You may know her powerhouse vocals from tracks with Kon, The Juan Maclean and most recently, Horse Meat Disco. Now, Amy Douglas is about to break through on her own in a huge way. We had the chance to catch up with her and hear about her upcoming musical plans and her excitement about performing at this year’s Blisspop Disco Fest.
Tell us a bit about your musical journey. How did the you find the dance music world? Or how did the dance music world find you?
My musical journey begins as a geekazoid music freak 6 year old who wanted to be the lead vocalist of Led Zeppelin, (pissed that the gig was taken by this awesome dude Robert?) but also wanted to be something of a Carole King figure. I was completely (and still am completely) obsessed with rock and roll and all of it’s glory and artistry and, as such, anything and everything related were pivotal. The dance music world found me sort of in a roundabout way, as I definitely am from the world of leading hard rock bands, and also of just playing in lots of organic settings, jazz combos, funk bands, but first and foremost for me it’s all about rock and roll; the energy, the art form and being a singer-songwriter. I started to get interactions from people in dance music who’d heard me on rock recordings and also singing in a project called Koko Dozo which was more of a purist electronica project. The first person I worked with was Luca Venezia (Curses). I worked on a single for his then label Trouble and Bass and then I started to work with Juan MacLean on Peach Melba.
Who have been some of your favorite collaborators to date? Who would you love to work with in the future?
I have to say that I’ve been incredibly blessed and that ever since really getting into the game seriously, having had the opportunity to work with absolutely incredible people, all of whom inspire me, be it the aforementioned Mr. MacLean or Michael The Lion and his Philly Disco Spirit. Working with The Crooked Man has proven to be arguably one of the most vital and important collaborations and it’s bout to yield SO much goodness, I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. Working with Horse Meat Disco and Luke Solomon and the engine over at Defected/Glitterbox/Classic has been incredibly rich and rewarding. I love them like family and I’m so blessed for the incredible success of Let’s Go Dancing. I’m really excited for the other collaborations we’ve done, not to mention in particular, my relationship with Jim Stanton, we’ve got a verrry cool thing in the works with some mutual friends to keep your eyes out for. I love them all so much. Working with Joe Goddard is a dream come true (I see a question on him below so I’ll hold off on more gush and praise for that). Also, working on The Black Madonna’s LP has been absolutely incredible.
At present, I’m also starting to work on some songs with the incredible Roisin Murphy and talk about dreams coming true! That genius firecracker of a deity has inspired me beyond comparison, she is still one of the most vital and important artists in any realm today. Being able to speak to her about songs is….sometimes I think I’m hallucinating with joy. Justin Strauss is someone I love collaborating with and just even moments where we do nothing but talk shop it’s just incredible. However, there is no musical relationship, no collaborator more vital and important to me than my partner Tim Wagner of 33Hz. There is no one like him and I don’t work with anyone else the same way. Our vision is very singular and unique and he’s such an incredible musician and producer and songwriter. That relationship which yielded “Never Saw It Coming” and the cover of “Cities In Dust” for the Last Gas Station 10 year comp is going to unfold a full on disco rock juggernaut bomb!
I was incredibly excited to hear about Hard Feelings, your upcoming project with Joe Goddard of Hot Chip. Tell us how that collaboration came about and what we should look out for in your music.
This has been nothing short of divine miracles, one after the other. Never mind that I’ve loved Hot Chip and the music Joe makes on his own and for The 2 Bears, that genius!!!! I basically woke up one morning (blues riff) and there was a Tweet from Joe himself that said “Amy, can we make a thing?” That was it! I believe they behind the scenes were bringing our worlds together and mutual friends did exactly that, and next thing I knew, I was beginning to work with these absolutely INCREDIBLE dense, layered and dramatic tracks of his!
We began working remotely and before I knew it, we were already nearly 5 or 6 songs, DONE. We clicked so hard it was almost like…..scary. Scary awesome of course, but like WHOA. Telepathy. There is something about the way he produces that immediately resonates with me and “Hard Feelings” was Joe’s design. All the songs we’ve been working on, essentially are like divorce court anthems. Songs you’d sing in some operatic aria style, right before you walk out for the last time on someone, ruining lives, scorching the Earth. It’s like the mood of…..Kramer Vs. Kramer and Shoot The Moon and like every single horrible divorce era drama, but yet…somehow danceable! LOL. “Hard Feelings.” It was so apt, and when Joe landed on that, I was just like “oh that’s toooo perfect.” Recently I went over to LDN to perform at The Eagle, the Horse Meat Disco mothership and of course hook up and do sessions and work my butt off. I got to spend 2 days in house with Joe and it was like….it was heaven. I can’t wait for the world to hear this work!
What are you most excited about in terms of playing the Blisspop Disco Fest?
I don’t even know where to begin! Firstly, it’s my very first ever time playing a festival, just under my own name!!! Woot! So Maiden Voyage! I am also very psyched that of course The Black Madonna is headlining the evening I’m performing on, as she is my sister, my family, working on music with her has been spiritual, deep, and astral. Considering that she’s also completely taken the world at large by the balls, she serves as a constant source of inspiration to me and I would think to everyone, most of all the women of this industry who should look to her as the champion deity she is.
What does the word disco mean to you?
It is nearly impossible for me, a native New Yorker (forgive the Odyssey drop) to think about disco as anything but liberation music. The imagery, the lifestyle, even the music of what came, can never and should never outpace its intent. Honestly? Disco is as punk as punk gets, it’s the rebel soundtrack of the gay community, most notably Gay and Black. So even before it can be discussed in terms of its art, it has to be discussed in terms of its sociopolitical importance, a thing that is oft overlooked. This was music that was being played in safe spaces at a time where being free, living and loving free, often meant jail and death. I also love that disco finds a middle digit rebellion in being flagrantly sybaritic and sexual. It is hedonistic with no apology. Many men and transsexual women died so that we can all have Disco Festivals and enjoy the benefits of their struggle.
Disco MUSIC however for ME? It means only one thing and this would be true were we speaking about Country, Polka, or KPop. It’s about great songs. In this case, anthems, songs that inspire and provoke ACTION. This is another great thing about Disco, the songs are often INSTRUCTIONS. Heck, they downright boss you around sometimes! It’s for your own good, though.
What advice do you have for singers and artists who are looking to break into the dance music world?
Never lose your own voice. It’s imperative to be a part of an engine that works, no less serve an industry but never lose your own voice, and always make your own lane. I’m an alley cat rock and roll lead singer who sings on Disco Records and is about to share a stage with The Black Madonna. Nothing is impossible. Keep your head down and your eyes front and your ears only ever halfway open.
Amy Douglas will be performing alongside The Black Madonna, Josey Rebelle and Deep Sugar (Lisa Moody and Wayne Davis) at 9:30 Club on September 27 for this year’s Blisspop Disco Fest. Purchase your tickets at the link here.