Mon. Jan 18th, 2021

Powerful new album from US-based South African singer Amandala

The Cape Town-born indie-pop and folk-rock musician with the distinctive voice has come full circle with her new seven-track EP.

powerful new album from us based south african singer amandala - Powerful new album from US-based South African singer Amandala

Stronger is the ethereal singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s third professional studio release, and is based on the concept of coming full circle and stepping into one’s power.

It was recorded in both the US and South Africa, and released on digital platforms in September 2020Recording began at Earwig Studio in Seattle, continuing at Sunset Recording Studios in Stellenbosch. Coming full circle, the songs were mastered by Ed Brooks from Resonant Mastering back home in Seattle.

Amandala’s intention with Stronger was to write songs to make listeners feel empowered and more connected; songs that encourage and inspire reflection. The South African caught up with her to chat about her music, influences and more.

Q&A: AMANDALA (REAL NAME AMANDA LAMPRECHT)

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The album cover of ‘Stronger’. Image: Supplied

Tell us about Seattle and its music.

In the past, Seattle was known for bands like Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Heart, Pearl Jam and Mudhoney. 

The Seattle music scene remains vibrant with bands and artists whose music spans many genres — Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Head and the Heart, Fleet Foxes, Dave Matthews Band, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, The Black Tones, Brandi Carlile and many others. 

Seattle supports its local independent artists, and there are many bands people have never heard of that are loved and supported on the Seattle music scene. 

What radio play is your music getting?

Many local and national radio stations in the US play music that is self-released and independent. A dream came true for me in 2020 when US radio stations start charting Stronger on their Top 30s. 

Others include BreakThru Radio in New York City, WCNI in New London, Connecticut, and WODU in Norfolk, Virginia — the last being my biggest chart supporter, placing Stronger in their #5 slot! Quite a few other stations in the US are also playing songs from the album.

Who have you collaborated with in Seattle and SA?

I’ve been very fortunate to collaborate within Seattle’s vibrant music scene. I’ve played shows with drummer Mike Stone, who played with Pearl Jam. I made a record which Andrew Joslyn, violinist for Macklemore, and Davey Brozowski, travelling drummer for Modest Mouse, played on. 

I headlined a show in Seattle where Trey Gun, a former member of King Crimson, opened the evening playing his war guitar. 

I have been very fortunate also to have the best South African musicians play on my album — Henry Steel, guitarist for Karen Zoid, Frank Freeman (Eet Kreef), Kevin Gibson, a drummer who played with Johnny Clegg, and cellist Anjulie Nock, who played the cello on Francois Van Coke’s As Ek Kon.

The album also features background vocals by talented Seattle musician Cebron Hansen and cello by Michael Corson.

Listen to Amandala’s song ‘Flow’ below:

Why do you want to record and release your own music?

Nothing else makes me feel as alive as creating music. Music for me is the highest form of art. I paint and sell my paintings as well, but I am most alive when I write and release music.

How would you define success?  

Success in being in the moment. Instead of always projecting into the future, I try to feel the magic of now. I try to feel grateful for all the good things that have happened so far, and I keep on creating new material and coming up with new ideas.

What is your favourite instrument and why?

My favourite instrument is my voice, but I do love to play the violin, piano and guitar. Of those, the violin is my strongest instrument. I was classically trained since the age of six. 

What have been your main musical influences?

When I was very little, I remember seeing a music video of Joan Jett on a TV screen at the Wimpy in Pretoria. She made such a huge impact on me; seeing her in her leather jacket playing her guitar and singing I Love Rock ‘n Roll. I wanted to be that oomphy and free.

Growing up, I loved the music of The Cranberries, Sinead O’Connor, Texas, A-ha, Crowded House, The Cure, Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Metallica… the list goes on and on. 

Today I listen to everything from classical to jazz to rock and pop. I love Sia, PJ Harvey, Florence and the Machine, Bjork, Coldplay, John Mayer, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Rea Morris, Bat for Lashes… the list goes on. My favourite South African artist is still Ard Mathews, from Just Jinger.

Do you have a favourite sport?

Gymnastics. I follow it. I even fly across the country to gymnastics events to see who will make the US Olympic team.

How would you describe your music and who might like it?

Stronger has an indie-pop, folk-rock sound. I write all my songs. I think people who like artists like Dolores O’Riordan/The Cranberries, Björk, Natalie Imbruglia, Dido and Sia might also like my music. 

My music does not sit in one specific genre, but captures a fluid mood which is different from song to song and album to album. Stronger definitely rocks more than my Afrikaans album ‘Alles Wat Jy Lief Het’ and my dream pop album ‘Far & Wide‘ that were released in 2016.

I plan to make each album uniquely different, and I think my music is becoming stronger and better with each new album.

Live or in the studio – which do you prefer?

I love being in the studio as this is where my songs take shape. It’s the most invigorating experience to hear how the songs become full-rounded creations. It is in the studio where all the magic happens. 

Laying down track by track is just like creating a painting. Sometimes we put more paint on the canvas than what is needed and that doesn’t necessarily make it in the mix.

Playing shows is also fun. Being a single woman artist without a band, I get to play with a new band every time I play a show, so it’s sometimes a bit stressful recruiting a new band every time.

But it is also fabulous, because every player I’ve played with has their own uniqueness and it makes my songs so much better. I’ve met the most incredible musicians and artist doing music in this way. I also have a few musician friends who play with me on a regular basis. 

What inspires and drives you? 

Knowing that I am growing as a person, and that my music is a gift to myself and something that fills me with joy. 

Favourite song on the new record?

Nothing (Cape Town version) is my favourite: “And I wonder if you ever knew you’re no better, no worse than anyone. Sleepwalking, awake, we are all on a journey to the same nothing.”

Nothing can be something but in the end you have to be yourself and do what is right for you, as no-one is getting out alive.

Listen to ‘Nothing’ here:

Biggest indulgence in your daily life?

Coffee, yoga, anything ocean (I’m a mermaid at heart) and travelling.

Where have you lived and travelled?

I grew up in South Africa. I lived in London for a year and in Seattle for 17 years. I’ve travelled to many countries — India, China, Thailand, Sweden, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Namibia, Australia, Wales, Netherlands, Belgium… everywhere I go I find inspiration for my music.

Why Amandala as a stage name?

My name is Amanda Lamprecht, but Lamprecht is too hard to pronounce, so I settled on Amanda and “La” for Lamprecht. Amandala sounds like “mandala”, which is a Sanskrit word. A mandala is a tool in many spiritual traditions to aid a practitioner to inner states of wholeness. 

What do you want listeners to feel when they hear your record?

Refinement, quality and that something original was made here; something honest and something inside themselves resonating with what they hear; but still to allow the music to sit where it wants to sits.

Thoughts on vegetarians?

I’ve been a vegetarian for 19 years. 

Can you remember the first album you ever got?

99 Luftballons. I had the little record; it had the English song on one side and the German song on the other side. I loved the song. My first full-length album I bought was Flashdance, from the movie soundtrack. I was in primary school. I use to dance to this music as if I was dancing in the movie.

What else have you done that people don’t know about?

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Amandala is also a highly trained yoga instructor and teacher. Image via Instagram @amandalamusic

I studied law at Nelson Mandela University and got my degree. Then I worked at a law firm in Johannesburg, but quit my job before I could write the bar exam. I became an IT recruiter, recruiting computer skills for large organisations.

When I moved to the US, I could not work at first. I travelled the world and studied yoga in depth. I also went to India twice to further my studies. I have the highest credentials in yoga with the Yoga Alliance of America.

I studied acutonics, which is like acupuncture but instead of needles one uses tuning forks and Tibetan sound bowls. I became an acutonics teacher after four years of study at the Kairos Institute of Harmonic Medicine. I also studied Reiki in India and became a Reiki master. 

I opened a healing centre where I taught yoga and violin, did acutonics healing sessions and taught Reiki classes to big groups. I became a full-time yoga teacher and taught yoga classes at Seattle University, at several yoga studios in Seattle and at gyms. I taught yoga in London as well.

Back in Seattle from London, I opened Earth Minerals Scratch Patch, where the floors were covered with tumble gemstones and crystals that came from the Simons Town Scratch Patch in South Africa. My shop was a hit in Seattle.

Today I still teach yoga and own a boutique computer tech recruitment company.

For more more on Amandala visit amandalamusic.com. Amandala’s music can be streamed or downloaded from Hearnow, Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube and Amazon.

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