Is It Living If You Ain’t Dreaming?: A Conversation with AMA

AMA © Ciesay
AMA © Ciesay
West London’s AMA talks to Atwood Magazine about the importance of dreams, how making her ‘VS EVERYTHING’ EP helped her fight her own battles, and the personal discoveries that making the EP fueled.
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AMA is in a dark room surrounded by trophies. Her posture is strong and confident, her gaze sharp, and despite all the gold around her, she’s the one who’s shining.

That is the first look you get at VS EVERYTHING, the latest EP by the British artist, which reveals an artist that’s more confident, open, and bold than she’s ever been. The EP is eclectic and each song seems to touch upon a different side of AMA. Experiencing all these parts in as a whole, it’s no wonder she chose trophies to accompany her on the EP cover: the project is a total winner.

VS EVERYTHING - AMA
VS EVERYTHING – AMA

The bridge between dreams and reality seems to be a hard one to build, but AMA has figured out how to make that happen. VS EVERYTHING, is a four song chronicle of the battles she’s been fighting – against herself, against others, against systems and feelings – and shows a more mature side to her R&B-fledged sound. It excites any listener to want to know more about AMA and thirst for whatever’s next.

Curled up on her bed and cradling a cup of tea, AMA talked to Atwood Magazine about the importance of dreams, how making the EP helped her fight her own battles, and the personal discoveries that making the EP fuelled.

Listen: ‘VS EVERYTHING’ – AMA



A CONVERSATION WITH AMA

VS EVERYTHING - AMA

Atwood Magazine: AMA! Congrats on the on the EP. It’s so cool.

AMA: Thank you!

I really like what you said that it represents a time in your life when you were fighting against so much and you just tried to encapsulate that on the record. My first question to you is how did writing and creating and polishing the EP help you fight all the battles that you were fighting?

AMA: I think it definitely helped me just verbalise the stuff that I wouldn’t otherwise say. I don’t really communicate my emotions that well in general life, like I’m not one to put my battles on other people, I’d rather just deal with it myself. Sometimes I do reach out to my sister or my mom or something, but generally, I like to just deal with things on my own.

The last track, “BPM”, was a song where I was kind of battling my relationship with my ex-boyfriend. I was in a place where I’m like, “I’m not sure if I want to break up with this guy, we’re not right for each other”. It doesn’t say that very explicitly, it’s just an undertone to the song, like you’re raising my BPM, you’re getting me angry, you’re getting me mad, you’re getting me heated. So I was able to verbalise those feelings and express them whilst I wasn’t too sure how to say what I was feeling or how to think clearly, so it definitely helped me in that struggle. I did end up ending thing  with him a couple of months after writing that song.

Then, say, “Dreams vs Reality”. I wrote that in a time where I was really down about dreams and reality not being parallel. I think being an artist you can get super in your head with having these giant visions, and those visions, they take time to build. Especially during the first lockdown, I got quite sad over that and all the intense feelings around that topic, so that song definitely for me was verbalising all of those emotions of self-doubt, confidence, just staying true to who you are. And ultimately, in time, dreams will become reality. I think even the track “World League” carries that sentiment as well. Me and my friends, we’re all winners, regardless of where we’re at in life, we all possess talent.

Has music always been this way that you’ve found to express what you’re feeling? You mentioned at the start that you weren’t really open with stuff and the way you’re feeling.

AMA: I think music definitely has always been a way for me to access emotions that I have not really been paying attention to. Music has definitely always been a form of expression for me. It’s always been around, whether that’s been at home, where my mom she’s always playing worship music, very strong Christians, but that’s how she would express her spirituality in her day to day. Then my dad, he is an actor/musician, so he would always immerse me and my sister in music and creativity in that sense. It’s always been an outlet that has been close by to me, that has been a deeper thing. It’s not just oh, this is sound. No, there’s like, a lot of stuff that is connected with it.

I love that. You end the EP with the sentence “Until I'm a winner”, and on the EP cover, you’re covered with trophies, so it feels like you’ve achieved whatever you were hoping for with that phrase. And I want to ask you: did you end up winning the battles that you were fighting? And when did you feel like a winner?

AMA: Every day is a battle with something else. I mean, there definitely are a lot of things that I covered in that EP I’ve won, I’ve triumphed over those difficulties where I was lost in my relationship or where I was feeling depressed. I feel like I’ve triumphed over certain things, but there’s always going to be the next battle in life, like, you’ll never always going to be completely a winner. For me, as well as like feeling like I’ve come out on top of those certain battles, I feel like it’s also a manifestation of ‘I’m going to win in the future regardless of what life throws at me’ or at anybody who listens to the EP, there’s always a way to come out on top.

AMA © Ciesay
AMA © Ciesay

What did you discover about yourself when you were writing and making the EP that you didn’t know before?

AMA: I reached deeper internally, like, emotion wise, I think I expressed myself deeper than I have with any other songs that I’ve put out in the past. Like, I remember at one point when I was writing songs and I was crying. So I discovered a deeper relationship with me and making music. And in real time, I think I was able to express myself slightly further as well, creatively, say, there are instances on the EP where I’m whispering or where I’m screaming, just screaming and shouting. But I think making this EP I definitely know that I can experiment a lot more and dive deeper with creativity.

I don’t know how you’ve been handling the pandemic, and COVID, but I know it’s been very difficult for artists, especially because release schedules have changed a lot and you can’t perform. I’m wondering if staying indoors a lot and not being able to perform, as well as the whole sense of anxiety that comes along with facing a global pandemic, if you’ve found that influenced your songwriting, the production or any part of the construction of the EP.

AMA: I think it definitely influenced and still is kind of influencing my writing, in the sense of battling as well. There’s so much going on in the world, and there’s so much that we’re facing and it can feel overwhelming. I feel like my kind of position as an artist, even though all of this is going on in the world for everybody, I feel like there’s still a way for us to be uplifted. Throughout all of this stress and drama and chaos and anxiety, there’s still hope. So I’ve just been trying to express those worries a bit more in my writing, but coming from more of an optimistic approach, because it’s hard to stay optimistic with all the chaos that’s going on right now. Especially when you feel like our leaders and our governments don’t even know how to handle what’s going on. So hard for people to see that it’s gonna be better, but it will be I just have to keep telling myself because it can’t be like this forever. Times are hard right now but just trying to verbalise that we all were going through struggles, that’s when you can unify people in that sense and make people feel less alone. It makes those struggles feel slightly smaller.

Watch: “Dreams vs Reality” – AMA

I really like “Dreams vs Reality”, it’s my favourite song on the EP, and I want to ask you, how important have dreams been for you in your life, and how have they helped you at all?

AMA: I think they’re probably the biggest part of my life because I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if I didn’t have a dream, or if I didn’t believe in a dream. But then also, the negative of that is when you have such big dreams and have big goals they can seem far, there’s a lot of struggles that come with that. As much positivity dreams can bring, they can also bring a lot of struggle. I was having this conversation with my sister the other week about how dreams are very important, but also you can be very fulfilled and living the most blissful and peaceful life but doing the most mundane thing. So  you could have the most regular, simple job, let’s say you’re a cashier or something like that, but you could have an amazing family life and really feel fulfilled. And you don’t live a life of stress. Whereas say, somebody who’s out there fulfilling their giant dreams, they could be really, really caught up in the stress. Life is strange. Dreams are very crucial, but I also feel like there’s definitely a negative aspect that comes with a dream and being a dreamer as well. But dreams are amazing. I go through life, just following my heart, and being able to have a bigger goal to work to is what fires me up.

I’m the same way. And speaking of dreams, where do dreams and reality collide? And what happens when they do?

AMA: I don’t know where dreams and reality collide. I feel like for me, dreams and reality have collided in moments where I feel like I’m in the right place, and it’s all kind of connected to the process of where I want to finally be. But I don’t know if there is actually a final destination of where dreams and reality collide. Because if you’re like me anyway, I think dreams are more like a goal, rather than kind of a pinpoint, a thing. That line, “is it living If you ain’t dreaming?” Is like does a dream have an endpoint, or does it keep on kind of evolving? I don’t know.

I have four rapid fire questions based on each of the songs on the EP. “Dreams VS Reality”: Can you talk about a dream that you've turned into a reality?

AMA: Doing music full time, would be the biggest dream. Being able to just wake up and dedicate my life to what my passion is, that’s definitely my dream.

“Facts”: Can you talk about two times in your life, one when a fact has felt like a total knockout and really crushed you, and another one where a fact has really made you happy, and felt like like a comforting hug.
Watch: “Facts” – AMA

AMA: Okay, this is a bit of a random one, but this was a time where effects totally crushed me. And I was doing secondary school final exams called GCSEs, the one for geography. And I had a giant exam paper in the test and I didn’t get halfway through it. I left the exam feeling quite sad because I was like, ‘I didn’t do any of it, I didn’t finish the exam’. Then I left and I was talking to one of my friends and she was saying, you only had to do the front section and the back section, not the stuff in the middle. I had literally done all of the stuff in the middle. And I was doing the exam and thinking like, ‘This is weird stuff they’re talking about, like, this aren’t things I had learned’. But you go into an exam, you think you’re gonna do the whole paper. She told me that and I was walking home, it was raining, I started crying. So that really crushed me.

Then a time where a fact has made me feel great. This is more of a broad thing, but I’m very close with my family, so the fact that they’re there and that the love that we have for each other is so pure. That is the fact that just keeps my life going. I think not everybody is as blessed because, with my family, we have our differences or whatever. But not everybody is blessed with a family where they feel like they can be open and well, and I’ll be eternally grateful.

“BPM”: A person or situation that has raised your BPM recently.

AMA: Oh, I haven’t felt angry enough in a while. Okay, so this I was actually more overthinking, and that’s why I got angry with the situation. But I had a hospital appointment and I went to the reception. Usually when you go to the reception, they ask you lots of questions to confirm who you are like, what’s your address or whatever, and I really just felt like they were disregarding me. So she asked me what my name was and I gave her my full name. My surname is not really long, but it’s long. I tell her my surname and she was like, “so it’s Jones”, I was like, “No, there’s a hyphen in there”. And she didn’t take note of anything or ask me any more questions. And she was like “What time are you supposed to be here?”, I gave her the time and she was like, “Oh, just go to the other room and wait”. Then I was waiting there for maybe 45 minutes after my appointment supposed to be and I felt like she didn’t actually give them my information or tell them that I was actually there. I just thought she was treating me so meanly and I was already kind of emotional that day. I was like,” Oh, this person is getting me mad”. Especially because other people were coming into the waiting room and then going before I was so, that was got me mad.

This kind of stuff gets me very mad as well.

AMA: It’s not a nice feeling. Especially because I felt like it was some sort of micro-aggression because she didn’t like my name. Not that she didn’t like my name, but because my name was too long for her she didn’t want to give me the correct treatment.

That’s awful, I’m sorry. Last question, based on “World League”: What’s the most important thing or characteristic that you look for when you're building league, your ride-or-dies?

AMA: I think openness and honesty, when you feel like you’re able to be yourself around them, they feel like they’re able to be themselves around you. I think if you’re open with people you can always find a middle ground and you can always find things to connect on and things that you even disagree about that make conversation or make you value that person for that kind of individual approach. And I don’t like people lying or hiding to me because I’m a very straightforward, simple person. So if you’re open with me, I’m open with you, and there’s nothing in between.

Watch: “World League” – AMA

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VS EVERYTHING - AMA

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📸 © Ciesay

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