Get ready to groove down memory lane as Dutch pop sensation Amber lights up the dance floor once again! In an electrifying twist ahead of her album’s 25th anniversary, Amber has dropped sizzling remixes of the iconic song, “If You Could Read My Mind.”
Joining Amber on the unearthed tracks are Stars on 54 members Ultra Naté and Jocelyn Enriquez. Their version of the Gordon Lightfoot classic “If You Could Read My Mind” was featured on the soundtrack of the 1998 drama film, 54. Now, fans of the tune can enjoy the tune again and listen to over a dozen creative renditions.
In an exclusive interview, Amber discusses her musical upbringing, the challenges of her early career, vulnerability in her music, the upcoming 25th anniversary, and the revitalizing remixes of her classic hit “This Is Your Night.”
Conversation with Amber
Your musical background is quite diverse, with influences from your parents who are a songwriter, piano teacher, and opera singer. How do you think this unique upbringing has shaped your musical style and approach to your career?
Amber: I grew up in a place where music surrounded me often and I had a multi-generational family connection to art and music. I think one can most likely speak of a genetic predisposition to musical talent, too. I also come from a pretty dysfunctional family, so music and creativity also became an outlet for me. It was a distraction from reality but also worked for me like therapy.
Starting your career with your debut single “This Is Your Night,” you mentioned taking the deal without much knowledge about the music industry. Could you share some insights into the challenges you faced and lessons you learned during those early years?
Amber: It is the oldest story in the music industry: you are young, you love what you do, and your focus is on the creativity of it and how it makes you feel. Then other people approach you and see in you what they want and need, for them to further themselves. You give it your best shot and are excited when you receive a deal and you trust the process of the people that you work with. That way, I was robbed of my publishing parts, proper accounting statements and lots of money, while being the one that had to do most of the work to propel the music to success.
You’ve achieved an impressive feat of seven consecutive No. 1 dance singles and six Top 10 dance hits. What do you believe sets your music apart and makes it resonate so strongly with the dance music audience?
Amber: What set my music apart within that genre, was most likely that I actually wrote real songs. They were then produced and remixed with fun dance beats. It was not just about repetitive ad-libs and silly phrases and gimmicks. I wanted to also have lyrical substance and melodies. Songs that one can also strip down bare to acoustic versions.
Your songwriting has earned you recognition, including a Grammy nomination for Cher’s rendition of “Love One Another.” Can you tell us more about your songwriting process and how you bring that special unconventional touch to your songs?
Amber: Mostly, I might come up with a theme or sentence first. Then, I’ll write the full lyrics around that idea. After that, I’ll come up with a clear melody for the hook. Finally, they will be matched to tracks, beats and an overall melody.
Transitioning from being signed to a label to running your own show with JMCA Enterprises, what motivated you to become an independent artist and what impact has this decision had on your creative freedom and musical journey?
Amber: What motivated me was the shadiness and exploitation of me by others around me. Back then, when I got signed, there was no way to even have an international distribution deal for your music as a single artist without being signed to a label. There were also no legal downloads, there was only physical product which had to be produced up front. I was locked in a contract that I wanted out of right after my first album. In order to survive, I started writing with other songwriters and producers for my second album and others took credit for that. In 2003, I asked Tom Silverman personally for my premature release from that contract. I saw an industry in change and wanted to take that chance. And so I did, hired a few competent people to learn from and never looked back.
Your self-released album “My Kind of World” showcased a deeper and more honest side of you. Could you share what inspired you to open up in such a vulnerable way through your music?
Amber: Before that album, I had felt that I was not allowed to showcase the many facets I had to offer. This album is what came out on the other side.
“If You Could Read My Mind” is a timeless cover song that has remained popular through different interpretations. How did you feel when you were asked to collaborate on this iconic track, and what do you believe makes this song resonate across generations?
Amber: This was an idea by the then VP of Tommy Boy Records, as the label was collaborating with the movie 54 and its production company to curate the soundtrack for the movie. My collaborators on this track, Jocelyn and Ultra, came on board which was exciting as all 3 of us were doing well in the charts at the time. The song is a classic that has been covered countless times by an array of artists throughout time. It is a great example that good songwriting can be interpreted across genres and time. Even though the movie 54 did not meet box office expectations, the song is still a favorite out there. It is always a risk when you cover iconic songs. You have to make it your own and I think we succeeded in that!
The upcoming 25th anniversary of your self-titled second album is a significant milestone. Looking back on that album, what memories and emotions does it evoke, and how do you feel about its enduring popularity?
Amber: It naturally comes with a lot of feelings. I know what struggles I was going through at that time, but it also reminds me of how strong and determined I was to fight my way through to my independence. It was the first album where I felt I was coming into myself. I remember fighting for the title ‘I’m Free’ to be added to the album, as it had such significance to me. This album also reminds me of the magic behind working with people like Billy Steinberg and Rick Nowels and meeting people in this industry who were kind to me. I would tell every artist out there: be you, you are only believable in your authenticity and individuality and truth.
You’ve mentioned that you love a good challenge and always give each musical chapter your all. What drives you to continually push boundaries and evolve as an artist, even after achieving so much success?
Amber: I define my success also by giving many people on this planet a piece of music that has become part of their storyline and has made them happy or feel things. I’m proud to have created music that might possibly survive me. My personal success is also being a truth teller, being independent and calling my own shots.
Your recent release of remixes for “This Is Your Night” brings new life to a classic hit. How do you approach reimagining your own songs, and what do you hope listeners take away from these remixes in comparison to the original version?
Amber: In 2021, Tommy Boy Records began to unearth all these yet unreleased remixes from back in the day. I am very happy that my loyal fans now finally get to enjoy mixes they never heard before or heard and never were able to get their hands on. Remixes were made for the clubs back then to make the songs appeal to a variety of venues. That is the wonderful part of music – there is something out there for everyone to relate and listen to.
Listen to the remixes to “If You Could Read My Mind” HERE
Listen the remixes to “This Is Your Night” HERE
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