Originally published on So So Gay on 5 September 2014.
It’s been almost five years since R&B singer Ameriie released her last studio album, the superb and shamefully overlooked In Love & War. Cut to the here and now, and the ‘Take Control’ singer has not one, but two new albums in the pipeline, and along the way managed to pick up an extra ‘i’ for her name.
Ahead of the release of her new single, ‘What I Want’, we managed to grab a chat with Ameriie in between appointments last week to find out a little more about her new projects, her secret love of sci-fi, but more importantly whether she’d pick fish and chips or tea and biscuits…
So So Gay: Hello Ameriie, it’s so nice to speak with you!
How are you?
I’m good and enjoying the London sun!
How long have you been here now? Are you here for a little while?
I’ve only been here for a day so far, actually. I arrived yesterday and I’ll be going to Paris tomorrow… but I’ll be back! I’m coming back for the G-A-Y performance, which I’m looking forward to!
So hopping and skipping all over the place then…
Yeah. It’s the best way to travel!
Have you got something special planned for your G-A-Y performance?
Well definitely, you know, high energy, because it’s always such a great time and I performed there once before, and it’s less like a show and more like a party. I mean I’m still performing, but the audience is very involved and I like that a lot. So, it’s gonna be a good time!
And of course, there’s your new single, ‘What I Want’, which we love…
Aw, thank you! Thank you so much!
…and it samples The Sugarhill Gang’s ‘Apache’ in it…
Actually, a lot of people think that, but it actually samples the Incredible Bongo Band’s version of ‘Apache’.
Ah, OK, good to know! You’re not averse to sampling songs on your work; how do you go about choosing what to sample? Is it an organic process, you hear something and think ‘oo, I should use that’, or is it more scientific?
Well…with this one, it actually came from my husband [Lenny Nicholson]. Mr Nicholson actually produced this track…and really it just came from him knowing me and knowing what…’cause he really knows me as an artist, what makes me tick and what I like and what feel I’m going for on whichever particular project I’m doing. So it was his idea and then he just wanted to know if I was interested in it, and of course he kinda knew I would be already anyway. So then like a couple of weeks later he had this track and I was like ‘woah! That’s great!’, but then I was like ‘well now I have to actually write the song!’ [Laughs]
Now you’ve already released the lyric video for the song, can we expect the official video for it soon?
Yes! Yeah, we’re actually coming up with that now. Just created the treatment idea and everything, so it’s just waiting for the next step. We have the director and everything set up so, you know…it’s coming along!
Looking forward to it! Now you’ve got two albums in the works, and ‘What I Want’ is from Because I Love It 2 [BILI], right…?
Well, it goes on to the album BILI, which I guess is an extension because there was a Because I Love It back in 07. This one isn’t technically a part two, but it does borrow the name. A lot of the fans had been calling it BILI to shorten it, instead of Because I Love It, so I was like, ‘Let’s just call it BILI. That makes sense!’
And it’s a nice catchy name!
Yeah, I like it!
And then you have Cymatika, Vol. 1…
Yes, it’s going to be a trilogy.
Which sounds like quite an epic project! Have you got a timeline in mind for that?
Well, ideally, we’ll be releasing BILI towards the top of the year…Spring-ish…and then Cymatika shortly thereafter, because hopefully Cymatika should be almost finished, as far as the recording process goes. So, that’s the idea…
Are both albums pretty much written and recorded now then?
Mmm, well, songs get knocked off because, you know, it takes a while to record and then I keep going and the sound continues to evolve. So, a lot of the time I can be like 70 percent done, but then I continue a little further and the sound has kind of shifted. But then that means some songs no longer fit and so that the project can go back to like 40 percent finished.
So can we expect a second single from BILI before it’s released?
I believe so, yes. I’m not certain, but I believe so…
In terms of actually on the album, are there any collaborations involved on either project?
Well, there’s a possible, and it’s too early to say now, but if things work out then it’d be amazing! But I don’t want to say yet, because it hasn’t been done yet! [laughs]
So who would be your dream collaboration then?
[Teasing] I can’t tell you that! [laughs] We’ll see, we’ll see…
Now you’re half-Korean, and we’re big fans of K-Pop here at So So Gay…
…so we were quite excited to see you’d collaborated with girl group 4minute on a rerecording of ‘Heard Em All’ for the Asia version of In Love & War; might they reappear in a future collaboration further down the line?
You know, I haven’t done a collaboration since then, but I’m always open to new collaborations. I think they can be a lot of fun. So, we’ll see! I’m open, I’m always open.
So have you got any K-Pop artist recommendations yourself?
I haven’t actually listened to any recently, so I probably don’t have any new recommendations. I’m not really that current with what’s going on, but it’s big though – it’s getting bigger than ever!
Yeah, with other acts like Girls’ Generation making the cross-over too…
Now alongside your music projects we hear you’re also busy writing novels at the moment, a sci-fi fantasy novel?
Yeah, I’m writing right now.
Is this where you reveal it’s autobiographical and you’ve been one of the X-Men all this time?
Can you tell us a bit about them?
It’s a bit early days, but right now I’m actually in revisions with my agent. I have a few things I’m writing, scif-fi and fantasy. Speculative fiction, basically.
Are you a bit of a closet geek then?
Oh yeah! I love all that stuff. Thinking about what that means for where we are and where we’re going. So it just totally makes sense to put all that in a story, you know?
What kind of sci-fi are you into then? Is it more your TV sci-fi or more the graphic novels and the like?
You know, I like it all. I like the TV shows, I used to love Quantum Leap when I was little. I’ve read some cool speculative fiction from actually some British authors… Laline Paull’s The Bees. There’s also British artist Sally Green, she wrote Half Bad, which is a really cool one and I think they’re making it into a movie, which is awesome.
And graphic novels, I’ve actually just started reading this amazing horror graphic novel by Joe Hill, who is Stephen King’s son, and he’s a great novelist and that’s how I discovered him, but then I found out he wrote graphic novels and I was like ‘well, I never normally read graphic novels, but let me check it out’, and I was like addicted!
The guy that he wrote with, Gabriel Rodriguez, is fantastic. The novel’s called Locke & Key and it is literally addictive! You won’t want to stop reading it.
Is it a series then?
There are six volumes.
Wow! Everything seems to be so huge these days, like Game of Thrones, with masses of volumes…
Well, it’s definitely not that long! [laughs] Oh my goodness, yeah, I read A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire and I’m on book two. I usually give myself a year to read each one while I’m reading other things, and I was supposed to read to catch up with the HBO series and I wanted to be ahead of it…but I’m just so left behind in the dust.
Are you a big reader then?
We know you’re instrumental in the writing side of your music, so it’s interesting to find out you’re writing novels. You’re obviously endlessly creative and your output is rather high!
…you’ve been away, but you’ve obviously not been slacking!
No, no, no! [laughs] I’m always creating!
And we’re just excited to have you back and looking forward to the new music.
Aw, thank you so much, I appreciate that.
To finish things off today we’re just going to do a little quickfire quiz…
You’re obviously known for your hit single ‘1 Thing’, so if you could only have one thing, would you have either… cats or dogs?
Beach or countryside?
That’s really hard though because I don’t wanna really get in the sand…and only if it’s clear water. Only if it’s a tropical island!
We’d all go for that!
If not, then I want the countryside!
Sweet or savoury?
Book night or movie night?
Ooo, book night!
Pop BANGER or power ballad?
Brandy or Monica?
Aww, they’re both really great. That’s a hard one because they’re so different. I’ll have to go with both on those, because Monica has that sassy thing going on, y’know, just one of them days…and Brandy has really cool harmonies and a very cool water voice. Monica’s got an earth voice and Brandy’s got a water voice; they’re very different!
TLC or Destiny’s Child?
Awwww….these are really hard! They’re like apples and oranges though! Hmm, TLC has seniority…. I’ll say TLC.
Jay-Z or Solange?
Oh, come on now! We’re not even gonna go there! [laughs]
Scary or Sporty?
Oooo, hmmm. I’ll say Scary – representing for the browns!
Patsy Stone or Karen Walker?
Ahh, who are they again?
AbFab or Will & Grace, basically.
You know, I never really watched either!
We recommend you do!
Harry Potter or Twilight?
[sings] Harry Potter!
Thundercats or Transformers?
Grease or Grease 2?
That is tough, because ‘Cool Rider’, I love that song…but Grease… You know, you have to go with the original. I’ll go with the original.
We’re going to finish with a few British themed ones…Eastenders or Coronation Street?
[long pause] I have no idea [laughs].
We’ll skip that one! Chips and gravy, or tea and biscuits?
Oh, tea and biscuits!
Prince William or Prince Harry?
Aw, I do not choose between siblings!
You’re being very diplomatic.
Yes, you cannot compare siblings. That is an actual rule of the sibling code.
OK, we’ll let you off. Then finally, have you heard of Marmite…Marmite or Bovril?
No, what is that?
They’re strange yeast and meat-extract spreads. We don’t recommend them. It was a trick question really, as the correct answer is actually neither.
Oh, OK! It sounds very odd!
If anybody offers you them, just say no!
[laughs] OK, I’ll remember that! You know it kinda sucks that I didn’t know enough to play the game! [laughs]
You’ve been a good sport, so thank you.
Good luck with the new single and thanks for speaking with us.
Thank you for having me!
‘What I Want’ will be released on 28 September and Ameriie will be performing at G-A-Y on Saturday 6 September. To keep up to date with all things Ameriie, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @ItsAmeriie