premiere: watch ama lou's new 'tbc' video, a powerful call-to-arms
As we premiere her new track, here's eight things new artist Ama Lou wants you to know about her bad self.
Ama Lou's brilliant new track, "TBC," makes its premiere on i-D today. "TBC's" accompanying video does the Exmoor Emperor-produced tune full justice. The beautifully shot short is directed by Jack Bowden, stars the 18-year-old North London singer herself, and features her sister, Mahalia John, on Director Of Photography duties. Both the video and track reference Eric Garner's horrific final words, 'I can't breathe,' while alluding to: "the Black Lives Matter movement and annihilation of Black and Brown America in the early 20th century," Ama explains. The singer — who began to play guitar at eight-years-old — saw for herself the realities POC living in the US face earlier this year, when she went to visit relatives in New York after leaving school.
Below, Ama allows us a little insight into her world of activism, artistry, skating, and travel. But before that, press play on this glitchy R&B call-to-arms and see for yourself the beauty in Ama Lou's lucid life vision.
1. Activism isn't embarrassing.
"Activists are too often demonized for their work towards rightful change; we are too often embarrassed by activism and activists, even if we agree or believe in what they are fighting for. As human beings, it is our responsibility to take that responsibility and spread it among ourselves so we can take some of the pressure off those on the forefront who are brave and strong enough to stand up for what they and we believe."
2. You don't have to be directly affected to speak out.
"[Police brutality is a bigger issue in the US, but UK artists can still address it in their music]. As artists wherever we are, it's important to know that we can address anything in and through our music or work. I grew up in London, and I have not been directly affected by all of the things I address in 'TBC,' but I thought I was able to [speak about these issues] due to my recent experience in NYC. [Through] people I had met, [I was able] to take what I had understood and write in the moment of what was happening today. I didn't set out to write a song about activism but subconsciously that's what it turned out to be and maybe that was my 'active' contribution to recent events."
3. You can become a skater at any age.
"I used to skate when I was little but stopped because none of my friends did and more importantly, there wasn't a lot of girls doing it. I couldn't be interested in it because it wasn't the norm and no kid wants to stick out. Last year I decided I wanted to start again, so I asked a good family friend who was an old-time skater if I could borrow his board and he laughed in my face. It lit a fire in me as I practiced day and night for three weeks and now I skate. So yeah, thanks BEN!"
4. Wear what makes you happy.
"Clothes are really important to me; there is something about clothes I just inherently love. Lots of the time I get really obsessed with a certain material or shape or style. I will endlessly search for that piece that I have fixated on. At the moment, it is corduroy; I will spend hours on eBay hunting down a very specific piece."
5. Be authentic.
"I didn't say [in the video] 'don't try and be someone you're not.' Sometimes that's the whole fun of artistry. But my authenticity is what I base everything off; how I'm feeling at the time triggers everything I do."
6. Don't hide your love for Hannah Montana, High School Musical, and Justin Bieber.
"I grew up on these things; I could sing every song and phrase back to you. It's about accepting who you were as a kid when you were developing into who you are now. I didn't start off my life being cool and maybe I'm still not, but I love my memories and knowledge of popular culture as they are some of the best."
7. Home is where the heart is.
"I love being at home, I always have. I'll make any excuse not to leave the house or go out. But that's okay, I think. I really love being on my own and in my own space."
8. But get out and see the world too.
"I traveled a lot as a child. My family didn't have a lot of money at all, it was just important to my parents to travel, so they made it a priority and we were never seen as an inconvenience. I think it demolished any fears I had about going into the world on my own. Four days after I finished school, I left for NYC. I spent five weeks there by myself as an 18-year-old — that's pretty scary, but it was amazing and one of the best things that ever happened to me. There's and old adage that travel broadens the mind, and as a homebody I realized that being at home and being in the world is about balance and conclusively of my experiences. Knowledge takes away fear!"
Buy "TBC" now on iTunes.
Photography Alex Partridge