The first thing I tend to notice about music are the lyrics. That is why genre doesn’t matter to me. Secondly is the vocals. Maybe it was years of watching reality competition show auditions, but I felt like I learned early on how to hear when someone had “it.” With that, as soon as I pressed play on Amy Montgomery, I was hooked by both the lyrical content and the powerhouse set of pipes that delivered them. Does she have “it?” Yes, a million times yes. We opened up our conversation with just that and then got into her days busking, as well as her debut EP, ‘Intangible,’ out November 20, 2020!
Kendra: You have one of the most powerful voices I’ve come across this year. When did you discover that you couldn’t just carry a tune, but could haul a truckload with those pipes?
Amy Montgomery: I don’t think there was a definitive moment. It’s a continuous journey of discovering different ways to use my voice. I started singing on stage when I was eight-years-old, and as you can imagine, I definitely couldn’t haul a truckload with my pipes then…ha! I suppose around the time when I started busking at age 15-16, I had no choice but to belt it out, perhaps around this time was when I realised I could project louder than I thought. But I think it’s really been what other people have said that has encouraged my belief in myself and my voice. I wish I didn’t need validation from others to feel like my ability is worthy, but sometimes that’s the case!
Kendra: Busking is in many ways a rite of passage for many singer-songwriters. What is an unexpected lesson you learned while playing out amongst the people?
Amy Montgomery: There were many unexpected lessons learned from busking. I met lots of different people from all over the world, everyone with a different story. But the one thing that connected all of them was their attraction to music, and how it made them feel. I think this simple realisation taught me never to judge somebody and to acknowledge that everybody needs healing…whether they have a million pounds or whether they have none. There are lessons in every story, in every sentence, and in every new person you meet. All you have to do is listen carefully with an open heart. When you make yourself approachable, magical things can happen!
Kendra: Let’s talk about ‘Intangible,’ your debut EP that drops November 20th. You’ve noted that there is a lot of pain on this record, but rather pain you’ve learned to let go. Would you say music has always acted like a form of therapy for you?
Amy Montgomery: I think so yes, but maybe not always did I realise that it was. When I started to put all of myself into my performance, to surrender to it, to be right there in the moment, I then started to realise the therapeutic and cathartic effects of playing music. It’s hard to be totally present on stage all the time, but when I am, that’s when the deepest therapy happens. The same goes for everyday life!
Kendra: Watching the video for “Jupiter 4” I was like, wait a minute…because you play every role, rather – every instrument on top of singing. Did learning various instruments come naturally for you? I mean some have that instinct and some don’t. I’m in that group!
Amy Montgomery: My first instrument was the guitar. I was so used to hearing and seeing my dad play it in the house as a kid, maybe that’s why it came naturally to me. Next was piano, and I only started playing it in 2017 because the house I moved into had one…same goes for drums! When the instrument is there, I give it a go! But honestly, I wouldn’t say that I have ‘learned’ how to play bass, drums, or piano. I just like to mess around on them! Every instrument just allows me to explore my voice and songwriting in a different way. I would say my voice is actually the only instrument that I truly play!
Kendra: What was it about hearing Sharon Van Etten’s “Jupiter 4” that inspired you to do your own rendition?
Amy Montgomery: After discovering Sharon Van Etten on the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury, I developed a connection with her whole album ‘Remind Me Tomorrow.’ But with “Jupiter 4” I admired the fact that it’s a love song but it’s so haunting. I always love juxtaposition within music!
Kendra: It’s been said that there are some ‘90s influences in your music and I have to admit, “Jupiter 4” took me to a movie from that era. I pictured the climactic part of a drama, slow-motion running, rain, the works. Do you ever imagine cinematic scenarios when crafting new music?
Amy Montgomery: YES! I am such a visual songwriter. I usually have a whole video idea down before even finishing the song that I’m writing ha!
Kendra: With all that has transpired this year, how do you feel 2020 has shaped your creativity and drive moving forward?
Amy Montgomery: There are so many different elements and roles involved in being an artist, that sometimes you forget to exercise some of them. I feel like 2020 has thrown those forgotten elements in my face… In a nice way! I’ve really enjoyed putting my energy into releases and music videos this year, and all the other nitty-gritty parts of music that happen behind the scenes. 2019 was incredibly busy for me on the live front, so it’s been nice to take a temporary breather from it. I really can’t wait to get back out and play again though. I think the deprivation from live gigs only adds to my enthusiasm to get back out there again!
Kendra: Usually, this is where I ask people what they have planned in the coming months but with the world in a strange place right now, plans aren’t as concrete as they typically are. You can go ahead and let us know what you have tentatively planned but can you also share a song that never fails to get you through when the world around you feels like a mess?
Amy Montgomery: Well, the ‘Intangible EP’ comes out on Nov 20th as you know. This is my first physical release, so I’m looking forward to selling some hard copies! Along with this, I also have some cool merchandise that you can purchase too! Some festivals have been rescheduled to 2021 such as Black Deer Festival in Kent. If that goes ahead, that will be a highlight of my career so far! Because I’ll be playing the same stage as Robert Plant…how immense! Apart from these things, I’ll continue writing and recording. 2021 will bring more releases for you to enjoy!
There are so many songs that never fail to get me through! I’ll give you a few if it isn’t cheating!
“Morning Sun” – Melody Gardot.
“Under The Weather” – KT Tunstall
“Right Through You” – Alanis Morissette
“Feelin’ The Same Way” – Norah Jones