It takes serious guts to begin a career with something as open as New York’s Amber Mark and her ‘3.33am’ EP. It’s “the most personal thing I’ll probably ever do”, she says. Atmospheric, emotionally bare R&B, the seven-track EP acted as Amber’s coping mechanism following the passing of her mother.
“When I started writing it was just after my mum had passed”, she reveals. “It was a way of dealing with the emotional rollercoaster I was going through. I remember getting a pamphlet from the hospice where she stayed, which listed the seven stages of grief for someone going through the death of a loved one. It was then that I decided to create my own version of these seven stages, and that’s what the EP became.
“Once I’d written down that list, it was quite easy for me to put those puzzle pieces together because I’d already written songs about things like regret, isolation, sadness and losing faith”, Amber explains. “People process things differently, but those were the things I felt when I was grieving.”
"Sometimes I feel like it can be harder to write happier songs than sadder ones.”
— Amber Mark
Amber is clearly comfortable talking about matters close to home, even putting these issues into songs. She that it can be difficult to write about the more trivial aspects of her life, especially now. “That’s something I’m really struggling with”, she admits. “The EP was so meaningful and I need to learn how to write about the drama in my life. But sometimes I feel like it can be harder to write happier songs than sadder ones.” Saying that, the house-nodding ‘Lose My Cool’ and hand-clapping ‘S P A C E’ match dark subjects with a smart, danceable sheen. She already has a skill for balancing emotions.
Due to the ultra-personal nature of Amber’s music, she likes to be in total control of everything she releases. “I didn’t really enjoy working with producers”, she confesses, “but I certainly learnt a lot from them. When I first started I showed a lot of producers a lot of demos, and they would make a lot of changes. Often I felt like they made it sound like something completely different to what I was initially going for. I don’t regret working with any of them – because there was a lot that I learned. But I think I was really insecure at the time and felt like I wanted to do things on my own.”
Isolation isn’t doing any harm, at this stage. On her own two feet, Amber Mark is already making a big impact.
Taken from the November 2017 issue of DIY, out now. Read online or subscribe below.