This interview originally appeared on EARSTYLE July 3rd, 2009
How are you?
I’m good! How are you?
I’m good. Thanks for calling in Amerie! I want to give a big thanks for singing Happy Birthday the other day. It meant a lot.
No problem. My pleasure. (Laughs)
I want to get right into talking about this new album, “In Love & War”. Since this is the fourth album, how would you describe this album in four words?
Hip-Hop. Rock. Soul. Fusion. (Laughs)
Dope. What can we expect from this new album?
A lot of people think it’s very much an extension from my first album “All I Have” sonically. It’s definitely an evolution from that, but it’s very much a direct extension of that album as well and that’s the best way to describe it if people are familiar with my work. I definitely love Hip-Hop, I love Soul Music, but I definitely love it with a lot of energy and aggression. I love that approach to it so I always like to fuse those two together. There’s definitely a lot of hip-hop soul. The Rock part comes in, not Alternative Rock, but it’s late 60s/70s era Rock when Rock was really Bluesy and Soulful. It was Rock, but not far from Soul so it kind of really mesh well together. For instance, in “1 Thing” it’s very much a Go-Go inspired record and at the same time the sample was taken from The Meters and it’s very 70s era Rock. It’s a great fusion.
Your first single “Why R U”, which is produced by the Buchanans is a hot record. You seem to always take a lot of creative risks when choosing singles for your projects. It isn’t your typical radio hit these days. What made you decide on this being the first look into your project?
Well for me I was not sure if it was going to be the first single or not, because the label had a lot to do with choosing the single, LA did. For me, “Why R U” was the first thing I wanted people to hear. Even if it wasn’t going to be the first single I wanted us to still put it out whether it was going to be a leak or something like that. I definitely wanted people to hear “Why R U” first even if it wasn’t the first single, but then LA felt like that should be the first single so it was like accomplishing both things. I felt like I wanted people to hear this record first, because I felt like it really really is a great example of where I am right now and who I am in essence. It’s not really like you said what’s on the radio at the time. When an artist comes out with a project it’s really great to see where they are. I know for me whenever I go in to buy a record from one of my favorite artists or someone who I am interested in it’s not really seeing where they fit in with the radio, but I just really wanted to get in to that person, that artist. I just felt like it was the perfect way to come out. Especially because in the States I haven’t been out for three and a half years I think and overseas its been about two years, because I did release an album overseas in 2007.
Do you feel the single has taken off the way you expected it to or did you expect it to be charting higher than it is now?
No, right now it’s really doing its thing. I didn’t do like a premiere, but I never do that. I never do like “Amerie first new single going to be premiering on such and such radio at this time”, because for my own career its always been about the DJs first. That’s how its always been. Even for my very first record “Why Don’t We Fall In Love”. So for me I like things to build from that level. I like things to build with the DJs, sending things out to the DJs and letting them live with the record. Then letting it grow from there. That’s the way I always preferred it, because the DJs are the ones who really took a step out and played my records when no one knew who I was. I really respect the DJs. I always give them that respect and send the record to them first. That’s the way I like to do it. So now I think just recently the label started doing the other part which is just really dealing with the program directors and stuff like that. The DJs had the record for a few weeks now and the record is receiving great feedback so I feel really good about that.
We’ve been hearing about a remix and remix video for the track. What can you tell us about that?
Right now I am keeping it a little secret right now. (Laughs) It’s going to be a nice surprise when it comes out that is the only reason why. Right when we did, you know finished recording the record and listened to it for a while…you know as an aritst we have songs for like a long time. You know? Just with creating the album we have songs for a long time. We were like “Oh it would be so great to just have this idea.” There was this record that we were going to do…it just turned into “You know what I think it would be great to like kind of incorporate some of the ideas that Len and I had for this other record and incorporate that into this remix idea we had”. It was really just for fun, but I just really can’t wait for people to hear it.
When you work on your projects you seem to have a vision before you even start recording. How did you decide on the producers that you were working with?
Really it’s just meeting with a lot of people and kind of being familiar with their work. A lot of it has to do with the vibe, the energy that takes place during the meeting. I am not really a producer chaser. I don’t like to just chase after this producer, because they did this record with someone else and its on the chart or whatever. I just don’t really operate like that. I really like to be where I want to go and what I am trying to express and then fill the team around that element. I met with Teddy Riley, he vibed really well and Teddy really got me. Sometimes you have to give a lot of direction and say this is what we are trying to do and this is the vibe and then you kind of have to go back and forth for a while until the person knows where you are. It’s not something that you can really do it’s something that they have to understand and it’s a trial and error type of thing. He kind of got it right away so it was really really amazing and easy. Warryn Campbell was the same way. He was incredible as well.
You and the Buchanans have great chemistry! You also worked with them on another track called “More Than Love” what is that one all about?
Thank you. Well that record is featuring Fabolous. Fabolous is one of my favorite rappers. I always love working with him, because to me Fab sounds great on just about anything and whenever you have a record and you have a feature you just want it to go to the next level. He always takes it to even a better place. That’s how I think personally. I was really excited about doing that record together. The record is about you know being in a relationship and there’s love there, but no trust. Everyone knows you need more than love to have a great relationship so that is kind of where the title comes from.
Another track that caught the eye was “Swagback”. There’s a lot of songs about “swag” on teh radio right now. What made you do that one?
(Laughs) It’s so funny. I don’t know how people know about that record. (Laughs)
It was mentioned in your Def Jam bio.
Oh that’s right! We did talk about that record. Ok, it’s funny, because we did that record a while ago and now everything is swag this and swag that. I was like “Oh boy, can we change the title of this?”, but then I was like you know what that’s the only thing to when you do things you do things so far in advance so it’s like you already did it. (Laughs) Whether that’s like photo shoots or all that stuff. For instance my photo shoot…I am really in to fashion. I had my photo shoot like last month, like four weeks ago and I know that by the time the album comes out I am going to be like “Ok I would have chosen to wear this and this”. Things happen and that’s the nature of how the business flows. With “Swagback” there are alot of “swag” songs, but I really love the song so much I didnt’t really want to change it. It’s pretty much about being in a relationship and you were so stuck in a runt and so unable to move on after the demise of a relationship. You have just been moping around and you finally come to that time where you know what? I am ready to move on now. Everyone comes to that point. You can’t force it on anyone, you can’t talk someone out of that runt. They have to just make it up in their own mind and they have to feel in their own heart that they are ready to move on from that past. That’s what that song is about. It’s about picking yourself back up again.
Earstyle recently spoke to Los Da Mystro and he spoke very highly of you. Will we hear his tracks?
He’s so awesome! I’m not sure. It’s not all put together yet. Right now we are still finalizing the tracklisting. I’m not totally sure. There’s a couple of them, I wanted more songs on the album, but they are being really really strict with the cut off. Initially I wanted to make the album short and sweet, but then there were so many great songs that I wanted to do more and then I asked. I was like come on lets do it. They are like they really want to keep it short. Now we are in the process of cutting records or just deciding which record is going to be a bonus track and where so I am not sure yet.
If a person is “In Love” what song from your entire catalogue would you recommend?
If a person is in love? You mean real love or fantasy love?
That real love.
Well you know what I think? “Different People” would be good. I would recommend the whole album, because thats what the album is about. It’s a realistic look at love. Yeah, I would say the whole album, because there are so many factors to a relationship, but if you want to talk about being real and being realistic it would cover all.
Well thanks so much for talking with us.
Thank you. I appreciate the support.
No problem. When should we expect the album in stores?
The album is coming out this Fall. I want to say September, but I am not sure if it is September or early October. So I just have to say Fall right now. (Laughs).
We are definitely looking forward to that. Once again I just want to say thank you.
No thank you so much! You show me so much support. I just want to say thank you. Personally, you show me so much support and I really do appreciate it. Happy birthday again! Take care!
Thank you. Take care.