When you listen to the songs “Cupid Casualty,” “United We Are,” “Neon Sunrise,” “Rewind,” “Sky High,” and “Lost for Words,” it’s easy to hear why Australian singer/songwriter Amba Shepherd has been called “the number one voice on today’s dancefloor.” And that’s not even mentioning a little song called “Apollo” that she did with Hardwell. 2016 will be a big year for Amba with some major records to be announced and quite a busy tour schedule. With so much on her plate, there are a few things that she leaves off in order to maintain her health and sanity. Just follow her on Instagram to get the recipes for her amazing fruit slushees. Will she follow in the footstep of Kelis as singer turned chef? We don’t know the answer to that, but we do know that when you hear Amba’s music at the club (and on the radio) you won’t be able to help yourself from singing along to your newest favorite song.
RS: Is Amba your given name or a stage name?
Amba Shepherd:I was born Amber Shepherd but in school my friends called me Amba with an A & it just stuck so I made it official when I started doing records. Also I found out a couple yrs ago from my meditation teacher in Brooklyn NYC, Harshada Wagner, that Amba means goddess in Sanskrit which is so beautiful, and because yoga & meditation are a very big part of my life I felt really connected to the change in spelling like it was predestined.
RS: It sounds cool.
Amba Shepherd: In Australia we pronounce it the same way, but in America you pronounce it more with a rolled r. Amba and Amber sound the same at home in Australia.
RS: As an Australian I have to ask you, what is your favorite Kylie Minogue song?
Amba Shepherd: Oh god, so many! I guess “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” because you cannot get it out of your head!
RS: I absolutely love “Cupid’s Casualty,” is that about a specific person or situation?
Amba Shepherd: Yes, all my lyrics are always stories from my life. I have to write from a place that is really relevant to me. That track is a re-release of a record that Mark Sixma and I did in 2012, so it is a story from 2011 I think.
RS: “Cupid’s Casualty” was you working with Mark Sixma and on “Neon Sunrise” you worked with both Benny Benassi and Laidback Luke. I am trying to imagine the scheduling of getting all three of you in a room together.
Amba Shepherd: Yeah that didn’t happen. What happened was I worked with Luke when he came to Australia for Stereosonic. We got together and did a session, which was really cool, and then he worked with Benny. I hope that one day we will all be together.
RS: Have you done a track just with Benny before?
Amba Shepherd: No, but I would love to, that would be so cool.
RS: You also did “Did We Forget” with NERVO, is it different working with female producers versus working with male producers?
Amba Shepherd: It’s different working with everyone, everyone has such a different creative approach. I think the girls are so amazing and what I love about working with them is that they understand the vocal point of view. I think that along with being unbelievable DJs and artists, they are really great song writers and I think that is one of their strongest assets. That is what I got out of it, it was such an easy process working with them and I loved that they understood exactly what I wanted to bring.
RS: Speaking about NERVO, there was a gig that you were going to do with them recently but you bowed out because you were sick. That brings up a question, with your hectic schedule writing, recording, and touring, how do you keep a healthy lifestyle?
Amba Shepherd: I work my ass off at being really healthy, it is part of my schedule to remain healthy because my money maker is my voice. It is something that I have to be very vigilant about. People may think “oh, You’re so precious,” but I really couldn’t care what anyone thinks. You have to look after yourself. I eat really well. I am a vegetarian and I don’t eat any dairy because that is really bad for your voice. I drink loads of water and teas, especially when fly I make sure that I am super hydrated. I sleep as much as I can because that has a big impact, especially when you are touring alot of energy being on the road & then performing every night. You have to give your best performance every time that you are up there because that is all that you have for people to remember you by. It’s really important that you look after yourself.
RS: You also love fruit a lot, which do you like better apples or raspberries?
Amba Shepherd: Oh raspberries for sure.
RS: What is your favorite drink to make with pineapple juice?
Amba Shepherd: I have this beautiful slushy drink that I make at home with apple cider vinegar, apple juice, pineapple juice, frozen berries and cherries, and cinnamon and ginger, it is amazing!
RS: If they sold it here I would buy that, I am going to get the recipe from you.
Amba Shepherd: I do all my slushy recipes on Snapchat. Everyone keeps messaging me asking if I have ever thought about becoming a chef.
RS: Hey Kelis did it, you can also! So what is your cat’s name?
Amba Shepherd: Emily. I miss her, she is my studio buddy.
RS: Does she ever travel with you in the suitcase?
Amba Shepherd: I wish that she could, around the US you can travel with animals but not internationally. I would if I could, trust me.
RS: What has been the longest delay between you writing a song and it getting released?
Amba Shepherd: The Nervo record took a little while but that’s because they were working on an album. I think that it took a year and a half and was probably the longest, but that is not a typical process. There was a track that I did in 2013 with Mikkas and writing that took us about 18 months from starting to release just because we were both very passionate about it so we took our time.
RS: Being from Australia I bet that playing at Mardi Gras was everything.
Amba Shepherd: I actually have not played at Mardi Gras.
RS: You haven’t? That is a crime!
Amba Shepherd: I know, I would absolutely love to perform at Mardi Gras, it has to happen.
RS: We are going to put it out in the world right now, Amba Shepherd for Mardi Gras 2017. I saw that you did something with “Friday I’m In Love,” I think it was on a tee-shirt?
Amba Shepherd: It was just a post.
RS: So with that in mind if you could cover any Cure song what would it be, besides that?
Amba Shepherd: Oh no, not besides that, I was going to say that is the perfect one. I love that song, it just sums up everything about the concept of the weekend and that is all we do, leave for the weekend.
RS: What is the strangest question that you have ever been asked in an interview?
Amba Shepherd: It’s not the strangest question but I remember thinking it was a pretty cool question. It was what super power I would have if I could choose and I said that I would love the power to communicate with animals.
RS: Awe. So what is coming next from you?
Amba Shepherd: I have some really cool stuff coming up, I don’t think that I can actually say just yet but I have one amazing collaboration coming up with probably one of the most iconic DJs on the planet. I can’t say who only because some of the finer details are not signed off on yet and I am superstitious. I have two other big projects that I can’t tell you about either for the same reason. How boring, sorry! I am so excited, I am in such a great, creative place and I am so excited for this year because it is going to be great when it starts to come out. You will be the first to know, I promise to tell you.
RS: What would you like to say to all of your fans out there?
Amba Shepherd: Thank you so much for all your love and support, it is never-ending, I am so lucky! I said to you last time I don’t have any haters and I still don’t have any and I don’t know why that is but I am very lucky and I am very happy about it. Thank you and I can’t wait to see you wherever you are in the world, very soon.
Interview conducted March 2016 during MWinter Music Conference.