2014 is shaping up to be an important year for one lovely, new, local vocalist. Fresh off the heels of a brand new release on TranceCoda Records and a second release on Full On 140 Recordings, Amber Traill – an Australian born singer/songwriter now plying her trade on our shores – joins us at EDM TOR to talk past, present, future, music, partying, travelling, the industry, her inspiration and all the juicy details in between.
Hi Amber! First off, is Amber Traill your birth name?
Yessir! Amber Traill is my real name.
Any reason you stuck with it and didn’t opt for an artist alias.
As I kid I was such a nerd! I got bullied really badly for being intelligent and on a scholarship. But my parents told me to be proud of who I was – I copped a lot of flack for being ‘Amber Traill’. But I am a Traill and eventually I learned to be proud of my name and what it stood for. I wouldn’t give that up for anything. So when it came time to choose my artist name – although I was urged to pick a ‘marketable alias’ – I stood firm. No gimmicks; I’ll never pretend to be something I’m not.
Hailing from the land down under, with a sweet accent to show for it, were you born in Melbourne, Australia, or did you move there?
Actually I was born in Brisbane… in a place called Sunnybank! My Mum used to call me ‘her little sunshine’ as a kid, haha. I grew up on the Gold Coast and moved to Tokyo after I graduated. After living in Japan for a year, I returned to Australia and moved to Melbourne to attend University. I didn’t realize it at the time, but living in these two iconic cities had a big impact on my decision to pursue music. Karaoke was the most popular pastime of my Japanese school friends and the Melbourne sound is so unique – I don’t know any other city in the world that has a ‘sub genre’ of music named after it. I spent my weekends hanging out at places where Joel Fletcher, Will Sparks and Orkkestrated would play.
Did you always want to be in the entertainment/music industry, or growing up did you want to be involved in another profession, have plans for other studies, etc?
Haha no! Actually I grew up wanting to be a lawyer. I was such a nerd! I was taking law courses after school, while I was still in Junior High. I was captain of the debate team and the public speaking team and did mock trials every month. I was on the student council and I did youth parliament – my whole future was planned out for me. But one day I woke up and realized that what I’d been working toward since I was little… wasn’t what I really wanted. I wanted to travel, to meet new people every day, to have adventures – I didn’t want to fight other people’s battles, I wanted to leave behind a legacy and create something for which I’d be remembered and something that would make people happy. I make Trance music because I want to make people happy. I love my job.
What impact did your family have on your career choice and your passion for music as a whole? And are they supportive of this latest chapter of your life?
Both my parents have told me that “they’re too old to understand the ‘doof doof’ music I make” which makes me laugh, but they’re both still so supportive of my endeavors. Both my parents have told me they think I’m talented at writing poetry/lyrics and have a lovely singing voice. They’re always telling me to do what makes me happy. It’s kind of amazing to have that kind of support – I’m very close with my family. They raised me right and help me stay grounded.
I heard you actually started out as a DJ in this industry. Do you still find time to spin or DJ at all or is it strictly pens and microphones now?
Yes, my music career did start in DJing! I discovered Trance and fell in love with it and wanted to share my love and knowledge of the genre with others. Eventually, I realized I didn’t just want to play other people’s music, I wanted to create the music – I wanted to be a part of this beautiful thing I was listening to every day. I do still like to DJ though… In fact, I’d like to get back into that more… Stay tuned! Haha 😉
Oceanlab! That was the beginning of the end for me. Then I began to delve deeper into this thing they call ‘trance’. Like the true nerd that I am, I did my research. I read books, borrowed CDs from mates, and watched films. I started with the classics – Paul Oakenfold’s Goa Gold and Goa Silver mixes, early Paul Van Dyk and Armin Van Buuren, old school Tiesto, Way Out West, Gabriel and Dresden… I listened to a lot of BBC Radio One guest mixes and I loved the glitchy technicality of BT’s music… actually Matt Darey‘s ‘Nocturnal’ podcasts were the foundation on which I built my trance knowledge and passion.
I loved the fluidity of old school trance – every song blended seamlessly into the next. The set took you on a journey, in its entirety. These days, I often feel that DJs try to take you on a journey with each song – every song is comprised of an epic buildup and an epic drop… but this can get tired. I like it when the whole set tells a story and songs are selected because they work well within the set, not because they ‘get the crowd pumping’. The DJ should be working to keep the crowd happy, not relying on an individual ‘banger’ track.
Are you fully a ‘trance snob’ or do you indulge in other forms of dance music as well?
Haha! Well trance is the love of my life and nothing will ever compare… that having been said, I do adore other types of music too. I like being surprised by sets that take you on a journey and the skills of the DJ.
Having made your first proper strides in the music industry in New York, what brought you to Toronto?
Well I’m actually half-Australian and half-Canadian. I grew up in Australia and my brother and sister still live there, but my parents have moved back to Canada. After living in New York for a year, my Mum was living in Toronto and was very sick… I moved to Toronto to look after her.
By watching your social media, I noticed the list of places in the world you’ve been to is vast and still growing… what are some of the more exotic, interesting places you’ve visited?
Haha, I think I might be part gypsy – I definitely have wanderlust! I love learning about new cultures and studying foreign languages… I actually speak fluent Japanese – I learnt while living in Tokyo. I’ve also been to Korea, Thailand and China… and I was obsessed with Ancient Egypt as a kid! Cleopatra and Howard Carter were my heroes… so I took myself to Egypt while at University. People told me I was crazy to travel around Africa and The Middle East by myself, but I love going on adventures! You definitely learn a lot about yourself when you displace yourself in a foreign culture and have to rely only on yourself. I’ve also traveled all around Australia, Canada and the USA… Europe is next on my list!
You don’t mind indulging in a wild night out do you?
Haha, well making music always comes first for me and I will often stay home and skip nights out or parties to record vocals in my home studio. A party is just one night… the music I make will last forever.
But I definitely love to party and have adventures! I want to experience everything at least once and I don’t like to be afraid of anything. I suppose you could say that I ‘work hard, play hard’… and nobody can party like an Australian can! 😉
What inspires you to make these songs?
Every time I write a song, I try to capture an emotion… or a combination of emotions. Perhaps it’s something that I’ve felt and am trying to work through/understand. Perhaps it’s something that I used to feel and am now at peace with. It may even be something that I wish I could feel or that I know other people have had to deal with. If my lyrics can make people happy or help them cope with things that happen to them… I mean that’s all I want. I make this music for the fans – for the Trance Family!
I was blown away when Simon Patterson played Let Me Go on BBC Radio One… it was a massive compliment because he’s such a legend – he’s is one of my favorite DJs in the world and he’s so talented. Then when Aly & Fila named Let Me Go Wonder of the Week on FSOE I absolutely lit up from the inside… I love their productions and have always wanted to work with them! I’ve also gotten messages from people such as Photographer, Jase Thirwall, Akira Kayosa, Temple One, Dave Correa and Matt Chowski, telling me that they’ve been playing Let Me Go and Gravity in their sets and it’s been getting amazing crowd response… and that makes me so happy.
12. You are obviously not letting up now with so much momentum behind you. What can we look forward to from Amber Traill?
I’ve been so busy lately! Working on a lot of new projects and traveling/making plans to travel for music… you’ll just have to wait and see… stay tuned with EDM TOR because I will be keeping you guys in the loop! 😉
Rory Harrison – EDM TOR