We had the opportunity to interview Americana singer-songwriter Amilia K. Spicer. The California-based musician has a unique gritty vocal style that helps her stand out among an increasing crowd of Americana musicians. Spicer we learned has a music video for her track "Harlan" which will be dropping soon. Check out our interview with Spicer below!
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
I followed a strange trail of breadcrumbs that’s for sure. It started innocently enough- piano lessons when I was knee high to a grasshopper. I liked them at first, and it gave me a weekly opportunity to steal candy from little dishes in my teacher’s house, so from about 6 years old or so, this worked out just fine. Up until the teen years, when I was bored and wanted to quit everything (funny). Luckily I found a new teacher who knew Gershwin, and for the last year of lessons, this was groundbreaking for me. Even though I never took lessons after high school, playing those blue notes changed everything.
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
Many a cocktail napkin have given their lives for my art over the years. There have been different phases. When I started out, I wrote poetry, which I then put to music on the piano. So- the majority of early songs began with lyrics. Exceptions always exist: “Like an Engine”, the title track to my first album, was born from a little Irish jig melody I played one day. When I taught myself guitar a few years ago, things shifted, and song ideas started with grooves and chords. Lyrics became inspired by rhythmic vibes. Each of those paths has pluses and minuses, but the most important thing is to allow new trails to emerge and then follow them.
My current plan is to get back to piano, so the pendulum can swing back to where I began, which is exciting to me.
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
Through piano, Beethoven was my first inspiration. As a kid, the story of a deaf composer was so exotic, and the music mysterious. Still is. Endless revelations followed: The wails of Zeppelin, the harmonies of the Beatles, the growl of Springsteen, the snear of Zevon- all made possible by “classic rock” radio and my older brothers. Way too many to list, of course. That music mixed with Irish folk music and musicals my parents played around the house, and stirred up an eclectic brew in my brain. Brandi Carlile, Gillian Welch, Neko Case are all voices out there now I relate to and love. They aren’t trying to sound like anyone but themselves. But, it’s a pretty joyful experience to be inspired my songwriter friends. There are so many brilliant artists out there, playing in local clubs, fighting the good fight to bring beautiful music in to the world.
I just played at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, and ran in to many of these very pals- Sam Baker, John Fullbright just to name two. I sing with an artist named Tim O’Gara, a rather mystical poet in Topanga, whose work always inspires me.
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
The lovely folks at Taylor Guitars made me an acoustic (Grand Concert) guitar, right down to the “Spice” nameplate, and it’s been a lovely road companion ever since. I don’t usually get to tour with any of my electrics, but my favorite is a 1967 Danelectro Convertible. I have Gurf Morlix to thank for that gem, though I’m pretty sure he regrets not buying it himself. I also love my Danelectro Baritone. Hopefully someday I can tour with a big ol’ bus, full band, with all my instruments, so I can play songs the way I hear them in my head. Of course, touring solo in theaters has its magic. Sitting down at a grand piano-pin-drop acoustics- is very soul satisfying.
5. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
That I mean it.
6. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?
Ever the mystery (laughing), I have a few I can’t talk about yet. But I am looking forward to recording new songs soon. On the film making side, my production partner and I have several projects up our sleeve. As of this interview, I’m about to release the music video for “Harlan”, my third from the new record, Wow and Flutter, which I also directed. Making these videos has been fun and challenging. They take a lot of time, because of the indie film making aspect to them, no budget, gun and run. That all adds up to challenges in editing, and finding out at various times that you need more footage (laughs). I feel like music videos are an extension of my songs, so there’s a lot of love (and cuss words) poured in to the making of them. We recently (finally) upgraded our gear a little, which will be fun to utilize on the next video. But- you can, and should, make art with whatever tools you possess.
FMI on Amilia K. Spicer visit her website.