Amel Larrieux has taken the industry by storm with her success as a member of Groove Theory and two critically acclaimed solo projects Infinite Possibilities and Bravebird. Her latest release ?Morning?, on the independent Bliss Life Records label, drops on April 25. Woman on the move would be an understatement for this Grammy nominated artist. We caught up with Miss Larrieux while in mommy mode picking up her daughters from dance class.
Singersroom: You’ve been gone for a little while, how have you been spending your time between your last album and this one?
Amel: We have been working off and on now for a year promoting the last album, we just really buckled down and decided to finish this album. Now that I am at an independent label I don’t have the same pressure. I still like to put something out at least every two years so that I am not forgotten about. I have two children, so you know I am raising them.
Singersroom: You have been in the game for what now amounts to be over a decade, how have you maintained your presence?
Amel: A large amount of my success is due to my emphasis on live performance. I am really passionate about performing live, because I have a lot of room for improvisation. I am known for doing long shows, and being really hands on with my audience. I think the second reason that I have been able to enjoy a certain amount of longevity is because I have sort of clicked with my listening audience.
Singersroom: With both of your previous albums, ?Infinite Possibilities? and ?Bravebird? they seem to have a uniform sound that make each album seem like one complete track while maintaining their own distinct feel. In an industry where most albums seem “radio ready” how do you pull of your unique sound?
Amel: We always try to do songs that are good in general. Even though there are a large percentage of songs that are “radio friendly” in the world, no song would be played on the radio without a certain push behind it. Songs that people say, “oh this song shouldn’t have done well” have certain amount of promotion and money behind it. I know that now being independent and knowing the whole workings of a song. The thing that is nice about where I am, I have set up a precedent about what I am and what I sound like as an artist. I have always written my own material and I really haven’t budged on it. I don’t rely on radio as much as a certain type of mainstream artist may, and that’s really nice. There are so many other ways of reaching your audience.
Singersroom: Where did your love for music develop?
Amel: My mother, since I was an infant I used to enjoy music. When I was a toddler she used to record me making songs, banging on pots and pans, or writing my own songs before I could even pick up a pen and write words. She said I have been doing that since she could remember, so it?s definitely as long as I can remember. I don’t know, whatever it is that sparked the music love for me, it was pretty clear that it was there from the beginning. I will say though that it was always attached to the writing aspect it was never about the singing. It was always about interpreting the thing that I had created, and that was the lyric and the melody.
Singersroom: What would you say to someone anticipating your next release Morning, how would you describe this album?
Amel: I would say that it?s as honest as it can get in terms of lyrics. I always pull from my own experience, but I really love taking from other people’s experiences. Friends of mine that have told me things going on in their lives about love or work related subjects. Someone could say one thing to me and it spurs an idea for a song. It?s not on the surface at all, and I don’t know if I could write on the surface. That’s what makes me the artist that I am, why writing is the important part. I always have a story to tell or something to say and it comes from a place of passion and compassion a place of caring and concern. So I would say this album offers that, hopefully everything I do offers that.
Singersroom: Knowing the experience that you have had with a major label now working with music independently, what feedback can you offer novice artists?
Amel: I think we have all been influenced by the music industry in terms of major labels versus independent labels. Now it?s a little more recognized that working with independent labels could be just as lucrative. It?s a better way for an artist that is sure of whom they are, what they want to do, and the road they want to pave for themselves. It?s better for their development as an artist. It took me a long time to get out of my record deal with this major label. I had been trying to get out of my deal with Epic since I left Groove Theory. I would have liked to have gone this route six or seven years ago. If you know the type of artist you want to be and the kind of integrity you have for yourself, don’t go the route of a major label right away. If you do, it?s a great thing to be able to have a lot of money up front, but do smart things with it. These labels need to make a quick turn over, they are not looking to develop artist, and that’s understandable. That?s why there are big labels and there are smaller labels. If you are looking for longevity I would go the other route.
Singersroom: Anything on the horizon for you in terms of any projects other than music?
Amel: Well I love fashion; I have designed some of the things that I have worn in the past. It?s hard because I really do love music first, I want to able to do as much musically as possible. We have a Lullaby album coming out with our oldest daughter, and that should be out this summer hopefully. Then I am going to work on an album of covers, and then I am going to do a live album, so right now the horizon looks very musical. Other than that, I think the fashion thing would be next. I’m not good at doing multiple things at one time, maybe two at the most. But, it’ll be a new journey for me to try to figure out. I think I want to finish these next two albums and then focus on that.
Singersroom: You mentioned your children, how have you found the balancing act between marriage life, raising your children and furthering and strengthening your career?
Amel: I think its probably like most women who are working and raising kids. Its one of those situations where it doesn’t feel like you can have it all; it feels like you just have to try. You don’t ever feel like you’re winning at all of it at one time. For me, it always feels like I am putting a lot of energy into one, or putting a lot of energy into the other. In some ways I am always concerned that I can’t excel at both, whether it?s true or not it?s always my personal feeling. It?s just a juggling act. Also, because Laru and I knew that we wanted to have a family, we got married young, and we wanted to be relatively young when we raised our kids. It was a conscious choice, and we’re lucky that they are able to be around what we do. They are both really musical and both really theatrical, but I think they get a sense of what it?s like to be out there?while still being a normal person.
Singersroom: Women can have a fulfilling career, you can pursue your dreams and have that family. We wish you success.
Amel: You know I have to say the family thing has kept things in perspective because, I am just mom. Raising kids is unselfish; it doesn’t leave room for a lot of narcissism or vanity. You spend many a day running around looking a mess. That keeps you pretty level headed. I don’t believe my own hype; I never have and don’t think I ever will. —— By: Interview By: Wainie Youn