We've been Amber Ais fans for a while and for a good reason. Her ultra-personal songs feel so relatable. She never shies away from being vulnerable and her sweet voice is the perfect delivery for those hard-hitting lyrics. We caught up with her to talk about her new song "Don't Make It Hard" and how she's grown as an artist.
Tell me about your new song "Don't Make It Hard."
Amber Ais: It's a very honest song, and those are usually the scariest ones to put out. I had this on-again-off-again relationship with someone that treated me like a convenience, but I would always give him the benefit of the doubt. What really did it, though, was that we actually ended up dating and abruptly broke up. I thought he actually might've changed, but after seeing his behavior for that long, I felt so dumb for not seeing it coming. But I really did and do believe that people can change, and I see the best in them. However, I'd never experienced rage like that in my life. I was holding these two feelings of like, "I get that things don't always work out," but also, "I really want you to get hit by a bus."
It ended up taking me about a year to write it, though. I wrote the first and second verses after one of the times he ghosted me, which should have told me everything I needed to know! But I didn't write the bridge until a year later when I wrote him this very strongly worded letter. Ugh, I wish I still had it, but I ripped it up and never sent it! It was full of expletives and swear words I didn't know existed. It was so cathartic. But, I went back to the voice note and just poured out everything I felt and that's how the bridge was born. I say a lot of things that I don't necessarily think are true today but, at the time, felt so real. I say things like "I hate you" and "I resent you and regret you," but that was never true; I was just so hurt. I later gave it to my friends AB Eastwood and Joel Setien, and they perfectly produced this bubbling soft rage that I wanted the song to emulate.
You described yourself as a "wholesome sad girl." What does that mean to you?
Amber Ais: I think this song kind of ties into that, honestly. The last line of the song is, "I know my words feel like bleeding, it's just cause I'm hurt I don't mean it." I think being a wholesome, sad girl is always offering an olive branch to those who hurt me. I really don't hate any of my exes. I might be honest about them, but I don't hate them. So, if any of them mistake my honesty for hatred, that means they're lying to themselves. I also think as a black woman in general, I'm not allowed to be soft in society, and I'm not allowed to necessarily be vulnerable without also being strong. I cannot just exist as an artist; I also have to be oversexualized and explicit in my lyrics, but that's not really who I am. I have zero problem with that, but the expectations and the boxes black women are in aren't really inclusive.
Is it hard being a pop girly in Nashville? Do you feel like you struggle to find a scene?
Amber Ais: It is a little bit hard. I'm not going to lie. It's not even like there isn't a scene, either. I just think I'm black. LOL, like that's always going to be a factor in all of this, so I always have to try twice as hard. I'm a big dreamer and an even bigger overachiever, so I don't necessarily mind being a hard worker. I like a challenge. But it's mostly about having the right connections and the right shows. I think my focus right now is giving people a physical experience along with the music, so I'm trying to perform in different areas besides Nashville. I'm hoping that one day, I'll be able to do this full-time and have a bunch of people come to all my shows all the time.
What have you been listening to lately? What artists have been on rotation?
Amber Ais: Heavy rotation right now has been Ryan Beatty's "Calico" for the last four months, and I almost hate that everyone is obsessed with him now because I've been listening to him since "Dreaming of David" and "Boy in Jeans". He really blew the world away with "Calico," though, which is why I'm so happy for his success. The other fun album I've been obsessed with has been Troye Sivan's newest record, "Something to Give Each Other." Ugh, it's just good pop! I love it. Also, I have the biggest crush on Troye, and yes, I know he's gay, but that man is beautiful! And then YEBBA as well. I think my brain was dumb for a minute because I couldn't get into her, but then I was like, WAIT, no, I get it now randomly this year.
What else has been inspiring you?
Amber Ais: I feel like every time we talk, I'm literally going through another break-up! This one isn't super gut-wrenching or devastating, but it's still sad. Losing a friend and a relationship at the same time is really hard. I think sonically, I'm trying to move into maturity. I think that is evident on this next record (spoiler alert) for sure, but the things I've been writing are leading me into new sounds, so I'm excited about it.
I know we always do this, but what's your best advice for your younger self?
Amber Ais: Firstly, baby girl, you're not married, and you would be the worst wife and mom at 23. Let's start there. I also would tell her to release herself from the expectations she has. I love that she's a big dreamer and she's an overachiever, but girl, CHILL. Take your time and enjoy it. I would also hug her and thank her for being such a big dreamer as well. I wouldn't be making music without her, and I'm glad that I am where I am now.