The ClubPlanet Interview: Amba Shepherd

The ClubPlanet Interview: Amba Shepherd

by DJ Ron Slomowicz
01.07.2015

Porter Robinson. Afrojack.  Hardwell. Dyro. Shermanology. Ferry Corsten. Tom Swoon.  Starkillers.  These are all big name producers/DJs that you no doubt know. But what about the incredible singers who write and perform the lyrics on their big hits?  Australian singer/songwriter Amba Shepherd has been titled “the number one voice on today’s dancefloors” by DMC World, and from her incredible repertoire it’s easy to see why.   As incredibly talented as she is, what is even more striking is how friendly, warm, and honest she is as well.  I bumped into her at the Keljet show and when asked for an interview, she simply said “Let’s go.”

RS: How is your ADE this year?
Amba Shepherd: It has been amazing; I have had the best week ever. I haven’t really done that much work to be honest with you; I have just caught up with everybody and have had a lot of meetings. I am really just here to regroup and kind of keep in touch with everybody and to go to all of the events. I did some sessions, though.

RS: Can I ask who you did sessions with?
Amba Shepherd: Yes, I did a session today with Mike Mago and with GlowInTheDark the other day, and also Jef Martens, who is Lazy Jay and Basto.  



RS: I have to ask you, when you did Hardwell’s “Apollo,” did you have any idea that it would get as big as it did?
Amba Shepherd: I don’t know if you can ever have any idea of a track becoming that big. To be honest with you, I got the track and got goosebumps, and when I wrote the topline I knew it was really special. Whenever I hand in a track I always tell them that I am really flexible and happy to make changes, because collaborating is a two-way street, but to be honest, when I told him that I didn’t mean it. I told them that I was flexible, but I knew that if they didn’t like it I was really going to have a problem with it because I felt it was just as it should be. I knew it was something special but I didn’t know how special.

RS: I love the acoustic version, it is so emotional, how did it come about?
Amba Shepherd:  I wanted to do an acoustic version because of the overwhelming response to the lyrics; and I felt like we needed to have a version where the lyrics and my vocals could take the forefront. It took me a little while to put it together, but basically I was working in LA in the studio with Afrojack, and I met Evan Duffy who is an amazing film composer and pianist. I made the piano arrangement and then he played it and did such an amazing job. We filmed the video all over the world in New York, Miami, Amsterdam, and Sydney, and Robin Piree put it together with his team.

RS: You did a track with Shermanology and they are vocalists as well as producers; was it more of a challenge or difficult working with actual vocalists and not just a producer?
Amba Shepherd: No, we get along so well and we have so much fun together in the studio, they are such great singers and we are really good friends. We basically wrote that topline in half an hour and then I recorded the vocals when I got back to Sydney, and then they mixed it together. It was sort of like they just relayed parts of our vocals. It ended up going that I sang the chorus and Dorothy sang the verses. It was a cool experience, and it is the only time that I have ever done anything with other vocalists. It wasn’t a challenge at all, it was completely awesome.

RS: You are from Australia, what bands or producers from Australia should we be watching for?
Amba Shepherd: At the moment, Australia really seems to be obsessed with Melbourne bounce, so Will Sparks, Joel Fletcher, Timmy Trumpet, and Uberjak'd are really cool upcoming names that seem to really be killing it at the moment with that sound. There is a really good culture for EDM there as well; Ivan Gough is a really amazing producer. Do you remember “In My Mind” from about 3 years ago?

RS: Yes, with Feenixpawl.
Amba Shepherd: Feenixpawl is another amazing production duo as well.

RS: Why was your track with Tiesto credited to TST and not Tiesto?
Amba Shepherd: You’ll have to ask him that.

RS: You just mentioned that you were in the studio with Afrojack.
Amba Shepherd: Yes, that was over a year ago though.

RS: Was that a song on his album?
Amba Shepherd: We actually had a few songs going backward and forwards for his album, and at the last minute they didn’t make the cut. Very sad, but that’s alright, it happens a lot actually. You have to write a lot of records to have a lot of records out. We ended up having a track out on Nick Cannon’s album.

RS: Let me ask you this, from a professional standpoint, if you do a track with say Afrojack and it doesn’t happen, do you get those vocals back or how does that work?
Amba Shepherd: You have to make sure that you have an understanding and need to make that clear at the start of a session if that is something that you want to do as an option. There can be problems down the road if you want to take the vocals back; there are certain producers and songwriters that may not be okay with that, even if they don’t want to use them. It is copyright law that once you create a work together, you can’t separate it. It is very common, though, that people will take their vocals back, but it is something that you have to make sure that everyone is okay with first.

RS: Imagine that you are in the room and standing next to you is yourself at age 18, what advice would you give to your 18 year-old self?
Amba Shepherd: I would say keep doing your thing; you are awesome and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks about you and just work really hard. These are things that I have already done, and I believe in the power of positive thinking and I am constantly telling myself that all is well and that it is okay to make mistakes and to build your creativity.

RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Amba Shepherd: I have such amazing fans and I get nothing but love. I don’t know how, but I don’t have any haters; maybe it will change after this interview, but I just feel really lucky because I know that a lot of the guys really cop it, but I get nothing but love and support and I am so grateful and love everybody. Thank you!

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