AmPm is a masked production duo from Japan who made a major global impact with their March 2017 debut track, ‘Best Part of Us feat. Michael Kaneko’. The same year, they were the only Japanese artist to perform at Spotify On Stage, a festival in Indonesia hosted by Spotify.
We got the chance to speak with AmPm, one of Japan’s most in-demand music production exports, about their music, latest release, and goals.
‘On The Black and White feat. Doul (Dipha Barus Remix)’ is out now.Grab it here.
Your musical background is really important for me to mention to our readers. What let you guys to electronic music? Do you feel responsible for the legacy?
We both have different backgrounds.
Disco and House music were my first major influences, and I fell in love with DJs like Frankie Knuckles and Louie Vega. I bought their records and went to clubs every night.
Him on the other hand, listened to a lot of music, especially British music. Rather than being influenced by a specific genre or artist, I think he was greatly influenced by the British culture in general.
My first trip abroad was to England. It was just before the Iraq War started, and the streets of London were filled with tension, but from a cultural perspective, it was a great experience to be at a period of change.
Nonetheless, we have been influenced by many great artists, and I believe we have witnessed some cultural transformations. From this point of view, it is important for us to repeat the good things we have been influenced by. Also, I think it is important to be flexible and adapt to the times without clinging to the past.
How does your creative process start?
We are putting our emphasis on forming what we want to do now, asking ourselves whether or not it is the music that we both want to listen to now. We often work with several creators to produce music depending on the direction we want to take.
One of the reasons for the interview is your latest release, On The Black and White feat. Doul (Dipha Barus Remix). Tell us something more about the release. What was the idea behind it?
We are always wondering what kind of work we should be presenting.
What is happening in the world, the seasons, and the events that happened in our personal lives affect us and change what we think about all the time. The vocalist, Doul, was introduced to us by a fellow creator, and at a music event we performed at before the pandemic, she suddenly decided to sing at our show. (This is not the song).
That led to the idea of collaborating and writing a song together, which lead to the production of this piece. The lyrics were written by her herself, and as I mentioned earlier, she happened to write the lyrics about the worries and struggles that we always think about, and we felt as if we were pushed forward by our own music.
Tell us something about your collaboration with Dipha Barus who did the remix.
We got to know him when we performed together at the Spotify-sponsored SPOTIFY ON STAGE in Indonesia in 2017. After that, we continued to communicate through social media, but above all, his works have a distinct personality unlike other artists. I also respect him as an artist because the essence of his homeland, Indonesia, is firmly woven into his music.
We have remixed several artists’ songs in the past, but we had never had anyone remix our own songs before. When we were thinking about who to ask for our first remix, his name was the first that came to mind, and that is the reason why we started collaborating. I didn’t have any specific requests, but when I listened to the song after it was finished, I was very excited and glad that I asked him to do this and it turned out to be a great remix.
How would you describe your sound? Is that what the new release will bring us?
We ourselves are always exploring, so it is very difficult to express it in our own words.
We believe that the most recently released songs are the ones that include what we are thinking and what we sound like now. We will be constantly changing with each release. If you compare one song to another, it may sound strange, but if you listen to all of our songs, I think you will understand that although the sound changes, there is a sense of unity that cannot be put into words.
What’s your opinion on the current livestreaming trend among DJs?
They don’t have a place to perform, so I guess they have no choice. However, I still want to listen to music in front of big speakers. I think it’s the same for both DJs and listeners.
While it is easy to perform anytime and anywhere with livestreaming, there is no substitute for the actual experience of standing on a stage at concerts. I hope this situation will get better soon.
You have over 68 million streams on the growing platform, Spotify. How important is it for the producers now to keep up with trends and technology?
I think it’s important to never lose who you are.
In order to make the most of your individuality, use trends and technology if necessary. If it is not necessary, I don’t think you need to use it. However, I think it is always crucial to be curious and is very important to keep trying new things.
Regarding your marks and mysterious appearance, what was the inspiration and what was the goal?
For an artist, appearance is very important. In addition to the reputation of your music, your reputation may be greatly affected by your appearance.
Although things have improved in the music industry, nationality, gender, skin color, etc. have an impact on the reputation of music. Even in dance music, there have been many experiences where we have been denied the opportunity to perform on stage, or where our songs were not listened to and received poor reviews, simply because we were Asian. (Before we started as AmPm, we were working individually).
So, what do you think would happen if you wore a mask and released a song?
In no time at all, our songs were being listened by people all over the world.
That’s all there is to it.
We always keep our identities as Asians and Japanese, and believe in our music, so we want the world to listen to our music as well.
How would you describe the current situation on the global electronic scene?
The fact of having limited places to perform has had a huge impact.
I feel that dance music itself, regardless of genre, is becoming weaker and weaker.
In particular, I feel that sounds that give a sense of wide space have lessened. However, I think that DJs and producers all over the world, not just us, are hoping that this situation will get better, and when it does, I believe that a lot of powerful music will be created.
Do you believe an artist must be both DJ and a producer?
I don’t think they need to. However, I think that by DJing, they can convey their ideas and stories as a producer.
It’s difficult now, but it’s great to perform in front of a large audience.
You guys also scored the opening theme for an anime, how are you satisfied with the feedback?
It was a difficult project in the sense that we had to respect how the anime was depicted and the fans. However, we are very grateful that the song was listened to by many more people than we expected.
Are you planning any new music and projects soon?
We will be releasing many new songs. What we can do now is to release songs.
We will continue to release songs collaborating with vocalists and dance tracks such as the recently released Tokyo.