Anti-diva Amy Douglas is a delightful, brash New Yorker whose versatile vocals are popping up all around the club world and we were fortunate enough to snag a cheeky interview with this wild woman.
You might know Amy from her pitch-perfect DFA Records release “Never Saw It Coming,” which features her incredible vocal range in a thumping disco package.
For our Toronto readers, Amy will be performing at the Hotnuts Halloqween Streamed Buns party this Saturday, and we encourage you to turn a look and let Amy guide your swirl.
Read the full Q&A after the jump!
Lets start off with a broad question, to introduce you to our readers. Who are you, and where are you from?
Okay, let’s see… My name’s Amy Douglas, it has only ever been Amy Douglas. Had I thought more about it I would have picked something more like Esmeralda St. Scott, but unfortunately that was not to be. I am a singer-songwriter, vocalist and pianist, rock and roll singer, and a lascivious slut and whiskey lovin’ artist who’s here to rock the children.
Can you tell us a bit about your music?
I don’t care about decade, I don’t care about color, I don’t care about flavor. I care about one thing and one thing only: a great song. So if an artist that I’m working with does want that ’90s commercialized house vibe, like my work with Low Steppa, or when I work with the Defective camp it’s more of a retro disco vibe… more a Neo ’70s or I guess you could say late ’90s-cum-new ’70s.
Where do your musical influences come from?
I come from New York. Born-and-bred New Yorker, and to me there’s a lot of heritage as an artist and as a musician that comes with that. So I want to bring that hard. And, for me, I’m sort of like a dirt bag… Dirtbag slutty rock chick. I want to openly — and I’ve said this to a million people who’ve interviewed me over the past year — I openly want to be Carole King behind the scenes and Pat Benatar in front of them. I want to be the Pat Benatar of dance music. I love having the ability, that I feel very blessed to have, a voice that allows me to do everything.
I can lean gospel, I can lean jazzy, I can do anything with my voice, but the truth of the matter is: what I really love to do is haul off and scream. I love singing hard rock music. Robert Plant, Freddy Mercury, Elton John banging on pianos, every male rock star… They tend to be my biggest influences other than jazz musicians.
We are big fans of “Let’s Go Dancing,” the song you did with Horse Meat Disco. How did that collaboration come about?
I had been in a project with Juan Maclean called Peach Melba, which we still make recordings for now and then, but we got together for Peach Melba and Luke Solomon who runs that label and is the backbone of Defected Records said, “You know I just really need to have this relationship with you where we just work. We write songs and we just work.”
If there’s one thing that turns me on, it’s a man who comes to me and says, “Baby, I just want to work.” He put me in touch with Horse Meat and that was probably the most important reach-out I’ve ever had. Not only because I’m so proud of the work we’ve done and “Let’s Go Dancing” has become this big anthem.
By the way, I wanna say this on this interview, that that anthem has so much more reach then the audience you’d think typical. I’ve gotten reach-out on Instagram (@amydouglassings) through really young kids down South who have heard it in strip clubs. I’ve gotten, “Oh, I heard it at a wedding!” That song is getting traction and that makes me feel like I did my job.
So what are you working on now? Anything coming up in the future you’re allowed to tell us about?
I’m part of a project now with Joe Goddard of Hot Chip that’s called Hard Feelings and that is super huge and important to me. When y’all hear what this music sounds like, you’re gonna flip. Joe is one of the most amazing gifted wizard humans. He is kind and wonderful and heartfelt. And we have already written five or six songs long distance.
When I was in London, we got together in the studio and wrote right then and there. There is something in the way he produces music that really speaks to me because I was able to get into a room with him for the last bit of my London trip and just get on the keyboard and really be in a room with him… I never wanted to leave.
I’m starting to write songs for Róisín Murphy. That’s another biggie. I have a very deep and meaningful relationship with Ms. Murphy. Whenever I hear myself say that, I get a lump in my throat because I can’t even really believe that I’m saying it. She and I are linked, and that’s forever, and yeah, so I’m starting to write songs for her upcoming ventures, some of which will be duets, some of which will be solo stuff. We’re not even sure what it is.
Basically, my task was to go home and fuckin’ write songs… mother fucker. If she had told me to get on all fours and bark like a dog for 37 hours, I probably would have been grateful to do so.
I also did some tracks with Man Power, he’s fantastic. I’ve been working with The Crooked Man. He remixed “Never Saw It Coming” and you’re going to be hearing a lot more work from us. Oh! And The Black Madonna. I love working with The Black Madonna.
So is dance music where you saw yourself going? Or was that something that kinda fell into your lap?
I don’t come into dance music from dance music. I come into dance music as an aardvark/ strange creature from dance culture. I’m a rock and roll singer. I always was the lead vocalist of bands with very gnarly dudes who smelt terrible and, you know, touring in a van. The kind of bands where we’d be in the Finger Lakes performing at places where there would be a gun rack behind the bar… Lots of biker bars.
That’s where I come from. Every time I see people refer to me as a “diva,” I lay down and die. I think it’s a great compliment in so much as it can pertain to these opulent women with the sort of fabulous visual stimulations and layers and layers of fabulosity, but the truth of the matter is I’m so not a diva. I’m almost anti-diva. It’s so funny: everything I do, I intend to be anti-the thing that it ultimately winds up being, like an accidental crazy thing.
— Q&A by Justin Gray (@fisherpricequeen)