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Who The Hell Is Ama?

Ama’s output has been nothing short of incredible. Since her mix for DJ Flight’s Black History Month back in 2019, she’s been on the radar and radio waves of drum & bass with mix after mix after. Now we’re all free from lockdown restrictions, her schedule has reflected the same energy, too.

But while Ama may appear to have just blown up over the past couple of years, she’s actually been involved with music for the majority of her life. Playing drum & bass since 2012, but cutting her teeth mixing the leftfield likes of Aphex Twin and DJ Shadow, she also has film scoring on her musical CV. This is one talent who’s truly in it for the long ride. 

Ama first broke onto the South coast d&b scene back in 2017, joining both House of Hifi and Enter Drumfunk as a resident. This was the year she also got her first international booking at Outlook – an event she’s played at every year since, most recently performing on the main stage in 2021. 

Levelling up with voracious authenticity, Ama is known for her infectious vibes and strong stage presence, killer smile, and ama-zing selections when she hits the decks. Her sets encompass the full spectrum of d&b, drawing on everything from soulful liquid, to heavy rollers, and oldschool flavours. 

When the world was lockdowned, Ama was riding the wave of some of the most notable live streams that kept some sanity and reprieve in our lives. To get an idea of what she’s all about, she’s featured on RAMLive House Party and the Shogun Sessions – sets which are definitely worth seeing.

We caught up for a well overdue introduction. 

Amanda, great to chat to you today – how’s your weekend been?

Hey Meg, thanks for having me! It’s been a devastating start to the week with hearing about Skibadee. I am still in shock. He was so supportive to up and coming artists and females in the scene! The influence that he had on so many people and myself! But apart from the shocking news it’s heading to be a productive start also which is nice.

For real, RIP MC Skibadee. So you’ve been perfecting your craft over the last eight years – when did the ball, or should we say bass, start rolling for you…

Yeah it’s been some time now, probably around 10 years now! I would say in 2019, this was when I started getting a bit more national recognition. That was a great year for me getting myself out there in little pockets of the scene. DJ Flight featured me on one of her daily posts for black history month promoting women of colour in drum and bass. 

Fully deserved. 

Thank you so much! I also became a resident of House of Hi-fi where I got to play with my girl Kyro on the Mr Whompy Van at Boomtown where Inja jumped on our set! It got a lot of views online. Then there was livestream season! As much as lockdown was a challenging time for all of us, it also gave us a chance to be really creative with the time we were given, and some of the livestreams that I’ve done have brought me some amazing opportunities. 

You’ve got some more amazing festivals coming up, sounds like Outlook holds a special place in your heart.

Outlook will always be a special one to me! The lineups that they put on are just wicked featuring all different types of genres. Each year I go, I discover someone new, the vibes are just unreal, the sound systems are sick! I am also looking forward to playing at El Dorado, Dreamland, Hideout in Croatia and Dour Festival In Belgium, plus a few more I cannot wait to announce! It’s looking to be a wicked year already.

And now it’s coming to the UK, with you booked for a set…

Aw, it’s just sick! I have a lot of love for Outlook festival. So excited to be playing at the first Outlook in the UK too.

Your past performances look incredible. You’ve been busy internationally too along with on the UK circuit – what’s the crowd like over in the states?

Aww cheers! I have been so blessed by sick crowds and amazing energy! And the States are no different! I played b2b with my boyfriend Blazin’ in San Diego which was wicked great vibes! But Toronto went off!! The crowd were crazy! Great energy and they loved every tune I think we played that night.

People came up to us after and said they loved it! The music we played was very different to what they listen to over there and they said it was very refreshing to not only hear different styles of dnb, but also to see a girl playing b2b with a guy and being to both feed off each other and smash it, crazy vibes! I just remember MC D2 looking at us like daym!! After some of the tunes we played. 

That must be sweet going B2B with your partner – couple goals! But your beginnings lie outside of 170. I believe you used to produce IDM…

Yeah I did. Once upon a time ago! I was very influenced by people like Aphex Twin, Apperat, Moderat, and Four Tet when I began my music journey. Growing up I had a huge classical background in school and wanted to make music where I could incorporate classical in with electronic music and IDM gave me a lot of freedom to do that.

Oh wow, are you a multi-instrumentalist then?

I guess so.. I learned to play drums, piano, violin, bass, guitar and cello but it’s been so long since I have played most of these I am sure I am a rusty mess!

I then got a job working with a production company based in Germany after uni. I worked from Hertfordshire where I grew up.They would send over the film score and I’d create the audio stems for the dialogue. It was great because working on film scores really suited the music I was making then.

That’s fascinating, it looks like you were making big moves from a young age. Any of those films that should be on our radar?

It was commission work so once I’d sent them the film scores, that would be it so I have never seen the final product or what my work has been in. I’d just get paid if it had been used. It would be good to see though I remember in the past trying to find them.

That’s still a really cool side project though. From film-scoring to DJing. So you learned your craft through mixing hip-hop instrumentals.

Haha yes I did! Back in uni, me and my bf at the time and my mate Cav were all making electronic music and it dawned on us that if we ever want to perform this music live we are going to have to learn to DJ.

Often the way, eh.

Well exactly! We borrowed some Kam decks and a mixer, and we would go to record shops in newcastle. I think one of them was called Beatdown Records at the time and we would just fish through the cheap 20p records…Then when we got our student loans in we would treat ourselves to some awesome instrumentals stuff like RJD2 – Deadringer, D.Dilla – Donuts, Dj Shadow – endtroducing –  were some of my faves to learn to mix at the time and we would sit there all day every day just learning to mix and vibe out! Some wicked times!

And some wicked tunes.That’s going to give you some great samples to draw from if you’re gonna make dnb….

Absolutely! Great samples to draw from for sure. It is a crazy journey with my production in dnb – It’s great fun but can be so challenging at times going from what I knew to producing dnb; it’s almost like learning production all over again but I love it.

So do you have any projects lined up or releases planned, or fully focused on DJing for now? 

Yes I have a few projects that I am working on along with also djing too so keep your eyes peeled for that! 

Are there any dream labels which have influenced you that would love to release on one day?

Oh absolutely! I would love to work with Shogun Audio, V Recordings, RAM Records, Critical Music, Metalheadz and Hospital. I am loving The North Quarter too! Would be great to work with everyone! There are so many types of dnb that I love and I would love to be able to create all types of sub-genres but still have my sound, of course. 

Fully excited to see what you can bring to the table, especially with your wider musical influences.

Oh thank you! Definitely I really want my music to have pieces from all my influences for sure! 

So to rewind my selecta, what’s been your biggest career highlight so far?

Oh wow I feel like I am still living through my highlights as the past 10 months have been incredible! But I have two stand out moments that I think I will remember forever.

July 19 when the clock struck 12 and Lakota opened for the first rave back after being locked down for ever a year, walking into a venue full of people raving, guys sweating with their tops off vibing to sick tunes on a sound system playing b2b with my other half Blazin’, I will never forget the crowd reaction,the vibes, the energy, it honestly gives me goosebumps thinking about it! It was a moment to remember for sure.

The next one would be Reading and Leeds Festival – I was just so blessed! I didn’t really know what to expect from that one as I was supporting some huge names. I was expecting myself to be a lil quiet.

We gather that wasn’t the case though!

I just remember starting my set and just a few people standing front left and just seeing a sea of people running towards the tent where I was playing in… as soon as they heard the drop of See You Again – S.P.Y (Kings Of The Rollers remix) I was just like wow this is crazy! Within like 15 mins the tent looked full. I just remember thinking whattt, it was like a lil 16 year old me running to a tent when I heard some kick ass tunes at Reading fest back in the day, it was just so surreal! Like wow man I am playing at the Reading Festival! Just mental!

Respect. BBC Radio 1 have also picked you up for a guest mix this year. Top notch selections, this must’ve been a massive moment.

Oh thank you so much! I really enjoyed putting that mix together! I was so happy when Charlie Tee asked me to put a guest mix together for her covering the Rene LaVice dnb show! I couldn’t believe it! So honoured! I just wanted to put a mix together with a mixture of old and new; making sure I put tunes that mean alot to me and that I have a lot of love for! It’s still surreal to think that this actually happened! 

There’s a great culture of womxn supporting womxn at the moment, it’s wonderful. I believe you’re also involved with the mighty House of HiFi too. Are they Bournemouth based too? 

Yeah, I am a resident for House of Hifi and have been with them ever since 2019. They are based in London now as they have all moved there but they still have some residents in the south like myself, Kira and Kyro who will continue to rep the South for them. We also have La Lune and ShebaQ who are London based. We had our London debut event last year at The Cause which was so sick! House of Hifi along with EQ50 are the ones who really got me out there.

The support I have got from them has been incredible. I have so much love for them believing in me! Their mission has always been to push females and underground artists into the scene. Billy, Kate and Arletta who are the founders of House of Hifi have made some amazing opportunities come through for women. They recently turned into an artist management company, Having their artists play at Boomtown, Outlook festival in Croatia and so much more. I cannot wait to see what they have up their sleeve for 2022.

You certainly have one infectious energy – you’re really uplifting to talk to haha. How do you keep up the energy levels, are you naturally a bubbly person or is a positive mindset something you actively work to maintain?

Aww thank you! Yeah totally! All of those things! I always try to keep a positive mindset even though sometimes it’s not always easy to do that and life can get you down but I never dwell on the bad things. I feel the energy I have on stage is really down to the crowd. Just seeing them vibing and having a great time raving! 

I just want to be down there raving with them! And when I am on stage I love to catch eye contact with someone and vibe out with them as I would normally do on the dance floor. I feel the same way really,  people find my energy infectious, but it’s the same way I see the crowd! I love them! It just gives me that feeling every time! 

Speaking of infectious energy, any tunes we should be hot on right now? 

Oh man Syran has really blown me away with their new single! Rip Your Face Off and Beyond The Heavens, both of them are just flames! Grey Code is also another one who has blown me away! With his fist single Actress off his new album Renewal –  and the album doesn’t disappoint! Incredible work! Dancing In The Dark by DJ Fresh and Buunshin! So energetic with that fat jungle beat! I love hearing that on a system and also Ganja – Taxman! What a vibe! Every release without fail I am just in love with lately! So many to mention! Music is just wicked at the moment!

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