SYJ: What is the main message of your work and what is it classified to the rest of the world as?
Amae Love: At its core, the work I do is really about empowering people to live their own unique expression, which to me is the same thing as being your truest authentic self. That’s not easy to do in the world we live in, but where happiness is concerned, it’s everything! That’s what I do in my music & clothing designs…I embody my own truth. And my prayer is that by doing that, it empowers others to do the same. That’s the whole reason I do what I do. To the world, I am known as singer/songwriter, recording and performing artist, and fashion designer: Amae Love.
SYJ: Give three of the important landmarks along your path that led you to where you are now. What challenges did you face? Did you have moments of doubt? What happened? How did you overcome it? What did you learn?
Amae Love: I considered whether or not to share this, but it can’t really be avoided if we are discussing being true to ourselves! The biggest, most life changing landmark in my life has been breaking away from the conservative Mormon religious faith that I was raised in. As children, we don’t really have a choice to live outside of our family’s customs, rules, and religion. We accept it as our own, because it’s essential to our survival. But when we become young adults, we begin to question what feels right for us, and I was forced to question EVERYTHING I had ever known very early on! I had an awakening and a crisis of faith at 16 years of age, and that challenged everything I had been raised to believe.
So, as a very young woman I had to decide whether to follow the path my family had laid out for for me, or break out into the unknown by following only my own heart and truth. It was an extremely difficult time, and it seemed no matter what I chose, I would lose. But at the end of the day, I chose my own truth, and I have never looked back. For a few years, it was rough, but fortunately I was eventually able to make peace with my family and also remain true to myself, with a whole lot of support from my friends and chosen family. That’s how I was able to overcome: I found my community, and my first love. I found somewhere I truly felt HOME…. with the artists, musicians, hippies, freaks, misfits, and bliss junkies.
Another huge landmark for me was when I moved to Los Angeles when I was 21 years old. I had dropped out of college, and had series of failed jobs and relationships. I had arrived ready to give my all to my music, to try to “make it” as a singer. I was there to give my original music a real and honest shot for the first time, with a clean slate, in a new place, with all new friends, and an intention to make an impact. I answered an ad in the paper that synchronistically involved another singer I knew from the Bay area and whom I greatly admired. We formed a band called Animastik and began writing songs.
Looking back, this move was the turning point that got me started on the path to being not only a singer, but also a songwriter. To me, this is my proudest accomplishment: becoming a songwriter. The way I see it, I was born a great singer, but I had to work hard to become a good songwriter. The move to LA was the beginning of my professional songwriting career, and it was while living there that I finally started producing my designs. It was also where I recorded my first full length album, “Ripe”.
The third landmark has been the process of creating my second full-length album, “Real”. These songs speak so deeply to the truth of what I am doing here on this planet. It’s been a tough journey at times, so much work and so much more money, time, and energy than I thought it would be. But I learned how to collaborate on a much deeper level, and to share my story in a very personal, yet universal way through these songs.
The album features my first ever co-writes with my dear friend Matthew Human, and tells my love story I’ve been through in the past few years: letting go of someone I truly loved to create space for what I really wanted in a relationship. Through the process of writing these songs and going through deep heartbreak with the loss of my “soulmate”, I found my true King. And he has supported me through the entire process. It’s been truly profound…I was living the lessons I was writing about in my lyrics as they happened. This album isn’t just something I wrote; it’s something I LIVED. And I am so, SO proud to see it complete.
SYJ: What movements are you passionate about? Enlighten the reader on why these are important how one can be proactive about these issues. Give us specific websites and/or causes that people can get informed with.
Amae Love: I’ve got a thing for birthdays. I really want them to be celebrated properly. Your birthday is the holiday of YOU. It’s ONE day a year where you get to celebrate your life and others can celebrate the singularly unique expression that is YOU! My passion for birthdays led me to write a NEW birthday song: “The Amaezing Birthday Song”. The song started to make waves: people LOVED it. So I did a Kickstarter to make a music video for the song and to spread the birthday message. My friends and I created a music video for the song so it could be shared, learned and sung at birthdays worldwide. I have been at birthday parties from Oregon to San Diego, from Costa Rica to Bali, where this is the ONLY birthday song being sung. It’s an underground movement at this point! It’s a personal mission of mine to spread this song worldwide to create a true alternative birthday song: one that is powerful, joyful, authentic and FUN…because the old one sounds like a funeral dirge.
If we are going to enjoy our lives, and honor ourselves, We must CELEBRATE our lives, and It starts with at least honoring your birthday. As adults we often forget how to just….play. That’s what This Birthday Movement is about.
SYJ: How long have you been self employed?
Amae Love: Well if you count singing, most of my life – 27 years! I started to be paid as a vocalist at 11, singing in with two other girls in a harmony group that I was in for many years. We would make money singing at private events, the mall, Disneyland, and small concerts to name a few.
My mom was a singer, and I was singing before I could talk. I started out with natural talent and just kept improving. I was so fortunate to have supportive parents who always encouraged me in music, performing arts, theater, and all my hobbies. Without that, who knows where I would be!
As for clothing design, I have been at it for 22 years! I got the sewing machine going when I was 16, inspired by the culture of the ‘60s during the mid ‘90s. I began designing my own clothes. It wouldn’t be till much later, in my mid-to-late 20s, where I would begin having my designs produced, and clothing design would become my main source of income.
In fact, as far as work goes… I really haven’t had many employers in my life, and none since I was about 21 years old. It never worked out well—me having a boss. I think I was fired from most of my short-term jobs: retail, movie theater attendant, bead store, food vendor.
At 20, I started an underground raver pants company called Amae’s Phurries, Phuzzies & Phatties. I would make custom huge day-glo fur appliqué pants in my best friend’s living room, where I was living. At 22, I started doing hair, braids, and extensions for a few years. I always kept performing and making some money as a musician here and there, including a wonderful run of performing at my Dad’s seminars in my 20’s. Then I finally began designing and producing my own clothing line in 2004, and I have been doing it ever since.
SYJ: What has been your biggest “AH-HAH” moment about working on what you love?
Amae Love: This might seem silly, but I always felt anything I was doing besides music was a distraction from my true path of being a singer/songwriter….. That somehow I was not living my truth if I was doing something other than my heart’s greatest desire: to touch the world with music. Recently my big AH-HA has been that both of my careers (design and music) work together and complement each other.
Because I am also a designer, I am in a better place than many musicians are these days. I can play a free show and vend my designs and still make money. I can offer my designs as perks on a crowdfunding campaign (which I have done a couple times– funding a music video, and my new album.) I can save up money from my design business to invest in my music (which I had to do to complete my new album). I can trade people clothing when asking them to play at an event I am putting together. Now I can see that being a designer allows me to have a passive income stream from my online orders, even when I’m traveling, working on music, or sleeping. There are SO many advantages. In fact, I am convinced that I would be completely broke, jaded and might have given up altogether on music if I had not had my design business. Now, I feel SO blessed to be able to make a living with my creativity and self expression, and that I have multiple platforms to do so!
SYJ: What was the biggest mental obstacle (if any) along the way or in the beginning? Perhaps there has been a reccurring thought that creates limitation? How do you work with that?
Amae Love: Interestingly enough, one of my greatest obstacles has been trusting and believing in myself. For some reason, despite being a stage persona from a young age, I had always been honestly terrified of writing and sharing my OWN original lyrics and songs. I had been a professional singer for over a decade before my first original songs were made public!! (well, unless you count the cassette tape of pop songs my cousin and I made when we were teeny boppers—I don’t!!) I was truly SO SCARED! It took a lot of support and encouragement. I STILL work with this fear to this day, the first time I share a new idea is always nerve-wracking. My stance on fear now is not to try to overcome the fear, but to just do the things that scare me anyway, which in itself dissolves fear!
SYJ: Who were your biggest inspirations? Were there any quotes or books that helped you?
Musically, My inspirations are India.Arie, Stevie Wonder, Prince, and Michael Jackson. Each of these artists has so much to do with how my music and lyrics have evolved. I am endlessly inspired by these great artists. If i had to choose one I relate to the most, it’s India.Arie. Her lyrics are so incredible.
SYJ: What do you do for fun?
Amae Love: For fun…I DANCE!! Freestyle dance has been a deep love for two decades. I love LIVE music most of all, especially Funk, Blues, and Soul music. I love festivals, and my partner Tulku is a music festival producer (Enchanted Forest Gathering) and event producer. But when I go to festivals, I am usually running a booth, performing, and wearing all my hats! It’s fun, but it’s also my work. Often, it’s difficult to separate the two!
When I really want to purely just have FUN….I go to Phish shows. I’ve been to over 70 since I was 17 years old. It’s the only place that I still go to merely be a participant; not a vendor, artist, or performer. It’s where I can truly just be a dancer, and lose myself in the music. It’s a very special happy place for me.
No matter what you do, Being true to yourself. Living your dream is going to be a journey. It will be hard, you will doubt yourself, you will face obstacles, and you may feel like giving up.