Yinan Xia: What inspired you to become a sing-songwriter? And how did you start?
Ames: I began writing songs when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I was raised in a fundamental Christian environment, but even at a young age, I did not subscribe to it. I would take Hymns about God or Jesus and re-write the lyrics to suit my own life. I guess, when I first heard Fiona Apple's album TIDAL, I decided I wanted to be a singer-songwriter. Her music was the first "Angry" music I'd heard, and I liked how it made me feel. I was also angry. Haha.
YX: Tell us about your latest project!
Ames: The last song I released is called "Soak it in". I wrote about my relationship with time. It was inspired by a dear friend of mine who has been battling cancer and lately, she's been losing that battle. I'm not sure how much longer she has, but I want to spend as much time with her as I possibly can. It doesn't seem fair to me, that I seemingly have all the time in the world, while she's just grateful to wake up each morning. I guess in that regard, our individual relationships with time are very different. I used a baby picture of myself as the cover art because youth is so envied.
YX: How did you get into the music industry? What made you take the leap from a hobby to a profession. Are you independent or with a record label?
Ames: I moved to Los Angeles in 2004 from Honduras (where my parents are evangelical missionaries). I had spent my most formative years there and really learned to use songwriting as a means of therapy and communication. I'd been googling people who were involved in Fiona Apple's career, and cold-emailing them with my bio.... asking if I could send them my demos (all on cassette back then!). Just one person responded, but that was all it took. I sent them my tape, and we began corresponding over the next few years. When we finally met in person (in LA), they signed me to a publishing deal and I began my career at 19. I've been signed a few times to different labels/deals but at the moment, I am independent and learning how to do everything myself.
YX: What genre is your music? What topics do you usually enjoy writing about?
Ames: I would say, alternative, pop-ish? Cinematic but with dark undertones. I usually tend to lean toward darker/sadder concepts. I like to write things a bit more left of center and strange. I mainly keep to mid-tempos and I really enjoy writing ballads.
YX: Name one song/album that best represents you? Why did you choose it?
Ames: I would say "Hymn for Her" because it sums up my relationship with women and religion all in one song. Being a lesbian in a Christian community was difficult at times, but it has turned beautiful. I have a fiancé, Lauren, whom I love very much. All of the challenges I may have faced in my past, are all worth it when I look at her.
YX: If you could give upcoming artists some advice, what would it be?
Ames: I would say, only do this if you absolutely LOVE it. I have been writing songs all my life, and some days are great, some days are dark. Some years I barely make any money, and some years are financially fruitful. I'm 37, and I'll probably be writing songs until the day I die. If I didn't love it, I couldn't do it. It would be too difficult. It has to be more than a hobby. It has to be like... the only thing you want to do. Ever.
To support Ames, check out the special shirt designed with a Spotify bar code to the song "Hymn for Her". Use the search tool on Spotify to scan the code and it will bring you directly to the song.