By Keiana Smith-McDowell, Contributor, DC Music Live
Even though she likes to refer to her music as Folk Rock, when you hear 27-year-old New Jersey native, Amy Regan’s voice, I’m sure her smooth yet soulful pipes would blow you away.
With the March 5th release of her 2013 independent album, Pretty Little Baby – an album packed with songs about the ups and downs of love and relationships – Amy is touring guitar and ukulele in tow from state to state making sure Amy Regan becomes a household name.
I got a chance to catch up with her before her show at Ebenezers Coffee House in D.C., check out what she had to say:
How long have you known that you wanted to be a musician?
Well, I first started writing songs when I was about 13 years old and after I wrote my first song I kind of knew it was really powerful and I kind of knew. But even before then I always loved singing, and I was always interested in doing musicals. Before I started writing, I was performing.
Do you remember the very first song that you wrote?
Yes! I don’t remember what it was called but it was like in eight grade and it was about this boy I liked at the time, typical (laughs). I have it recorded somewhere I think.
So you have your guitar with you and I saw you play piano as well, when did you start to play and was it something your parents kind of forced on you?
Well, actually my parents didn’t force it on me at all; it was kind of the opposite. I didn’t start playing until I was young, well I’m young now but I started studying piano and guitar when I was like 11. And I had a lot of friends whose parents made them take lessons when they were like 6 and then they hated piano, and then I wanted to take it for so long that I finally asked my parents for piano lessons and I just loved it the whole time because it was me that wanted to do it and once I did it, I was very committed to it, you know I studied and I wanted to practice all the time.
Do you think playing both instruments will help your career in the future?
Yeah, I think that their both really great for me in different ways, I definitely love playing while I sing so that I can perform solo and so that I can have full control over things when I want to. I do play more guitar now and I also started playing Ukulele too, just because I like when I’m on stage to be able to move around and be able to stand in front of the audience, when you’re at piano you’re kind of hidden behind, so I tend to do just a few a piano songs in each set now. I would love to one day … I’m kind of thinking my next writing I want to write some stuff where I’m not playing something and it’s all about the lyrics and the performance of it. But I’m always going to want to play instruments.
Do you write all your own music?
Your album Pretty Little Baby – it came out this year – are you happy with the way people are receiving it?
Oh definitely! I’m really happy with this record and its been a little while in the making and I definitely feel that it’s my most definitive work to date, I feel like it really represents who I am as an artist the best out of any of my previous work, so I’m excited to have it out there and be touring and supporting it.
So how long will you be touring?
Well, I’m doing some trips around the Northeast for the spring, and then I’m currently working on my summer tour, so I’m planning to go out to the Midwest and West Coast too.
You’re an independent artist, is it a goal to be signed to a major label?
I guess it depends. I would be open to it if someone were interested in talking to me about that, I guess it just depends on the situation. I feel like the industry has changed so much that my mind is kind of more focused on what I can do independently than it is on seeking other people to help, but of course I want to do both and if there is someone who comes along that I can partner with then I would definitely be open to it. But I also know that because the industry is so rough right now that it’s good that artist have the power to independently create their careers on their own.
So you like having that creative control?
Yea, definitely and just the control of being able to decide what to do next, you know like… I can control everything (laughs)
Who are some of your musical influences?
Well, growing up I loved Joni Mitchell, and a lot of people sometimes hear that in my voice because I sometimes um, maybe not so much on this album but sometimes when I sing songs I kind of have a little Joni Mitchell influence. My influence really range all over the place, like I love some classic singers like Ella Fitzgerald, I love Standards and Cole Porter and George Gershwin, but that’s only like one little subset what I like. I love rock music. I went through a phase where I was really into Radiohead, and Coldplay, and The Beatles. So it really ranges and you know I studied classical piano and classical voice growing up so I also love classical music and I love that in classical jazz there’s usually more complex harmony and the arrangements are a little more complex, so it really helped me to study that music to have different perspectives even though now I want to do… well, I mostly do folk rock kind of in the popular realm of music.
So if you could describe your music in three words, how would you describe it?
Three words? Ok, Um… well, let’s see, well, this new album some of it feels like… it’s a mix of folky introspective writing with also some soul influence, and some moments of edginess. Its kind of like Joni Mitchell meets… add a full band and some Fiona Apple edginess.
What genre would you put yourself in, what lane do you ultimately want to go down?
I definitely think folk rock, or if you’re going to categorize it, like Triple A. It’s adult, and alternative but it’s still pretty accessible.
How do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
Wow, that’s a good question! I think it depends on the song and the situation, because there are lots of different situations.
Ok, I’ll give you a song… Some Kind of Blues?
Some Kind of Blues? Um, well I think I want them to connect to the message of the song and to connect to what I’m singing about, and to be a little introspective, like you know really feel what I’m singing about.
So one of your songs was featured in a Hertz commercial how was that for you?
Oh, it was incredible! It was such a great opportunity and they had me act in it too so that was an incredible experience.
How do your parents feel about your career?
They’re really happy about all the exciting things I have going on recently, but they definitely have had their concerns in the past about my financial future, but they support what I do so they’re happy that Im doing it.
So…What’s next for Amy Regan?
Well, I’m going to be touring a lot this spring and summer to support the album and then I’m going to be… I’m actually working on a few more recordings now of some Beck songs. So I’m working on that right now then after that I’ll be working on another album, I’m kind of wrapping my head around some new ideas, but I’m juggling so many different things that I feel like I need to wait until I have time to sit a write an album, but I kind of know where it’s going. I have a bunch of ideas so I’m excited for when I finally have the time to just sit there and do it.
You can download Amy’s new album Pretty Little Baby on iTunes