Promising Singer-Songwriter and Linda Perry Protege, WILLA AMAI Discusses Signing With The 4 Non Blondes Singer and Releasing Her Latest Track!
At just 16-years-old, singer-songwriter Willa Amai works with the iconic lead singer of 4 Non Blondes, and prolific songwriter (Pink!, Christina Aguilera, Adele, Gwen Stefani, etc) Linda Perry. Willa was signed by Linda at age 12 and now at the age of 16, she recently released her new single “UNORGANIZED CRIME” on October 26th.
Connect With Willa Amai Online Here: WEBSITE
Check out the video here:
Here are just a few of the TV spots that Willa has had recently:
Performance on Ellen– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvXnfeH0ci0
Duet with Dolly Parton– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AV-qPbZ6QQ
Performance with Brandi Carlise– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGJD0pL2Sr8
Performance on Today Show– https://www.today.com/video/watch-willa-amai-sing-trampled-flowers-live-on-today-59590725778
“What’s Up” Cover- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgUrM-vYg5w
Learn more about Willa Amai in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So how are you keeping busy and musical these days during the pandemic? How are you staying connected to your fans? Are you finding that social media is even more useful now?
Social media has definitely been an incredibly important tool for communication throughout quarantine. In all honesty, I’ve underestimated it in the past. Having grown up in a time where social media is commonplace and often the main mode of communication, I had pulled away from it, feeling uncomfortable with the pervasiveness it had in the everyday life of everyone my age. With that said, I think quarantine has changed social media drastically. It’s felt more real because it’s had to, and it’s providing me with a way to talk to people which is so important now. As far as staying musical, I’ve been lucky enough to not have trouble. One of the things I love about music is that you can take it anywhere and nowhere. I’m so grateful that I can maintain my outlet even in this new normal. It has been integral in my mental health maintenance, and I’ve been taking this opportunity to explore new styles and sides of my songwriting I hadn’t previously.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a musician? What do you think motivates you day in and day out? How has that drive changed since you first started writing songs?
Music has always been central to who I am. From the moment I was born, music has intrigued me and I’ve always known I’d write and enjoy music forever. Always. Apart from being a career, music keeps me sane, so I couldn’t stop if I tried. Music feels very much like another limb to me; it’s like an appendage that performs this incredibly important function and to stop would be like amputating it. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of people in my life who believe in me, and it’s that support that motivates me in the difficult patches. My network of family and friends is everything to me. As far as changes in my work ethic, I think the biggest changes have come from watching Linda Perry, my mentor, producer, and manager, my mom, who sacrifices so much of her time and energy for me, and my sister, Harper, who is the kindest and most generous soul this world has ever seen. They’re all truly the most incredible women, and having them as examples has shaped me into who I am.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the kind of music that you make? If not, why is that?
Growing up in L.A. has definitely influenced my music; having access to this melting pot of music has shown me the beauty in melding different styles and time periods of music. I try as much as I can to take pieces from all over the musical spectrum because I think that’s how the most revolutionary music is made.
Growing up, how important has music been in your life? Has your family and friends always supported you to follow music?
As a little kid, neither of my parents could stand the music young kids normally listen to, so I listened to their favorite artists and songs and they’re what have become nostalgic to me. I listened to people like Fleetwood Mac, Amy Winehouse, Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple, Queen, and tons of other icons. I’ve been so incredibly lucky to have had such a support system of friends and family behind me from the day I started. I know there are a ton of talented people who aren’t able to pursue music because they aren’t lucky enough to have the consistent level of support I have had and continue to have, and I try my best every day to be grateful for it. It truly takes a village to break an artist into this business, so to everyone who has lent a hand thus far, thank you. Thank you.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? Is there anything you wish you could go back and tell your younger self about this industry?
In all honesty, the biggest challenge I’ve faced in my journey in this business thus far has been me. I’m constantly dissatisfied with everything I do; from my work ethic to the quality of my songs, I’m always able to see what I couldn’t do instead of what I could. To an extent I’m grateful for my consistent determination to improve myself, but I think sometimes it’s unhealthy for me to feel unable to be content with my accomplishments. I’m trying every day to acknowledge and appreciate myself more, and if I could talk to my younger self I’d remind her that she’s enough. I’d remind her she can be proud of herself, and that she should be.
What was it like signing with 4 Non Blondes, Linda Perry? How did you first meet her? What do you think has been the biggest lesson about music that you have learned from her?
I met Linda Perry through a mutual friend, and our meeting wasn’t supposed to be anything more than an information and advice session. All I (and Linda, for that matter) thought our meeting would amount to was a pat on the back, a high five, and a montra to take home with me. After playing her 1/3rd of a song, though, she sat very quietly for a few minutes. Linda looked up at me and told me to come back to her in 2 months with 5 songs. I called her in 2 months, to the day, with 6. Since then we’ve been working together; Linda has been mentoring me, producing my music, and managing my career. On top of all the incredible opportunities Linda has given me as well as all of the insight into the business, I honestly think the biggest lesson Linda has taught me isn’t really about music at all. It’s about people. Linda has shown me how people respond to emotion. Nothing more, nothing less. Before working with Linda I felt fear around writing music; I was afraid opening up in that way would put myself in danger of getting hurt. Linda has shown me, though, that the best way to feel fulfilled in the music industry is to completely open yourself up to the listener and watch them find solace in your song.
I’m curious to know what it has been like for you being featured on so many TV shows?
I’ve been so lucky to have been given all the opportunities I have been to appear on so many TV shows. Admittedly, I never thought I’d ever end up on TV. Because my self-esteem growing up was so low, I never imagined my face on a television screen would ever appeal to anyone. But, as my number of appearances began to grow, I learned something about TV interviews: they’re not that different from music. The best thing you can do in music is to be completely emotionally candid, and it’s the same for an interview. Once I truly internalized the importance of openness, the interviews were easy.
Let’s talk about your new song “Organized Crime.” What was the inspiration for it? How would you say that it compares to your previous songs?
“Unorganized Crime” is different from any of my other songs in the way I wrote it; the song is an imagination of what I would feel like if I had grown up to be who I thought I’d be when I was younger. As a kid, I believed I had a rebellious spirit inside of me and that one day I’d free myself from the bonds of the social norms and become an example for every other defiant soul out there. The truth is, though, I’m square. I like to learn, I like to please people, and I feel most comfortable in the structure of those same social norms I used to think I’d one day disregard. As I came to acknowledge this fact, I decided to write “Unorganized Crime” in memoriam of that idea of myself. At first it seems as though it’d be difficult and even counterproductive to write from a prospective that’s so opposite of my own, but it ended up being easy. All I did was imagine everything that scares me excited me instead, and then explained how it felt.
Tell us about what was behind the music video for “Organized Crime”?
The music video for “Unorganized Crime” perfectly encapsulates the innocence of the version of me that the song is for. The song is in remembrance of an idea of myself that I had as a young kid, and I think the beautiful simplicity of the video is a visual representation of that girl. The incredibly talented Amanda Demme was the creative mind behind the video, and I couldn’t have asked for a better product.
Do you have plans to release more new music soon or a full album this year?
I’d like to release music as much as I can. I have a full album that’s waiting to be released, and as of now that will be coming out in early 2021. As for music on this side of the year, a song I wrote for Christmas called “December” will be releasing on November 30th (ironically), and I’d definitely recommend giving it a listen. I’m elated to be able to release my music and to have my full album on the way. I’ve had such a diverse and eclectic combination of opportunities thus far in my career, and they’ve been nothing short of amazing, but I think the oddness of my repertoire so far means that my true style as a songwriter hasn’t really been revealed. This album will really define my image in the music industry, and I’m so excited to share it with the world.
What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future? Who has consistently been inspiring you and the music that you make?
There are so many amazing musicians I’d love to work with, but if I had to pick one I’d pick Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood Mac holds emotional importance to me in so many ways; firstly, their music connects me to my mom which gives me an unmatched feeling of nostalgia; secondly, the first birthday I had with Linda Perry (turning 13) she gave me their album Rumours as a vinyl record and I’ll cherish that memory and those songs forever; thirdly, I think their songs are nothing short of phenomenal and to even just talk to them about their songwriting process would be a dream come true.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I hope people see themselves reflected in my music. Having an anxiety disorder myself, I understand the feeling of isolation all too well, and as I’ve been able to climb out of that hole I can only hope my music can lend that hand to help someone else out of it, too. I think the best works of music show people themselves. True art of any form is like a mirror; no matter the specificity, if it’s real, people will see their own stories in it. At the end of the day, my biggest goal is for people to feel less alone after hearing my music.