How Ama Lou's debut EP is blurring the lines between R&B and visual art
At Majestic Journal, our ‘fresh sounds’ feature aims to showcase not just the latest tracks from our favourite up-and-coming artists, but the paths taken to get there. In our latest offering, we focus on North London R&B singer-songwriter Ama Lou. With a little help from her sister, tearing up the rule book on what defines a ‘contemporary R&B artist’, we explore Ama’s unique crossover between sound and vision in her debut EP-short film ‘DDD’ (2018).
In modern music, it’s not unusual for an artist to entrust their development to an A&R team, their early projects (and image) often deviating from their initial vision; outside the writing artist's control. Going against this grain is 19 year-old singer-songwriter Ama Lou, who is turning heads with her debut EP and immersive 13 minute film Dawn, Day, Dusk (DDD).
DDD is Ama’s first foray as a director, a unique blend of electronic-trap infused R&B that flexes Ama’s potential as a visual storyteller and her maturity as an independent musician and lyricist. With her sister Mahalia John behind the lens, documenting Ama’s first steps onto the lowest rung of LA’s organised crime ladder, we unpick the imagery and 3 track-score behind DDD’s journey through dawn, day and dusk.
Ama Lou - DDD (Official Video)
Dawn - ‘Tried up’
‘Tried up’, DDD’s premier track, opens to morning birdsong, delicate piano chords and a pensive Ama on foot in the Californian desert-soon switching cowboy boots with her gold-grilled alter-ego. Against a bassy break beat and the neon pink lights of a motel, the track channels Lou’s classical music training and the trap beat-R&B influence of North London’s urban music scene. The parallelism between the lyrics and the ensuing visuals is also intelligent, as ‘Tried up’ paints a cat and mouse relationship with a former lover-foreshadowing a similar power differential as she and the film transition into the criminal underworld.
Day - ‘Wrong Lesson’
‘Wrong Lesson’ begins with a candle lit vigil to Madonna and Child, a heat-soaked California bedsit, racing heart, and ticking clock accompanying the track’s bassy guitar intro. The track itself plays homage to the petty games and finger-pointing fallout of a broken relationship: taking to a velvet tracksuit and vintage mustang to meet her ringleader at ‘Myke’s Café’. With a cameo from Che Pope, DDD’s producer and the former president of Kanye’s record label G.O.O.D MUSIC, ‘Wrong lessons’’ mix of 90s R&B-electro-synth guitar, nostalgic Californian backdrop, and eclectic wardrobe shine as the EP’s standout track and visuals.
Dusk - ‘Wire’
‘Wire’ is DDD’s curtain close, with Ama taking to her vintage wheels one last time in an escape to the barren desert. A reverberating church organ, jazz piano, sax, and distorted guitar solo serenade Ama’s ‘swag bag’ as it bursts into flames, the lyrics and visual exploring the realisation of mistakes and the need for a new life direction. Followed by a change in sound, a raw and consuming release that clashes with the Ama's self-assured tone and character in the opening scenes, DDD oozes a confidence and versatility that eclipses all expectations as a young (and independent) artist at the beginning of a career in music; a project cementing Ama Lou as one of the brightest and inspiring voices in UK R&B.