IT is pretty damn hard pinning your hopes on a young artist….
as the pressures of music and changing times can render their early promise immaterial. So many find the pressure unnerving and try too hard to fit into commercial moulds. One thing you can say about Surrey-based musician Amber Richmond is she has a very promising future. Having just played the first-ever Always the Sun festival this year – set-up and run by local venue, Boileroom – there is something special about the sixteen-year-old. Richmond is masterful when covering contemporary songs but has shown a real knack for original, engaging songwriting. Her E.P., Fifteen, was a collection of songs written when Richmond was thirteen/fourteen – the same teenage songwriting talent the likes of Kate Bush showed on The Kick Inside. If not the sonic equal of Bush;there is a comparable sense of beauty, intimacy and ability. Richmond is down-to-earth and honest but has definite ambitions and goals. One feels her music will not be kept local for too long. Following on from her Always the Sun appearance – new dates lined up and fresh recordings planned – Richmond afforded me some time to talk about her childhood idols and what music means to her; how important Boileroom is and what advice she would offer similar young artists coming through.
Hey Amber. How has your week been? What have you been getting up to?
I've been practising with my drummer as we are going to record on Tuesday.
For those who are new to your work: can you introduce yourself to us, please?
I'm Amber Richmond: a sixteen-year-old singer-songwriter
You have recently played at Always the Sun festival. How did you become involved with that and what was the day like for you?
It was really enjoyable. I had the first slot.
I was asked to do it as I'm part of the Boileroom's project. The weather was horrible but didn't stop it being fun.
Has that experience (at Always the Sun) got you thinking about future festivals? Will you be touring a lot in the next few months?
I have a project gig at the Boileroom on the 25th.
You have also played Boileroom – one of the most notable live venues in Surrey. I can imagine the crowds there are something else. Is that a venue you have a particular bond with?
It's my favourite place to play new material at. All of my songs have been tried out first at the Boileroom - I did my work experience there and know the staff well and love the atmosphere.
I have been listening to cover versions uploaded on your YouTube channel. You have a talent for reinterpretation and affinity for various styles of music. Which artist/song has been the most memorable covering and can we expect any new covers in the coming months?
My favourite cover is Toxic as it’s a really well-known song yet it sounds like a very different version. I'm working on a cover of Honey by Swim Deep at the moment - should be on SoundCloud in the next few weeks.
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Fifteen is your previous E.P. and was well-received on social media. Are you surprised by the reaction in garnered and how do you think you have changed as an artist since it was released?
I was surprised as I wrote those songs when I was thirteen/fourteen. The E.P. itself is acoustic and I have definitely changed since then as my music is more Indie-Rock now that I have a drummer (Ben Keynes).
Can we expect a new E.P. this/next year from you?
I'm currently in the studio recording three of my new songs which I hope to release.
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You are based in Surrey but have performed further afield. What have been the most memorable gigs over the last few years? Any bad ones in there or have they been predominantly positive?
I loved doing the Guildford Lights as it was really cool to play on a balcony in front of so many. You always get some bad gigs but it's experience (in the end) and will definitely help.
Take me back to your early childhood. Who were the musicians you grew up listening to you? Was your household a particularly musical one?
My mum loved U2 and Simple Minds. I grew up listening to them and still do.
My earlier music is inspired by Daughter and Lucy Rose.
I ask this of many of my female interviews: do you think women have to work harder to gain recognition? Is there still an imbalance in music that needs redressing?
Not really. I feel like I have an equal chance to make it (as if I was) in a man’s would.
If you had to narrow down to a few albums that have been influential to you: which would they be and why?
If You Leave by Daughter - as I have always aspired to make my music as beautiful as hers. The 1975 by the 1975; Long Way Down by Tom Odell - because he manages to create such amazing music on a piano. Tell Me It’s Real by Seafret - because their music means so much to me and inspired me to write new songs.
Music means a lot of different things to different people. What does it mean to you, personally?
Being honest: I never stop listening to music. It's like a life support.
I listen when I'm sad; I listen when I'm chilling and when I want to party. It expresses the artist’s emotions and that can then be shared with the listener.
Which underground/new artists would you recommend we check out and investigate?
Sophie and the Giants. Known her for a few years now and she just keeps getting better.
For those young artists looking to follow you into music: what advice and tips would you offer them?
Just keep writing. Being able to write good songs will separate you from other musicians and make you stand out.
Also... gig as much as possible.
Finally, and for being good sports, you can select any song (other than your own as I’ll include one) and I’ll play it here…
Mumma by Spring King
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BOILEROOM PHOTO CREDITS: Thomas Brooker
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