MM Exclusive Interview: Ambré
20 Mar 2023
New Orleans native and Roc Nation record label signee Ambré continues to reach new heights when it comes to her musical prowess. A technically gifted multi-instrumentalist, the artist worked as a songwriter for H.E.R on her self titled debut album which went on to win a Grammy. This is the first indicator of Ambré’s innate ability for sharp and thoughtful lyricism, which is backed up by her musicality. After releasing ‘Pulp’ in 2017, she has continued to grow and diversify her sound, as evidenced by her latest project, ‘3000°’. Ambré displays an expertise in production as well as showing a strong ear for collaboration, fusing genres of R&B, Jazz, and Neo-Soul with a host of different sounds through her work with the likes of Masego, Kehlani, and Jay Electronica across her flourishing career. I spoke with Ambré on her visit to London about her roots in Louisiana, her musical inspirations, and her evolution as an artist.
Last year you released your EP, ‘3000°’; what’s the story behind the name?
The idea behind the 3000° EP’s was basically paying homage to the artists that inspire me and represent where I’m from; New Orleans. Juvenile and Lil Wayne’s debut albums were called 400 Degreez and 500 Degreez respectively and so I was kind of playing off of that throughout the process.
In terms of growing up in New Orleans, the city is a melting pot of culture. How do you think that’s informed your musical style?
I think I just have a different level of appreciation for music I guess – because I’ve been around it, You know? I grew up playing in a marching band and stuff like that, so I feel like that gave me a sense of pride when it comes to music.
Would you say that you’ve always been interested in music? Have you been into music from a very early age?
Oh, for sure!
How so? In what ways?
In every way.
Who would you say are some of your inspirations/influences?
I’m inspired by a lot of different genres, but I guess primarily I would say Frank Ocean, Brandy and Andre 3000.
What in particular about those artists resonates with you?
I guess, with Andre 3000 in particular, the subject matter; he’s a great wordsmith. I think it’s the same for Frank Ocean. Brandy, I just feel like she’s one of those singers that kind of created her own lane which is what I’m trying to do with my music also.
You mentioned lyricism there as an inspiration for you. Would you say that’s your creative strength as an artist?
I wouldn’t say that’s my greatest strength, but I do think that’s one of them.
What would you say is your greatest strength?
I think it’s a combination of everything I do!
Going back to your earlier record, ‘Pulp’, it’s clear that you’re a great instrumentalist; you play guitar. Did you change anything about the production between Pulp and 3000°?
I don’t think they’re entirely different. I don’t know how exactly to explain it, but I think with Pulp I was trying to create a world other than myself, and with 3000° I was trying to show people who I am and where I come from.
On 3000° you work with JVCK JAMES who’s a really exciting UK artist. You recently recorded an acoustic live session of ‘I’m Baby’ here in the UK; can you tell us what it is about that track in particular that makes it special to you and JVCK as collaborators?
I just love it, JVCK is one of my favourite voices. So we had to strip it down for the fans.
Is there anyone else in the UK that you would like to work with?
Yeah, there’s a lot of people! I really like Tay Iwar, Scribz Riley and Tiana Major9.
Also, on this record you collaborated with Jay Electronica, who doesn’t release much music at all. What was it like to work with him?
It was an honour, especially because he’s from New Orleans. I feel like he showed me love because, like you said, he doesn’t really do features with a lot of people and hasn’t released a lot of music lately. I felt honoured that he was down to be a part of 3000°.
You also write songs for other people. You wrote some songs on H.E.R’s self-titled album; how does that process differ for you and do you gain a different kind of enjoyment from writing on other people’s songs?
I’d say it’s pretty much the same process as it is when it comes to writing my own music. The only difference is that I have to collaborate, and through that I get to experience and learn from watching other people’s creative processes.
Would you say you prefer collaborating or working solo?
I’d say I’m indifferent. It really is the same – there’s nothing massively different about writing for myself and other people for me.
And you won a Grammy for your work on H.E.R’s album. What was that experience like for you?
It was good, I was really happy for my friend. I also felt like for the first time my name was being celebrated in the music space, so that felt really good too.
In terms of who you’ve spoken about in this interview so far; you mentioned Scribz Riley, you’ve worked with JVCK JAMES, would you describe yourself as one of their peers as an R&B artist? Or would you prefer to dodge the label of one genre?
I wouldn’t say that I’m dodging the label of R&B. Although, I don’t like to name myself with any genre because I like to experiment and I often approach making music by mixing a bunch of different types of sounds. So I’d say I definitely make R&B, but I make other stuff as well; I’m not so much an R&B artist.
In November you released a chopped and screwed version of 3000° as well; what was the thinking behind that release? It sort of came across as a deluxe version…
I guess so yeah, chopped and screwed music is a big thing in the US South and I always wanted to make a chopped and screwed version of the project. It ended up being something that kept the conversation going, so yes, that’s one of the ways we figured out how to do that.
You’re also signed to Roc Nation. How did that come about and what’s it been like working with them as a label?
It’s great! I feel like they really respect my ideas, they’ve been the best people to help me get my music out there in my career so far, so it’s been good [laughs].
I heard that you’re recording new music at the moment?
What would you say we can expect from your new music?
I would say not to expect anything and just to experience my new music as it comes. I feel like me personally, when I’m listening to music, I try to not have any expectations and to just enjoy listening to the music from a different perspective.
Would you say that your sound is continuing to evolve as you grow as an artist?
Yeah, I’m constantly growing because I’m constantly trying to improve myself. I feel like my music is a representation of me as a person so I feel like the more I grow as a person the more my music will grow; and my ideas, you know? I’m constantly listening to new things and learning things as a person, gaining new perspectives so that I can put that into my music.
What plans do you have for this year and just going forward as an artist in general?
I’m hitting the road soon, I’m going on tour again, working on new music; music videos and things like that. I’m really looking forward to putting out more music and keeping everything going.
Where are you going on tour? In the states or worldwide?
Yeah, in the states, but hopefully I get to come to Europe and the UK too.
We hope to see you touring here in the UK soon! Thanks Ambré.
Hopefully! Thank you ■
Quietly confident and assured in her own creative ability, Ambré looks set to continue her upward trajectory as she grows and experiments with her music. With such a plethora of influences from her upbringing in the Deep South to her idols in the world of Hip-Hop and R&B, it is no surprise that her music is so lyrically contemplative and sonically diverse. With more from the artist seemingly on the way as she prepares for her next project, Ambré will let her music do the talking as she proceeds on her ascent to international stardom.