Swansea singer Amy Sinha uses social media to catch the attention of New York record label
When Amy Sinha began uploading snippets of her new songs online, little did she realise
that they would come to the attention of a New York record label. She talks to MARK REES about it.
Yes, we all know that the internet has made the world a considerably smaller place, and in the blink of an eye we can share our deepest thoughts, brightest ideas and cutest kitten pictures with distant relatives and future friends in the most far-flung regions of the earth.
For music fans, the cyberspace revolution has meant that discovering new tunes has never been easier. Gone are the old days — some would say the good old days — of browsing through dusty old boxes in second hand record shops in the hope of unearthing an undiscovered gem, replaced by digital playlists and online recommendations, with the next ‘big thing’ emerging in the click of a mouse.
For Swansea singer Amy Sinha, it was embracing social media which led to her most recent, and most unlikely recording collaboration: across the Atlantic with Brooklyn-based record label Hawthplay Records.
“It’s a funny story,” says Amy with a smile when she recalls first hooking up with the New York music makers.
“It started when I got into Instagram last year,” she says of the picture and video sharing network.
“It only lets you put 15 second clips on, but I kept getting these songs in my head, so I recorded these short videos and then shared them on Facebook.”
The videos were shared by her friends — and their friends and their friends and their friends and their friends — and soon came to the attention of Ronald Lashley, a former jazz musician from Barbados who now writes and releases music from the Big Apple. It wasn’t long before he was enlisting Amy’s services.
“Ronald got in touch, and asked if I’d sing on his Christmas album,” she explains of their initial introduction.
The Christmas song was a success, and a few months later Amy was back in the studio laying down the vocals to her first single for the American label, Show Me The Way.
The recording process really is a Transatlantic affair: the music is written and performed in New York, but Amy’s vocals are added in a recording studio in Swansea. Although given the choice, she would be more than happy to jump on a plane and record the remainder of her upcoming album, Bossa Girl, in the Empire City.
“I’d love to go to New York,” she says.
“That’s my aim, to tour the world and to do different things.
“I love recording, and you have to do it; it gets you around the world. But it’s a means to performing live, and that’s what I want to do – I prefer singing live.”
Amy singles out her times performing at Wales Millennium Centre as particular highlights of her career to date.
“I’ve sung there a few times, and each time was amazing. What was really good was singing my own songs – and selling my own CDs after it!” she laughs.
“I like that freedom.”
Growing up in Dunvant, Amy credits her local schooling with fostering her love of music – and for specifically pushing her in the jazz direction.
“I started in Dunvant Primary School, when I was in the school choir,” she tells me. “Then I went to St Michael’s comprehensive, where we did drama and I was always the one they called on if they needed singing.
“When I was 16 I went to Gorseinon College, and that’s when it really took off.”
During what she’d describe as the ‘golden period’.
“Definitely. 1996 to 1999 was a key time. I was in the same year as Katherine Jenkins, and there were loads of performances and awards and things going on. Penelope Ryan was principal, and Les Ryan was my teacher – he said I should be a jazz singer.
“After that I went to music college in Leeds and did a jazz degree.”
All of which made Amy something of a jazz specialist – although she’s keen to point out that she can do so much more.
“I used to be a jazz singer, but now I’m just a vocalist,” she tells me.
“I like to do other stuff, and I don’t want to be put into a box.”
That ‘other stuff’ has included a stint singing with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales as part of the BBC National Chorus of Wales – and Amy admits that classical singing is tougher than it looks.
“I just get these ideas in my head and I go for them,” she says of he decision to join the chorus — albeit temporarily.
“It was such hard work, they’re so good. I wanted to perform in St David’s Hall and the Brangwyn Hall at Christmas, and I did, but it’s not a long-term thing.
“I’ll stick to my own music!”
• Amy Sinha’s new single Show Me The Way is out now.
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