Fact of the day: It is physically impossible to listen to ‘Whoa’, from Aylo’s new mixtape, and not be the least bit curious about the identity of the captivating female vocalist.
Amaarae’s verse on the song is exactly what gives it a certain ethereal appeal that listeners can’t get enough of. More Branches caught up with the ‘Shawty with a Bald Head’, to find out more about the intriguing 23 year old Ghanaian singer/songwriter.
Ama Serwah Genfi became known as Amaarae amongst friends first in 2009; after a Facebook username she coined in the 9th grade using the last name of her favorite singer, Corrine Bailey Rae. When she tried and failed to shake the nickname, Ama decided it was a lost battle. The same year, Ama started dropping freestyles on Facebook under the name Amaarae and it just stuck.
“I can live with Amaarae” she admits in mock of her earlier embarrassment, “it could have been worse, I could have called myself some shit like killa wolf bitch.”
Amaarae makes stirring, sultry and simultaneously vulnerable music for the soul of the modern sexual youth. She listens to a lot of different genres too; the influence of which clearly contribute to her unique style of music. For example, she kicks it back to the music of jazz legends like Charlie Christian and Billie Holiday, whom she calls her idol but Ama also has a soft spot for 90s R&B and hip hop. She tells us “I love rap music, that’s where it all began for me”, naming Missy Elliot, Jay-Z and Eminem as her top 3 rappers. Then there’s alternative rock with the likes of Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd. Ama adds, “And I love me some Avril Lavigne when I’m feeling angsty or Sheryl Crow, I love Janet Jackson too, Gwen Stefani & Shaggy”
For the young artiste, her ideal collab would be with Anthony Kedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. She also thinks Mr Eazi’s voice would complete the vibe of a song she’s currently working on, titled ‘Catching a wave’.
Having spent a lot of her childhood moving from Accra to Atlanta and then New Jersey, she says she moved back to Accra aged 11 to find that “everyone was now making laptop tracks.” Ama recounts, “So I got this software called mix craft and made my first mixtape in one week. Hopefully it will never see the light of day”. But one crappy attempt wasn’t going to stop Ama Genfi. She soon realized that music was far more than a passing fancy for her and she was determined to take it further. Commenting on her artistic growth, she says proudly,
“It’s been good, it’s taken a lot of work for me to even scratch the surface but I’m happy with where I’m at creatively”
Perhaps if music hadn’t chosen her, Ama might have been a DJ or an author of short stories. All of the studio equipment she currently owns was paid for by 4 years of DJ-ing through college.
“I’m actually a poet and I write short stories and I’m also funny as fuck once u get to know me -I have impeccable comedic timing but only my brother knows this”
As if all that wasn’t enough, Amaarae also makes mean pasta! And she’s quick to say what every true pasta lover knows; that “Pasta is life.”
But despite the abundance of talent, Ama reveals that everyday, making music, is a challenge. “To be honest, I always doubt myself” she says. “I never feel like my music is good enough. For instance, the songs that people love, like my verse on Woah, or The Obsolete Truth… I can’t listen to those songs because to me I don’t feel like they are good enough.” Like every artist, Amaarae admits one of her biggest problems is battling insecurities and believing in herself. “I always think; this could be better”.
At least, the growing music scene in Ghana and Africa at large is cause for cheer and Ama says she certainly sees a future for herself in the midst of it.
“It’s poppin like a mf! It’s dope to see so many people coming up and pushing the boundaries of African music and what people consider viable African music, our entire generation of artists is just like nah fuck y’all we’re gonna do what we want and it’s working! And it’s rad, it’s just bad ass”
Ama is definitely committed to the music but, she tells us, not so much towards choosing a hair color. Attributing her edgy hair style to commitment issues; “Having it low means I get to cut it every week, no strings attached, and I get to change the colors often without worrying about damage”
For an artist with poetically profound lyrics, Amaarae admits that the songs she never takes time to write are always the best ones. “I freestyle a lot, or I write things in my head when I’m in the shower, or doing mundane activities”
“I wrote lonely when I was cooking rice for my friend, Allure. He started playing the guitar and I just sang along to it and he was like yo… record that”
“I get my inspiration from the sex I’m having and whoever I’m dating at the time. When I create, my mindset is always like dang! I really want someone to have sex so deep to this that my DNA is encoded in the baby that becomes a product of that sex”
She also says, “My mom is such an ace when it comes to my music. She lets me film all my live performances in our house, my studio is in my room and it’s hella dudes passing through here, she’s actually helping me build an attachment studio to our house so that she doesn’t have all these niggas rolling through the crib”
Watch the live video for Lonely, recorded in Amaarae’s living room
If like us, you’re wondering what else Amaarae has got cooking up, her EP; Sex, Heartbreak & the Beach is set to be released at the end of October. We’re promised lots of tropical, relaxing vibes and soft beautiful music to ride with friends or have sex to, just in time for the holidays.
One Last Thing
We didn’t want the interview to end so we posed one last question and this was what she had to say:
Q: What’s one thing in this world you wish you could change that you have no control over?
I wish I could change the fact that people hurt and suffer, I genuinely wish there was no poverty in this world and that we were all born with equal opportunity. Some of us are lucky, some people literally have nothing to hold on to.
Also the fact that Donald trump is the leader of the free world. That mf is all the way out of his natural born mind…. and that damn toupee 🙄🙄🙄 Jesus be a fence 😩