Artist and globetrotter Amaru is a music performer, a songwriter and an actor who lives in the Netherlands, originates from the Republic of Suriname and grew up in different countries. With original music fuelled by eclectic influences from his varied places of residency, 1inmusic wanted to meet and find out more about the man behind the blur.
1inmusic: Hi Amaru and thank you for joining us. We’d like to know more about you, your music, your projects… But let us start with this: we heard you were a great fan of Dolly & Kenny. How do you get from the likes of Dolly Parton to your kind of music?
Amaru: I get that a lot, lol! The thing is, as a child I was exposed to a lot of different genres of music and in fact my mother was a big country music fan. She still to this day enjoys the music of Jim Reeves and Hank Williams and Sue Thompson.
I come from an ethnically diverse country and music of all genres is played on the radio. I am a child of the eighties, so needless to say I listen to a ton of eighties music almost daily. In addition to that, I can also put on some Maria Callas or Jessye Norman, turn off all the lights, light some candles, retire to the couch and close my eyes and pretend I’m in ancient Greece or something… But my taste in music is very eclectic, I have to say. From pop to R&B, from dance to salsa… if it speaks to me, I’ll support it.
As a child I saw Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton perform at an awards show and I was mesmerized with all the lights and the blinged-out outfits, the audience and all of that. And that was my trigger. And just an FYI: Kenny and Dolly made some great music!
1inmusic: So is that what/who introduced you to music and made you want to be part of it all?
Amaru: It was my late and very musical grandmother that introduced me to music at a very young age, but it wasn’t until I’d seen that live performance of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton on TV that I knew that I wanted to sing too.
I must have been about eight or nine years old when I realized that “I wanna make music when I grow up”. Oddly enough it was my work as an actor that took off before the music, but now the tables are somewhat turned.
1inmusic: How would you describe your music?
Amaru: My work reflects the eighties a lot, mainly as somewhat of a tribute to my childhood and what I consider a very good era for music. Additionally, my lyrics can be deeply personal, but I also write about things that are not so deep… such as going to the club and “put your hands up” (which is the title of my debut single, by the way!).
I was told by an A&R rep of a very well know label that “the way you write your lyrics is not what we’re used to in the industry”… I knew that I was getting the brush off, but hey, I have always marched to my own beat and that reflects in my music and my videos. The way I write my lyrics is rather different and my lyrics actually tell a story, they’re not just a few random words that were set to a beat.
1inmusic: Do you think these influences are what make you unique?
Amaru: What’s unique about me as an artist is that I don’t look or sound like anybody in particular. I’m a MAN of a 6’2” stature with a mind and an opinion of his own and enough knowledge of the business to not have people pull the wall over my eyes.
1inmusic: That must transpire in your song writing ?
Amaru: When it comes to my song writing, many things can function as a trigger for me. I can hear a melody in my head, which I then start to sing and record on my cellphone, but sometimes words and short phrases just come to me, which I write down and use for said melodies, for instance. Sometimes I simply sit myself down and write about a specific subject matter and worry about the melody later.
1inmusic: How do you manage being a music performer, a songwriter AND an actor?
Amaru: Believe it or not, it’s quite easy to manage. You have to plan certain things ahead of time and although I am busy, my schedule is not that busy, really. With acting you always have to wait and see if you get the part. Had I been a regular character on a tv show or something like that, I think I would’ve somewhat be in trouble, lol! But for now, it’s quite easy to manage live gigs, auditions and living my daily life.
1inmusic: Who supports your artistic ventures?
Amaru: The support of my family means much to me, if you can imagine. My mother is my biggest supporter and of course I have acquired a significant fan base over the years, so their support is also very much appreciated.
1inmusic: Who, to you, is the most undervalued music artist?
Amaru: The most undervalued music artist… wow, that’s a good one… I think Easther Bennett of the group Eternal is one of the most underrated and under-appreciated singers of my time. She has a set of vocal chords to put a lot of today’s so-called female “singers” to shame. I wish she would return to music someday. Another underrated singer or undervalued as you put it, to me, is Jordan Hill. When I first “listened to her debut album, I heard influences of a nineties’ Mariah Carey mixed with subtle hints of the late Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. Another great talent that isn’t shining as bright as I think she should. The last person I wanna highlight in this series is Latin singer Huey Dunbar. Very popular in the Latin community, he has an incredible voice, has stupendous vocal range and is pitch perfect. He reminds you of Marc Anthony in a way and to me he should have been a bigger star.
1inmusic: How do you prepare for your performances?
Amaru: Leading up to a performance, I always make sure that I know what my set list looks like and that I still remember all my lyrics, lol! In addition to that, I drink lots of ginger or lemon tea with honey and I rehearse a lot just to ensure a smooth performance.
1inmusic: What do you do when you don’t do music (creative or otherwise) and that you are passionate about?
Amaru: In my spare time, just some serious “me-time”, you know, to center oneself yet again, so to speak: I go for a walk or I travel abroad or I cook.
1inmusic: Success to you is…
Amaru: … something that is not tangible. To live to see another day, to spend some time with your loved ones, to be able to do what you love to do and make a difference along the way… I consider those things “success”. I don’t think of success in terms of fame or wealth.
1inmusic: What do you wish you have been told when you started out and that you think would help anyone who starts out?
Amaru: One of the things I know now that I didn’t know back then is that it’s not an easy ride, at least it hasn’t been for me. There’s a lot of nepotism going on in this business and since there’s no one to pull strings on my behalf, I had to and I still have to work towards a successful music and acting career on my own, which I don’t mind. Something that I do want to share with aspiring singers and actors is that they should study and learn as much as they can about the BUSINESS part of show business. Learn about contracts, learn about fees, learn about copyrights, branding, publishing… that sort of thing. I’m not claiming to be an expert on those matters, but I know enough and I’m still learning.
1inmusic: It seems you are up for a couple of awards. Could you tell us more including if and how fans can help you with this?
Amaru: Yes, can you believe that? The song was entered for their consideration and I was elated when I was notified that I was nominated! My single “I’m The One You Need” is nominated at the SCM Awards in Memphis, Tennessee (USA) in the categories “Song Of The Year” and “Video Of The Year”. Fans can visit www.scmawards.com for all the details. Voting ends on March 4th. 2016 though.
1inmusic: Any upcoming projects?
Amaru: Right now I am busy promoting my latest single “The One”, which was released in November 2015. The video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07UiXSTpYKU) can be seen on my website or on my Youtube or Vimeo channel and the single is available on all platforms of digital music. In addition to that, I am also working on two new songs which I will hopefully be able to release this year.
1inmusic: Amaru, thank you for this. Let us know where we can find more about your music?
Amaru: My music is available on all digital platforms and a limited edition CD-single of my award winning and number one US hit single “I’m The One You Need” can be purchased in the web store on my website www.amaru.nl.