, it’s because we do it our whole lives that it feels longer. You can play music until you die, we have a long road.

 
Best New Music | 7.5.18
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&STRINGS Playlist ft.

Florence + The Machine, Kacey Musgraves, Let's Eat Grandma & More

This week's best new string features.

July 5, 2018

 

Hunger - Florence + The Machine

High Horse - Violents Remix - Kacey Musgraves, Jeremy Larson

Missed Call (1) - Let's Eat Grandma

Patricia - Florence + The Machine

A Message to Myself - Roo Panes

Listen on Soundcloud.

Image: Florence + The Machine

 
Kimbra | Version of Me
 

Version of Me by Kimbra comes off of her third full-length album released April 2018, titled Primal Heart. The album discusses the instinctual nature of humans and Kimbra's personal experiences over the last years. The strings on Version of Me consist of long notes that flutter at the end of each of Kimbra's vocal phrases, exuding a lasting longing for something that feels unobtainable. The dissonance and tails of reverb especially bring out the discomfort. Arranged by Owen Pallett, this string arrangement is characterized by string lines that are always kept short, never fully finishing a phrase, adding to the eeriness of the song. It is wonderful to listen to.

 
Best New Music | 6.23.18
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&STRINGS Playlist ft.

The Carters, Kamasi Washington, Florence + The Machine, Clean Bandit & More

This week's best new string features.

June 23, 2018

 

SUMMER - The Carters

Forever Always - Peter CottonTale, Rex Orange County, Chance The Rapper, Daniel Caesar, Madison Ryann Ward, Yebba

Fists of Fury - Kamasi Washington

Big God - Florence + The Machine

Rose In Harlem - Teyana Taylor

Solo (feat. Demi Lovato) - Acoustic - Clean Bandit, Demi Lovato

The Jacket (Quartet Version) - Henry Jamison

My Greatest Invention - Dawes

Where Did I Go? - Live from Metropolis Studios, London, 2018 - Poppy Ajudha

Listen on Soundcloud.

Image: The Carters

 
Jordan Rakei | Nerve - Acoustic
 

We chose the acoustic version of Nerve by Jordan Rakei because it rips our heart out with its beauty and soul. The strings, arranged and performed by Tobie Tripp, serve as the driving force for this version of Nerve. Rakei's album, Wallflower, discusses his battle with social anxiety and the conflicted emotions are brought out strongly in this song. The approach Rakei and Tripp take at the bridge of this version, different from the studio version, gripped our attention as the strings and piano solo over hopeful melodies. The ending of the song, with a bright string progression and melancholy lyrics, leaves the listener in a real experience of the beauty in sadness.

 
The Carters | Summer
 

EVERYTHING IS LOVE, need we say more? 

We know, there is actually a lot to talk about, but being a string blog, let's focus on the string arrangements. Summer, the first song on the Carter's joint album, is a love song that sets the tone for the genius Beyoncé and JAY-Z are about to take us through. It highlights a romantic string outro arranged by Derek Dixie and co-arranged and performed by Chala Yancy, Nathalie Barrett-mas, Crystal Alforque and Jessica McJunkins. The strings penetrate the song at the end of the second chorus as short trill stabs and quick movement, fattening up the horn parts. In the last 30 seconds of Summer, the band cuts out while the strings take over. Everything about this string arrangement makes us want to wrap our arms around the one we love...and thank the Carters for being the geniuses that they are.

 

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images For Parkwood Entertainment

 
Jorja Smith | The One
 

We can't get enough of Jorja Smith. At only 21 years old, the English singer has already appeared on tracks with Drake, Kali Uchis and Stormzy and just released her debut album in April 2018, Lost & Found. The album reflects themes of self-discovery and relationship and Smith narrates her questions and thoughts with such grace and maturity. The sixth track on Lost & Found, The One, is our favorite track on the album, mainly for the climactic string arrangement.

A string intro begins the track, drawing the curtain and pointing the spotlight on Smith's soulful voice. As the song progresses, a laid back yet prominent beat pulses beneath Smith's vocal line and rich string arrangement, which shines in the latter half of the song. The layered violin line is made solely of glissandos moving in opposite directions, as if two strong voices are both trying to be heard in conversation. Perhaps string arranger, Nitin Sawhney, composed the part representing the conflict Smith sings about in her lyrics, "Even if I feel this way / I don't wanna feel this way." 

String arranging credits go to Nitin Sawhney and recording credits go to Anna Phoebe on violin.

 

Photograph: Rashid Babiker

 
Best New Music | 6.17.18
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&STRINGS Playlist ft.

Christina Aguilera, Roo Panes, Martin Garrix, Nas & More

This week's best new string features.

June 17, 2018

 

Open (feat. Khalid) - Martin Garrix, Khalid

Open Your Eyes - Victory

Liberation -  Christina Aguilera

Warrior - Roo Panes

Birthplace - Novo Amor

Bonjour - Nas, Tony Williams

R.A.N. (Miguel) - Miguel

Just My Type - The Vamps

Listen on Soundcloud.

Image: Christina Aguilera

 
Friday Link Pack
 

How to maximize Instagram stories for artists in 5 steps.

This weekend, get educated about licensing your music. Cihak talks benefits of licensing, different kinds of licensing, and whether or not you should license your music.

Pitchfork’s summer book list. Questlove’s Creative Quest will be on ours.

“What sets you up for success — to get into a state of flow so you can quiet your mind and do the work. Getting to this state is the goal of any creative work session.”

The Creative Independent conducted a survey to analyze the structures of the art world related to artists’ finances.

“Only 76 classical concerts among 1,445 performed across the world from this year to 2019 include at least one piece by a woman.” Read what’s being done about it.

In related news, join the conversation about the female dress code of the NY Phil.

 
If You Want It (From "Superfly) | Sleepy Brown ft. Scar
 

If You Want It is the opening tune of the soundtrack for SuperFly, the highly anticipated film remake for the 1972 version, Super Fly. Director X appointed Atlanta rapper, Future, to curate the soundtrack as a modern take on the very popular original soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield. Future delivered with a star-studded record featuring songs by Sleepy Brown, 21 Savage, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Khalid, H.ER., Lil Wayne, and more. 

If You Want It creates the ambiance of a mystery thriller. The minor chords and big percussive stops from the band keeps us on our toes as we listen to the thrilling track. The song has a modern approach to the Motown style vibe that was made popular in the 70s and it honors the original musical choices of this era, from the "wah" effect of the guitar to the percussion and the groovy bass line. We hear this particularly in the aggressive and forward snare mix and the string mix. Typically, a song from the Motown label would approach the strings as a top liner, accompanied by slow-moving parts. If You Want It took a similar approach while adding modern, synth string effects. The strings may have a small part to the track but they help wrap up the song nicely. Take some time this weekend and go see the new movie, SuperFly!

 
Sleeping At Last | Atlas: Five
 

Sleeping At Last takes us through the Enneagram personality types in his most recent project, Atlas: Year 2. Strings appear frequently in Sleeping At Last's music and show up phenomenally in his most recent release, Five. In the Enneagram, type Fives are known to be intense, innovative, secretive, and isolated. Sleeping At Last illustrates this cerebral personality by starting the song completely instrumental, slowly building the song structure and direction. When the strings are introduced, they interrupt the minimal electronic beats and any sense of time with sweeping notes and layered slides. The fullness of the string arrangement brings reality to a pause. The approach of octaves between the violins and cellos and lightly scattered motifs leave us knowing less is truly more. Jeremy Larson is credited for composing the rich, lush string arrangement in Five. 

Listen to Five above: length 5:55. 

 
Max Richter & Daniel Hope | Vivaldi The Four Seasons Recomposed
 

Max Richter’s approach of recomposing a classical piece, though recomposing is often looked at negatively by critiques, has received praise. His approach was out of admiration for the original piece. He took the beginning motif and thought, 'Well, why don't I just treat this like a loop, like something you might hear in dance music, and just loop it and intensify it, and cut and paste — jump-cut around in that texture, but keep that groove going.”

What catches our attention is the beautiful chords of the minimoog underneath the cut up melody. It made us completely reimagine the original piece. We say thank you to Max Richter for doing us all a brilliant service.

Image by Eric Weiss / DG

 
Best New Music | 6.10.18
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&STRINGS Playlist ft.

Kadhja Bonet, Sucre, Jorja Smith, Sleeping At Last & More

This week's best new string features.

June 10, 2018

 

If you Want it (From "Superfly") - Sleepy Brown, Scar

Move with the Tide - Sucre

Atlas: Five - Sleeping At Last

Childqueen - Kadhja Bonet

The One - Jorja Smith

unfold - Ólafur Arnalds, SOHN

Sketches of Summer - Roo Panes

Inside Voices - Joey Dosik

Wings - Kadhja Bonet

Martinis and Tartar (From "Patrick Melrose") - Hauschka

Wilderlove - John Mark McMillan, Joy Williams

Joy - Kadhja Bonet

Listen on Soundcloud.

Image: Sucre

 
PJ Morton, YEBBA & Matt Jones | How Deep Is Your Love
 

PJ Morton brings us into his world of Neo Motown at the 1st downbeat in 'How Deep Is Your Love.' The Matt Jones Orchestra is the gel to the entire tune, as the string arrangements sit gracefully, supporting the melody, reharmonizing moments, and adding dense textures to the groove of the song.

If you don’t know Yebba, you must. She is everyone’s favorite upcoming vocalist; seen on tour with Chance the Rapper, writing with Sam Smith, of course with PJ, and she's now working on her own music. Yebba's voice brings us all to church, no doubt about it. The song ends with the choir and a B3 organ and by the end, all I can say is we are back in New Orleans with PJ at a Sunday morning service.

Look out for PJ Morton's Gumbo Unplugged (Live) out this Friday, March 9th! 

 
Amy Ahn's Voice of Silk Will Sweep You Off Your Feet

 

This multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter talks about growing

up around music, gaining the confidence to take her songs to the stage,

and the reason why her life is dedicated to music.

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Raised in the Bay Area and currently based in Los Angeles, CA, Amy Ahn is a classically-trained harpist, singer-songwriter, composer, and arranger. She holds a BA in Harp Performance from The University of California, Los Angeles and a MM in Harp Performance at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Between being a sought-after classical harpist across the country, Amy has found a place for her soulfully sweet voice to shine in her debut EP “Mangoes,” released June 1, 2018.

 
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&: Can you tell us about your musical background?

aa: Ever since I was in my mom’s womb, I was exposed to classical music because she was a student at the San Francisco conservatory when she was pregnant with me. My mom’s a classical pianist. And then I guess my second primary influence is church music because we were always at church and I grew up singing at church.

But how I got into playing the harp was one of her friends at church played the harp and whenever we would go over to her place, apparently I was always found next to the harp just trying to play songs when I was five.

 

And you sing as well. Did church influence that, or did you train in both?

I always just sang in church. I first publicly sang probably my junior year of college. I never identified as a singer, I never really had this confidence to sing elsewhere but then I had been this closet songwriter and so my junior year I was like, “You know what? I feel like I should share these songs. No one’s going to sing my songs but me!” That’s when I started making more friends who were writing songs and that was my first time trying to write songs with other people, too.

 
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Was there a moment when you felt like you wanted to jump into being a musician full time and go to conservatory?

I have to say I knew when it came time to apply to colleges. Also, I grew up not being very ambitious. I was very in the moment. I never, ever thought about what I’d be doing in the future just because I was so preoccupied with what I was doing then and there.

But when it came time to apply to colleges, you kind of need to know what you want to do. I realized if music wasn’t there, I’d feel really lifeless. I think that’s when I realized I can’t live without music.

 
 

(To listen on mobile: Click "Listen in browser")

 
 

Before you went to college, did you think of yourself as just a classical musician or did you identify as an artist as well?

I think it was easier for me to identify myself as an artist before calling myself a classical harpist because I never thought I was good enough as a classical harpist. I was just super hippy about it!

I listen to so many different kinds of music because the songs my dad would listen to in the car were so strange and my mom too, her loving classical music and then Korean folk songs. And then I really loved R&B and soul so it was just so eclectic.

I never practiced even an hour in high school so I didn’t feel I was worthy to say I was a classical harpist. I was just like, yeah I play the harp.

 

Do you think your background gives you an advantage in the classical world as opposed to those who may come with only one primary genre?

It’s hard to compare because I found that everyone has such different goals. I think the lie is that you can only be a solo performer or a renowned concerto soloist or an orchestral musician. Ironically, I found that a lot of my classmates really inspired me because they had eyes for outside of the system.

So yeah, I think I’m at an advantage to prioritize my identity as an artist because regardless of genre, we’re just here to make music and touch people. As musicians, we are given this gift to touch people and change how they feel. And if they’re having a sad day, somehow by performing or playing something we can change that for someone, I feel like that’s the whole purpose of it.

Like letting people express what they don’t know how to express.

 
 

So your debut EP Mangoes just came out. Can you tell us about it?

Yes! I have yet to perfect the craft of songwriting for myself but if I’m going through something and feel like there are truths that need to be heard in this world, I like putting it in the form of a song. I put together a three song ep, very very small but quality wise very very big and put a lot of heart and effort into it. 

Every song is really different. So if I were to describe it sonically, the groove is like Emily King, the soul is like Corrine Bailey Rae, my voice wilts a lot, and my classical background comes out with a string quartet that plays in one of the songs, which I’m super excited about.

 
 

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What do you feel inspires you outside of music to create?

Life! The human existence, human experience. Sometimes it’s something I’m going through, I need to channel or express what I feel by writing a song.

Other times I think people need to hear a truth that might captivate them or even teach them something. I feel this moral responsibility, not only as a musician but as a human being, as a friend, to always share.

 

It’s awesome that you so naturally are able to translate life and human experience into music. I’m sure you’ve fought for that.

Even if it comes more naturally for me than others, for me the fight is to share. I’m always like, this song is for me!

I’ll share the background of the first song of the ep. I wrote it when I first started dating my partner and it starts off how I feel, which is in over your head and everything, but then the song builds off into not just how I feel but what I believe is my responsibility in this relationship, which is to love. The song ends on 1 Corinthians 13, paraphrased by me with what is love on God’s standards and what is love other than how you feel.

Whenever the relationship was going through a rocky time, I would sing this song to myself or listen back on a scratch recording I had to remind myself that love isn’t always about a feeling or feeling a certain way. Even in times that are crappy, you choose to be loving and let yourself be loved.

So, because my songs are often autobiographical, it is hard to share because they are so personal.

 

What would you say to other musicians to encourage others to share their work?

It’s as simple and powerful as there’s only one Amy Ahn in this world. Yeah, we could all be singing the same thing but the way that I sing or play it is going to be so unique to me and people are going to miss out if they don’t hear it.

And I think being as arrogant enough to say that is a beautiful confidence that is so necessary for everyone to know.

There’s only one you, so why not.