Way before adopting Amelia Hope as her stage name, Amanda Friggieri had already been making inroads on the local music scene thanks to her versatile voice and burgeoning confidence as a performer. Not one to restrict herself to any particular genre, she's always showed an interest in experimenting with different styles, and it is certainly this open-minded approach that has led to her working with several musicians and producers and landing opportunities, among them singing on local and international trance releases, that have served as a stepping stone in her career. She speaks here about the next step in following her dream.
Having already released some solo recordings, when did you think of 'becoming' Amelia Hope?
Initially it was going to be just Amelia, which I quite liked the sound of, but of course, I found out I wasn't the only one who did. I learnt that the name itself means 'hardworking', which reflects who I am very well. I later added 'Hope', mainly because both names represent two of the most important elements to achieve success. I believe hard work and perseverance are fundamental in the pursuit of all success, and I'm well-prepared for the hard road ahead in order to follow my dream.
Who do you rate as your foremost influences and inspirations as a singer, and their impact on the kind of music you want to make?
This is a tricky question because my music does not fall under one genre. It is vast, versatile and it's a fusion of soul primarily, with funk, jazz and blues and a catchy melody to create that ear-friendly pop feel without sounding too commercial. If we go back in time, I'd say Depeche Mode were a big influence until I discovered the "Queens" and "Kings" of music; Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Shirley Bassey, Nina Simone, Etta James and the like, and then Amy Winehouse came along and I was blown away. I also like Emeli Sande, Rebecca Ferguson and Adele, and am quite partial to the funky grooves of Jamiroquai. As you can see, it's a rather mixed batch of influences behind the fusion of my music. Most of my songs feature orchestrations and a brass section, both of which are of utmost importance. Someone recently described me as 'Shirley Winehouse', which I suppose says a lot about me right there.
Having worked with several musicians and different genres, how do you feel this has contributed to the artist you have become today?
I think one of the toughest things to do as an artist is to find your own style. In an ideal scenario, you choose what you want to become but the reality is that you have to experiment and find the style that suits your vocal tone to bring the best out of it. Working with other artists and musicians helped me find my direction. I started off in rock but my first vocal coach felt differently after hearing me sing a pop-soul number. Later I joined some bands and started to try and write songs. My experiences with trance music were positive, but by then I'd realized my voice was more rounded and powerful than soft and angelic. I've sung in a jazz-folk band too, through which I discovered how important it was to immerse myself in jazz music if I wanted to grasp the concept. It's one long lesson, one step at a time until you learn how to walk again.
You recently launched a music video, your first ever, for new single Story of my life….
Story Of My Life is essentially biographical. I wrote the melody and lyrics, the emphasis of which is about how music has always been there for me. As I sing in the chorus, "story of my life and I would rather put my records on - just one good song and it's all gone". The man behind the music arrangement, production and mixing of the song is one of my local idols, Niki Gravino (of ForeFace Studios), and if you listen closely, you'll notice some of the musical influences I mentioned earlier lurking in the mix. Being the Story Of My Life, the song had to be accompanied by a music video, which was produced by Tower Studios with help from Evolution Media. The script tells the story of a child growing up into a responsible adult, shedding light on troubled kids and victims of bullying and promoting the fact that if help is sought, life can still be beautiful.
Further to your released songs so far, what other releases are planned?
The plan is to release a 6-track EP called PerplexCity, which means 'city of moods' and explains the fusion of sounds on the featured songs. To date, I've released 3 tracks from the EP, namely the title track, Falling For My Soul and Story of my Life, all of which I wrote. The first two tracks were orchestrated, produced, mixed and mastered by Sam Hayman, whilst Niki Gravino arranged produced and mixed the third. Given the number of collaborations I've been approached to do and the songs I'm currently working on, the EP may well become a fully-fledged album. I have a release date in mind but we'll see how things develop first.
And you're also moving to London to study music later this month…
Yes, I took the opportunity to celebrate the launch of my music video in style and have a farewell party at the same time, to cherish the lovely memories before my departure to London. I had been considering London for a while now but the thought of moving to a new country all alone was a bit daunting. Eventually, I auditioned for the Tech School to study Popular Music Performance and improve on my techniques. Having been chosen, I'm looking forward to meeting and working with new people, as well as getting some gigs as part of the course credits too. Needless to say, I am super excited about this new adventure!
Listen to Amelia Hope's music here.
Photo by Tamara Webb
An edited version of this article was first published on The SUnday Times of Malta (7 September 2014)