Ambré Is Puttin’ On For New Orleans

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Injecting the aura of early 2000s R’n’B into an internet-centric musical landscape, Ambré’s musical innovations stand-out against a backdrop of music releases that spread like wildfire digitally and can be understood by youth universally. The New Orleans native has carved her own lane in the current landscape by placing a pointed focus on sounds that are tied to their place of origin.

On Ambré’s 2019 debut “PULP” those origins came from within herself, as a product of her own introspections. Then, on last year's 3000°, she paid homage to her vibrant hometown. Going even further to follow up the release of her second offering with a ‘chopped and screwed’ remix album which she endearingly titled 3000° “Chop Not Slop”. This stylistic subversion of the contemporary musical status quo is why the R’n’B innovator has caught the ears of executives at one of the most influential label’s in recent history, Roc Nation. So, following the release of her impactful sophomore project, Deeds caught up with the rising star during her recent trip to London for a conversation about her musical background; talking about how she continues to push the boundaries of her creativity and her plans for a promising future in music.

Watch Ambrè 3000° short film

Photographed by Zekaria Al-Bostiani

Our conversation begins in a penthouse-suite-reminiscent top floor boardroom at the Universal Music building. Ambré is sat across from me cool as ever, with the landscape of Kings Cross visible behind her through the floor to ceiling windows as we trade hair-care secrets.“I’m bout’ to dye mine back to a darker brown” Ambré shares in an ever so slightly perceptible southern accent as she runs her fingers through her ember-coloured locks. “I really like that colour though” I reply, to which Ambré rebuts playfully “I’m kinda bored of it now”. I’m not surprised by this. Given the singer's growing reputation as a creative chameleon in the musical space, it’s fitting that when it comes to how she presents herself on a day-to-day, she’s prone to switching it up on a regular basis. When it comes to her musical identity she’s only slightly less assured, and in response to my opening question of “who is Ambré?”, she tells me, “I’m still figuring it out”. 

Our chat quickly segues into her trip to London, and whether she’s taken the journey across the pond in order to explore her burgeoning sound from new horizons. “I think being in London has just given me a burst of new energy and I feel inspired to create” she tells me. In terms of the music, she’s been in and out of the studio a few times throughout the month she’s spent here, however for the most part she’s been immersing herself in the new environment with her friend and 3000° collaborator Destin Conrad. With regards to the music she has recorded she tells me, “I don't yet know what it’s gon’ sound like completed, but I feel inspired to just keep creating and meeting new people, and to like, switch it up”. 

Photographed by Zekaria Al-Bostiani

Ambré is an experimentalist. She tells me that this is due in part to the richly musical city she hails from, and also in part to her time spent collaborating with greats such as Jay Electronica, as well as her peers, like the Jamaica-via-Miami multi-hyphenate BEAM, and Oakland native R’n’B superstar Kehlani. However, her origin story before she became a grammy-nominated songwriter in her own right is a surprisingly humble one. “I just started putting music out on Soundcloud and people started listening”, she tells me, “It kind of just happened, I don’t really know how…then I ended up going on tour”. There was some time spent in limbo before that first tour Ambré shares candidly, telling me that right before things started picking up for her on the music side back in 2017 she made a massive gamble and moved from the southeast to the west coast on a whim. “I felt like i’d reached a ceiling in my hometown” she tells me, “I had a show in The Bay, I packed a really big suitcase, got there and was like, i’m not going home”. 

From there Ambré moved to LA, “I didn’t have any money or anything” she shares, “but I felt inspired and motivated, and honestly, I feel as though if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have made the music I made at that time that lead to where I am now”. She goes on to reflect on how changing her environment ultimately pushed her into unfamiliar spaces saying, “I also wouldn’t have met the people that helped me get to the next level in my career, so that’s testament to changing your environment and leaving your comfort zone”. Continuing on the conversation about creative environments, I want to know whether Ambré thinks that with all the rooms and studio sessions she’s been in thus far, that she’s found the key to writing music that stands the test of time. Her answer is very pragmatic, as she tells me “I guess it’s about being vulnerable, being honest, being experimental, having fun and trying new things”. 

As our conversation continues, it becomes apparent that another comfort zone for the singer is the stage, and unlike a lot of her peers, she tells me she feels really at home whilst touring. With her second headlining tour in the US on the horizon when she returns from this creative sabbatical she shares, “basically, this is like part two of the first [tour] that we did. It’s still in the US but since that one went so well we wanted to go to some of the other cities that we didn’t get to go to”. She follows this by reciting a tour routing of culture rich cities from memory, “we’re doing Philly, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, i’m doing LA again and Minneapolis”. It’s clear that part of the reason she feels so comfortable touring is because she picks her stages in cities where music is weaved into the fabric of their history, much like her hometown. “I really want to do some shows in Europe and the UK too” she says with an excitement behind her eyes, “So hopefully we can come back here and do that soon”. 

Ambré’s knack for performance isn’t a new thing however, as she explains that she began performing at a very young age, first when her grandmother brought home a karaoke machine in her early years, and then throughout her teen years when she sang in choirs’ and later joined her high-school marching band. “I played the trombone” she says with an endearing nonchalance. When I ask whether those early music experiences performing as part of  a collective was where she forged her early musical identity she responds simply, with her characteristic cheeky grin “nah!”.

Photography by Zekaria Al-Bostiani

She feigns to elaborate. Although Ambré’s musical discography is widely experimental and not singular in any way, from my perspective, her creative messages are often focused around her strong sense of self. When I put this to her she explains further “I mean my upbringing is who I am and it informs the decisions I make musically and personally too. When I write I always try to think about what my younger self would enjoy”, before continuing that she feels the way in which her musical background most poignantly informs her artistic identity is that she comes from the birthplace of jazz. “I love jazz” she tells me, “specifically because it’s improvised. So when I make music you know, I'm just trying things, and that improvisation comes from my upbringing on jazz…everything else comes after that”.

This leads me to wonder about the artists that were influencing her when she was growing up, or even when she began making her own music, and further whether there are any artists that influence how she makes her music in the present. “I grew up on a lot of Brandy, Frank Ocean, Outkast; really, I listen to everything” she tells me of her eclectic palette of inspirations. She goes on to tell me that when she was learning the guitar she was inspired by the greats, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and particularly by John Mayer. Sensing an air of admiration for John Mayer in particular I inquire further, to which she rationalises her love of the guitarist saying, “I feel like a lot of the things he plays are complicated because he doesn’t just shred, he adds so much soul to what he’s doing that it’s hard to replicate”.

On her present inspirations she shares, “right now i’m inspired by the artists I create with, people like Scribz Riley, Tay Iwar, Destin Conrad, TianaMajor9 the list goes on'', she says, before excitedly sharing that she’d be really eager to collaborate with the UK’s fastest rising girl group Flo. As our conversation takes a turn towards Ambré’s bright musical future I can’t help but ask how she would describe the idiosyncratic sound that she’s fashioning for herself, to which she replies, “I always like to say psychedelic, although I do tend to use broader words to describe my sound because I don’t like to box myself into one genre”. 3000° emulates this description, with tracks that nod as much to early jazz as they do contemporary hip-hop, R’n’B, EDM; all tied together perfectly by an ambient and psychedelic sensibility throughout their production.

In closing, I ask how she’s planning to keep pushing the envelope of her sound, and she giggles back, “I do want to learn how to play the drums next”. Her characteristic cheeky grin returns, giving me the impression that she’s holding back from telling me the full scope of the answer to that question. I don’t pry however, after all, a true artist never reveals all their secrets. Being the insanely talented instrumentalist she is, with an impressive proficiency for songwriting and production respectively, I'd bet that Ambré’s burgeoning musical legacy will play out in full technicolour for many years to come. 

Listen to 3000° here: 3000° - Album by Ambré | Spotify


Words & Interview: Tahirah Thomas

Photography: Zekaria Al-Bostani

Styling: Kiera Liberati

Make-up Artist: Summar Rain

Hair: Ruth Makangila

Special thanks to Holborn Studios