Spotlight

Pop from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Australian award-winning singer/songwriter Meri Amber has had some incredible experiences, like performing alongside mafia men puppets, a yeti, and a prawn man. Her ambition is to have a tea named after her, and to be the first chick to perform in space (seriously.)

Her debut album Wandering is an eclectic mix of quirky pop and folk rock, crammed full of sizzling lyrics and face-melting melodies.

We caught up with Meri Amber fresh from her People's Choice Award win at the Australian Independent Music Awards.


Kicktone: Hey, it's Meri Amber!

Meri Amber: Hi!

Kicktone: We caught you at the Australian Independent Music Awards this year; congratulations on winning the People's Choice award! Was this your first appearance at the AIMAs?

Meri Amber: Thanks, it was an awesome experience. I entered the awards in high school and was one of the top five finalists in the Schoolies category in 2009, so it was actually the second time I've entered. The first time was with an electro-techno song called Sex Song, and now with this folky-sweet Share My Time song, so it was very different. They gave me a nice shiny thing to keep and you can see it in the background of some of my YouTube videos.

Kicktone: How long had you been making music when you first entered the AIMAs?

Meri Amber: I technically started in kindergarten where I played some advanced pieces like Mary Had A Little Lamb, but I dropped out after a year because all the kids were teasing me, like the older kids. Got back into it later in primary school, and I moved on to a talent school in high school, Newtown High School of the Performing Arts. I did a talent development project after that, did a solo in School Spectacular, and then after that I've been on my own doing my own thing.

Kicktone: Your own thing is awesome - beautiful and quirky, and sometimes even funny.

Meri Amber: Well I actually started with comedy, which is very different stuff to what I do now. Like when I was in high school is when I wrote Sex Song. I still have a lot of quirky stuff, like songs about aliens. I actually have a love song for an alien but it's probably not the most relatable topic.

Kicktone: Oh man, when are we going to hear the love song for aliens?

Meri Amber: I think that might stay on my computer at home. I think I might disturb people with an alien love song.

Kicktone: Yeah but you could also rock the shit out of people with an alien love song.

Meri Amber: That's true, maybe I'll get back into it, you never know. Hidden track on the next album, maybe?

Kicktone: There's a sense of progression in Wandering, does that relate to the transition from writing comic songs to more folky songs?

Meri Amber: There's a couple of different answers to that question. The whole CD was basically me trying to find my feet, bceause I'd stopped putting out my music for quite some time when I started at law school, but when I got back into it it was kind of a scary thing. So it wasn't really an LP, it call it a mini-P, like the first five songs were a mini-P and the rest of the tracks are re-released singles that I did as I was starting back up again.

The mini-P section of it is basically about me trying to find my feet again and find out what kind of artist I really am. So I wouldn't say that the mini-P represents me as an artist so much as it represents that journey of trying to find your place. Wander Alone best encapsulates that whole idea of wandering around trying to find your place, so that's the first track. And the last track, Campfire Song, is the closest to what I want to be as an artist.

Kicktone: Who would you say influenced your music tastes?

Meri Amber: There's so many, but I'd say people like.. this is going to sound funny, but when I was a kid I loved B*Witched, and Backstreet Boys - you know, all the classics. And then a bunch of old-school stuff like the Bee Gees and ABBA, and Madonna's constant reinvention although perhaps not her gyrating on stage, I don't do that. You never know, though, I might turn out like Miley Cyrus. Lily Allen, I love her quirky lyrics in pop songs and I want to incorporate that sort of thing into what I do.

Kicktone: I see you're playing a gig in Sydney in a few days. Do you do regular live performances?

Meri Amber: I do, but... this is going to make me sound even stranger, but I perform a lot on the internet. I do a lot of online performances and Hangouts and things on Google+, and I really love it. I performed live in the foyer at gigs for Pink, Lady Gaga, Russel Brand, and Flight of the Conchords which was really cool.

Kicktone: That's not strange, Hangout gigs are awesome. The music industry's changed a lot now that artists can reach fans directly through the internet. Aside from the Hangout gigs, has the internet made things easier for you as an artist?

Meri Amber: My experience on the internet has been really, really fun. When I first started putting my stuff out it was a rediscovery of the process and more about making music than marketing and such, but because the internet's an interactive space I started, well, I wouldn't call it "collecting fans", more just making friends with people.

There's a lot of cool, artistic people online that you can speak about music with. I think what I've done rather than collecting fans is collecting a bit of a community of people who I'm really fortunate to have met online. It is very different in the music industry nowadays but people are very supportive online, especially if you give back.

You can catch Meri Amber live in Sydney at The Workers on April 10 @ 7:00pm.