Amber Mark is nomadic in all senses of the word. She’s traveled through the world since her youth with her mother, stopping in just about every corner of every hemisphere—India, Germany, Thailand, Miami, the list could go on. But what makes her a true enigma is her ability to transcend beyond genres, making her music as vast and well-rounded as her passport.
From the grief of losing her mother, to overcoming the anxieties that come with the music industry, Mark knows how to hone in her emotion and transcribe them over soulful R&B tunes, churning out bop after bop with ease. With an upcoming album, a tour, and a stamp of approval from fellow pop star Sade, Mark may not be a household name just yet—but she will be.
Below, we talk to Mark about the underlying depths of pop music, her wanderlust upbringing, and more.
So why music? What drew you to singing and music over any other creative outlet?
I’ve always been interested in music ever since I was a kid, but I actually officially wanted to become a dancer. I saw the movie “Honey” and was all about it and always wanted to be involved with it and then I just fell into singing. I was in a lot of school programs, like choir and stuff like that and then in high school I joined an after school program and got my first chance at performing on stage and that’s what confirmed to me that that’s what I wanted to do.
Many people snub pop as having like no depth to it but you’re clearly proving otherwise. Why did you decide to stray away from the usual party-dance-repeat aesthetic of mainstream pop and focus on more hefty topics?
I think initially when I first started writing, I was going through a lot. My mom had recently passed away at that time and so I really turned to music as a form of therapy and a way to really focus and understand my feelings more. I’ve just gone with that feeling and tool in my music so that’s kind of why. I think it’s always nice to have the fun songs that really don’t have that much meaning behind them, but if I do write those songs, I have a hard time not writing cheesy stuff. I think it’s just easier for me to just use what I’m going through whether its happy or sad.
That’s awesome that you’re using music as your storytelling outlet, almost like literature—but you’re writing an album instead.
Yeah, I really like the idea of it taking on a body of its own and touching on different subjects and taking a journey through an album so I’m really excited to do that with my new one.
So growing up, you lived in quite a few different places. How did that nomadic lifestyle impact you musically and stylistically overall?
I definitely incorporate a lot of where i’ve been as inspiration, like with the first EP I lived a lot in India with my mom. She was German but India was like her home, so I tried to portray her personality through the sounds of India. I touched on finding love again and it took on a more romantic genre. I’ve always loved that genre ever since I was a kid, so I think anywhere I go I try to absorb it for my music if I can.
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I’ve read that you find a lot of inspiration in the Bohemian clothes that your mother left for you. Do you feel a sort of connection to your wardrobe because of this?
Yeah, when I see things that she used to wear or that she’s given me, definitely. Her and I had such different style. I was way more into jeans and just being cool and just being a teenager, and my mom was just really into flowy airy stuff.
She really loved oranges, reds, yellows, and I was into black and grey, and she was never that. Anything I really have of hers, I really cherish now. I have a few things of hers that I don’t really open because they still smell like her, so I try to keep the smell.
How would you describe your overall music aesthetic?
I’m not sure, it’s always changing. I always explore different sounds, and I’ve been experimenting with rapping here and there. In terms of production, it’s getting into a trap realm.
How about your style?
I think my style is always the same, it’s a little bit sporty. I always think that I can definitely do sporty vibes, but I can also rock a heel and fancy dress. I love a good dress.
I noticed that you’re a fan of Sade and you covered one of her songs in the EP. Who or what else are some of your other inspirations?
Production wise, I’m a huge fan of Q-tip. I love anything he does; I really love his voice and anything he puts out. He’s a God to me when it comes to music. Also, I think my mom was a huge inspiration for the first EP and she still is. I still have her influence in the new project coming out, just the places that she’s taken me and things like that have been such an inspiration. I think that Beyonce’s work ethic is an inspiration to me; I love how hard she works and how much effort she puts into her career, I think it’s amazing. Sade’s a big one as well. But production wise, it’s Timbaland, Pharell, Q-tip and The Dream.
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So, who really is Amber Mark?
I’m still finding out! I feel like we’re all always changing and growing and learning, but as of right now, Amber Mark is pretty into anything food related; a homebody; a bit of an introvert. She loves travelling but it makes her cherish being home a lot more. She loves Star Wars and anything Star Wars related.
How do you think you’ve transformed both as a musician and a person from the beginning of your career to now?
I didn’t know anything about the music world and the industry I was getting into. I mean, sometimes I still don’t know anything as much as I should, but I definitely know more than in my past. I’ve grown as a producer and a singer and gained control with my sining. I think I understand myself more, and the amount of patience I have and how much I have to work on it. I think there’s been a lot of growing in a music aspect and just learning as much as I can, and just getting better with coming up with a formula as to how I write music and being able to accept myself more.
I used to get really nervous going into sessions when I first started out and I still have a hard time, especially when I’m working by myself… like, direction wise and stuff. But I definitely don’t get anxiety like I used too.
What do you do in those moments when you feel anxious or stuck?
Honestly I don’t have any solutions when that happens, I just have to go on a walk and recharge. I need to work on the confrontations I have in sessions and be more sure of myself. If I don’t know what I really want, I can’t expect these producers to know. It could take me hours or it could take me minutes. So, its harder for me to process what I want and I think I just need to let them know that ahead of time. If I do, it makes me feel more comfortable about controlling the situation.