Interview: 2010 RBMA Participant Amenta

Amenta, a Toronto-born vocalist with an electro-soul sound, was one of the sixty participants in 2010’s Red Bull Music Academy in London. She has collaborated with Portformat, fLako and more recently, Mau’lin on a funky project dubbed “Deeper Than The Sun.” LOOKOUT recently interviewed her by email and got a glimpse into her overflowing memories of her time in London and what her musical career is like post-RBMA. To apply for this year's Red Bull Music Academy in Tokyo, or for more information, click here. The application phase ends April 4, 2011.

LOOKOUT: How did you decide to apply to RBMA?

Amenta: I heard about RBMA in 2007 when it was being held in Toronto. I saw Muhsinah perform and a friend Jesse Ohtake encouraged me to apply. By the end of 2008, I was reminded by another friend, My Man Henri, and thought I really need to do it this year. I attended the info session where Flying Lotus was speaking at RBMA Toronto and was further inspired by his account of his experience.

Do you have a hunch as to why you were picked over all the other applicants?

You mean they didn't pick me for my amazing hula-hoop skills?? Well then I don't know.

What's your most profound memory from your time at the Academy?

There are sooo many to choose from. But the show I did with Hasan at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) comes to mind. I remember telling myself: "do not **** up." I recall seeing my classmates at the very front screaming and cheering and I got all choked up. The audience was sooo amazing and I received a lot of love and support afterwards. It was a memorable night.

How has your experience with RBMA affected your musical career? Has it affected your sound or musical style?

It has helped me meet wonderful fellow artists. Who you know and who you vibe with is VERY important. The power of partnerships and friendships is not to be underestimated as a strong force that can drive and influence your career. I'm so thankful to know the people I have met through RBMA. There were a lot of instrumentalists in my term – this has influenced me greatly and allowed me to really dig deeper vocally and find new approaches with melodies and much more. One man in particular who helped me discover my potential is Hasan Hujairi - Oud Master. As I touched on before, our performance at the Institute of Contemporary Arts really taught me a lot about myself. As well, being a participant of RBMA looks damn good on your resume. Upon hearing that you were a participant, people who know you give you major points and people who don't are inclined to learn more – and that's worldwide. It's pretty amazing.

You recently collaborated with another class of 2010 participant, Mau’lin. What’s life like post-Academy in terms of sustaining relationships?

Life is good! Most of us are pretty tight. A week will not pass without me talking to at least 5 or 6 of my 2010 classmates or term 2 homies. We roll deep ;). We hit each other up for vocals or drums or relationship advice. Not to give away our class secrets, but we still use our group email to connect. It's a beautiful thing. We continue to collaborate and share ideas and/or goals for the future or simply make faces at each other on Skype. We really support each other. They are definitely family.

Do you have any advice for this year’s RBMA applicants?

Be yourself. Put as much of yourself into your application as possible. Leave an imprint. By the time you’re finished your application, RBMA people should be able to tell what you smell like. I'm not joking ;). Let your funk shine.