Interview w/ Amanda Blank

Published on August 31st, 2010

We had the pleasure of talking to Philadelphia’s own Amanda Blank. During the interview, she discusses collaborating with everyone from Diplo to the Cool Kids to Lykke Li. She also shares her love for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and hanging out with her girls. Among her favorite artists? Neil Young, Matt & Kim, and you guessed it…Dolly Parton. She’s awesome, read the interview by clicking ‘more’ below.

Amanda: Hello?

Claire: Hey this is Claire from The New Montreal.

Amanda: Oh hey, what’s up?

Claire: Nothing, how’s it going?

Amanda: It’s going, I’m just in the car with two of my girlfriends.

Claire: Oh nice, are you guys in Philly?

Amanda: Nah, I’m in LA.

Claire: Cool…I’m actually in the Philly area right now, I grew up here.

Amanda: I was gonna say, the phone is 610, the area code, that’s so crazy.

Claire: (laughs) yeah.

Amanda: But you live in Montreal?

Claire: Yeah I go to school there.

Amanda: Ohh ok cool.

Claire: So yeah, we just have a couple of questions for you…

Amanda: Awesome.

Claire: Yeah so you just finished up with the tour, right? How was it?

Amanda: It was good! I’m so happy to be done ‘cause I’m on a bit of a break now, we’ve been on the road for months, and it’s starting to wear me down a little bit.

Claire: Understandably so.

Amanda: Yeah, it’s just a lot physically and it’s draining. So I’m here and I’m just recording and, like I said, hanging out with my friends and it’s nice and it’s such a change from the last year but I definitely needed it

Claire: That’s good. So I Love You is a great album.

Amanda: Ooh thank you! (laughs)

Claire: What made you decide to go from the stuff you did with Spank Rock and Sweatheart earlier in your career to creating your own LP?

Amanda: Um, I think it’s just kind of like anything, you do one thing for too long and you start to get bored with it or over it, you know? I think it’s just you tend to do it differently. There wasn’t any specific moment, there was no one defining moment that was like, alright I’m gonna do it like this, it just kind of happened over the course of those two years. So much of my life had changed when I was making the record, and I was just writing about whatever was happening really. And before, you know, when I was writing all that stuff, it’s like that’s what was going on; we were always partying and just trying to make it and doing shows and wildin’ out and I had kind of calmed down a little bit and sort of settled down a little bit, not too much but a little bit, and so I think that’s kind of how that happened.

Claire: Yeah I don’t know, I saw you open for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on their last tour in Philly…

Amanda: Oh wow!

Claire: …and yeah, if you’ve calmed down a little bit I can’t imagine what it was like before, because that was basically the most high energy performance ever.

Amanda: (laughs) that was actually really, really fun. Being in Canada with them, ‘cause that was right when my album came out, so they had a little party for me and it was pretty much just me Karen, Nick, Brian and my DJs and a couple of our friends and we just went out and partied and it was so fun. And it’s crazy, ‘cause I don’t really do that much anymore and we’re all, you know, joking around and old and boring now, but that was actually really fun. Oh, that’s cool that you saw that show!

Claire: Yeah it was great. So on “Leaving You Behind”, you sing with Lykke Li. I’m really curious as to how it was working with her ‘cause she seems like she’d be super chill.

Amanda: She is. Her personality is super, super laid back. She’s really great, she’s such a sweetheart, she’s just such a nice person and so sweet and totally adorable. So it was fun, it was just kind of a really chill day, we had all been out the night before and were just kind of hanging out. It just kind of happened, it really wasn’t planned, we just decided to do the song in that moment…

Claire: Really?

Amanda: Do you think you could hold on for just 2 seconds, I just want to say goodbye to my girlfriends ‘cause they’re dropping me off.

Claire: No problem!

Amanda: Hello? Hey, sorry about that I was just hanging out with my girlfriends so I wanted to say goodbye.

Claire: Yeah no problem at all.

Amanda: So yeah, it was just like, she’s great ‘cause she’s really close friends with a close friend of mine who is that singer Mapei, they’re both from Sweden, from Stockholm, and so it was cool ‘cause it was just the three of us having tons of girl talk and hanging out and then I had done that song and we just decided to do it together. It was kind of like, “hey sing on this, let’s do this together.” So it’s cool, she’s so easy to hang with and work with and all that jazz.

Claire: That’s great. That’s really cool that you guys just decided to do it together.

Amanda: Yeah it was like totally unplanned, just like “fuck it, let’s do this” you know, we had a bunch of girl talk, talking about boys all day (laughs) and then I have this song that’s all like, my heart’s breaking type of song, so it seemed very appropriate for the moment.

Claire: Yeah that is perfect. So, you seem to know so many other amazing people in the music world; there’s Diplo, Santigold, Spank Rock, the Cool Kids…how did you come to have such an awesome group of collaborators?

Amanda: You know what, I think it really is just based off of my friendship with them. I’ve known some of them since I was a kid. You know what I think it is, is that creative people tend to gravitate towards each other, and so we were all just friends trying to make it and then slowly but surely everybody started to go do their own thing and get out there and people started to pay attention. And you meet people along the way, and some people you really like and some people you don’t really like; but I really like having friends that make music and make art, there’s a lot of common ground there. It’s fun, they understand what you’re going through so I think that’s why people kind of gravitate towards each other in that way. So I think it just kind of happened; I feel like everything in my life just kind of happens (laughs) and I don’t really know how to explain it.

Claire: Yeah, I definitely understand in a way though. A lot of people have remixed your songs, do you like the remixes?

Amanda: Yeah some of them I really, really love. Elie Escobar, I really love this remix he did of “Make It Take It.” And actually, one of my favorites is the Yuksek remix of “Shame on Me.” It’s so cute, I love it, it’s just such a cutie pie song and he’s so dope. I mean he’s really great; he’s so talented so it’s cool. Some of them [the remixes] I don’t always hear, ’cause you know, your music is out there on the internet, like the acapellas, I mean anybody can remix them, so sometimes it’s a little overwhelming ’cause you’re trying to weed through them, but it’s cool. I just like to hear what people do with them just ‘cause I’m like, ‘oh man, how does someone else hear this you know?’ It’s interesting to hear what someone elses creative brain would tell them to do with that song. What Diplo might do is gonna be completely different than say Yuksek, so it’s neat, it’s really cool to hear.

Claire: Yeah that’s great. It’s cool when you hear other peoples specialties in the remixes too, like Rusko did a bunch of dubstep on the “Might Like You Better” remix.

Amanda: Yeah!

Claire: Yeah that’s one of my favorites.

Amanda: Yeah it’s so cool, it’s so good; I probably would never take it upon myself to do a dubstep song without the help of somebody that knows a lot about it and could make some cool stuff. You know, that song is just like a fun little pop song, and for him to flip it like that I think it’s really, really cool.

Claire: Yeah definitely. I have to admit, I was pretty nervous about this interview; you’re like the ultimate badass.

Amanda: Oh no way, no way!

Claire: Ever since I saw you with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I was just like damn!

Amanda: Aw thank you. It’s hard, it’s like how you feel…I was so nervous to go on tour with them. Like, ‘oh my god it’s Karen O!’ She’s so amazing, she really is, not only is she probably the most brilliant performer of our generation, but she is such an awesome chick, you know like who she is as a person and her personality. She’s just really, really sweet and awesome and wonderful and lovely; so they totally made me feel at home and it was really fun and I just loved it there. But I was so, so nervous, I was like ‘oh my god, I can’t do this!’ You know I was so nervous, but she was actually my little champion — she’d stand on the side and watch the show and cheer me on, she’s so nice and so fun. It really made me feel so good that the band was just so fun and really so supportive and just always there for me, you know? ‘Cause you know, they’ve been doing this for so long, so they’re like “shit girl we know, we know what it’s like to be the opening act, and we know what it’s like when you’re just starting out or when your album first comes out,” you know, so it’s cool, they’re really great. I can’t say enough wonderful things about all three of them.

Claire: Aw that’s terrific, it’s good you got to tour with someone you really got along with.

Amanda: Yeah, I mean you know what? I have probably been the luckiest girl this year as far as touring goes, because it’s hard to get a good tour, everyone’s kind of vying for a good opening slot if you’re just starting out. I started out with Santi  [Santigold] and then the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and then Matt & Kim, and then Peaches, like forget it! That was amazing. That was like the best experience ever, you know?

Claire: Yeah she’s pretty badass as well.

Amanda: She is so fucking cool. I felt like I was just touring with all of these personal heroes, you know? Like Karen O and Peaches and Santi. She’s one of my best friends, she helped me out so much on that tour. And then Matt & Kim are just probably the most sweet, loving, fun, wonderful people. Touring with them, their crew was like the nicest crew I’ve ever met. Everybody hung out every night and it was just all hugs and holding hands and caring and sharing and just so cute and sweet. It was like, I was so lucky, so lucky. And kind of, I wonder what this year’s gonna be like ‘cause I’ve never toured with anybody that I didn’t get along with or toured with anybody that it was weird with; everybody’s been so great so I’ve been spoiled, I feel like I’ve been spoiled rotten and now I’m like, ‘okay gotta go back to normal now.’

Claire: So you said you’ve been doing some new recording, what’s it sounding like so far?

Amanda: Well actually, I start tomorrow, so it doesn’t sound like anything yet (laughs). But I’m excited ‘cause I’m going in with Dave Sitek, who I’ve worked with before. The songs that we made, I didn’t put on the album just because I felt like I really love them and I think I want to save them for my second album. So probably just sort of an extension of what we were doing then, but I’m curious to know, I don’t know, I’m going tomorrow. I told him I was nervous ‘cause I haven’t written a song in a while so it should be interesting

Claire: So can we expect more anthems like “Something Bigger Something Better”, or more personal stuff like “A Love Song”?

Amanda: I would like to think that whatever I do next for this record will sort of just be the next step in what I did on the first album, but more refined. I mean it really depends, you know. I’m really just starting out now so I’m just gonna figure it out as I go along. But yeah I’m sure, Dave Sitek was like “Come on girl, let’s do it, let’s go.” So alright, we’re gonna write some jams boo, we’re gonna do it up!

Claire: Aw well I’m excited. Ok so I have a couple less serious questions for you too, just before we wrap up. That cool?

Amanda: Yes of course.

Claire: If you could collaborate with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?

Amanda: Oh wow, okay I’ve got a little list of people, my dream list. As far as like a rapper, probably RJD2.

Claire: Oh yeah?

Amanda: I think he’s like my hero.

Claire: Yeah we’re going to see him this month.

Amanda: Oh he’s so good, oh my god. He’s just the best, so I’ve always really wanted to make a song with him. I would love to do a song with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I mean they’re amazing, all three of them are so great. Who else…I’ve always had this dream that I would do a song with Dolly Parton.

Claire: Oh man. That would be amazing.

Amanda: I love Dolly, like my dad, she’s his favorite, my father loves Dolly Parton. She’s just the best songwriter ever. So, I always think one day, I’ll do a country song with Dolly Parton. So those are my three right now.

Claire: Yeah that’s a good list, that’s definitely a good list. I would love to hear any of those songs.

Amanda: That would be so fun!

Claire: Another question, what’s your ringtone right now?

Amanda: Um, I don’t know why this is my ringtone, but it’s this rapper Little-T and Bun B and UGK. But my other ringtone is my nephew saying “I love you Amanda,” ’cause he’s only two and a half and he’s so cute, and all of his “L”s are like “W”s, so it’s like “I wuv you Amanda,” and it goes over and over again so it’s pretty adorable. But I’m always with him, so when I leave town I make that my ringtone.

Claire: Aww that’s cute. What was the last awesome concert that you saw?

Amanda: Probably the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in Australia, that was pretty sick. But you know, the last thing I saw that completely blew my mind, like I don’t even know what I was doing: I saw Neil Young, in England, and it was unreal. It was amazing, it was out at Glastonbury, which is like a big festival. Just me and one of my DJs, Chris Roxwell, we sat out in the lawn and it was nighttime and he just, he was so good, and the show was just…it was incredible. And we just totally just hippied out and listened to Neil Young all night, it was amazing.

Claire: That’s great, that sounds awesome. Last question, what are your three favorite albums at the moment?

Amanda: My three favorite albums. What have I been listening to a lot lately? This EP that Elie Escobar did, I keep listening to that over and over again, it’s called Love Thing and it’s an EP, but I’ve been listening to it like over and over again. What else, what did I just get? The new Shaday, I’ve been listening to that like crazy. I love her, she’s like a goddess or something; she’s just so wonderful, beautiful, and brilliant…

Claire: Oh ok, alright, yeah I’ve heard of her.

Amanda: Yeah she’s amazing, ohhh girlll you need to listen to everything she’s ever done, she’s incredible. She hasn’t put out an album in ten years, she just put one out right around Valentine’s Day, and it’s beautiful. But all of her first couple of albums, all of her albums are amazing; you should listen to her first two that will blow your mind. So, I’ve been listening to a lot of Shaday, and what else have I been listening to? See I don’t even know. I feel like my music taste is so bizarre. I really like this album that came out last year, it’s…why am I blanking on his name?! He’s from Philadelphia, he’s like a singer -songwriter…he’s from Philly, he’s like super singer-songwriter rock-y, this is crazy, he’s from my city and I totally go through his album. Oh Kurt Vile! Yeah his album was so good, I really was so blown away. I love that album. So I’ve been listening to that a lot as well. It’s always on in the background.

Claire: Yeah, it’s great. Well thanks so much for taking the time out to talk to us.

Amanda: Oh yeah no problem, it was fun, hopefully I’ll see you at a show sometime!

Claire: Oh yeah for sure, I’ll be there.

Amanda: Awesome, if we make it back to Montreal, if not maybe we’ll do something in Philly soon.

Claire: That’d be great.

Amanda: Yeah well it was nice talking to you.

Claire: Alright you too, have a good night!

Amanda: You too! Bye honey.

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