AmPm talk about the main inspiration behind their love for music, their masks and more: Interview
Japanese duo AmPm have been making their presence felt within the electronic dance industry, one fire track at a time. With travelling around the world and exploring different cultures being the main inspiration behind their love for music, the duo have been able to provide fans alike with productions that perfectly represent who they are and what they have set out to achieve as artists within our community. With Asia being the prominent region of their success, AmPm have also seen their reach expand on a global scale in recent times, with the biggest names in the industry being full of praise on each release. Their upcoming dance track series will be featuring productions titled after the global cities where they have felt the most inspiration to date, with ’Tokyo’ and ‘New York City’ being the first two installments. We caught up with AmPm and here is what they had to say about their role within our scene and what the future holds for them!
How long have you guys been producing music for? Give us an insight on who or what inspired you guys to pursue this particular career pathway?
We debuted as AmPm in 2017, so this year will be our fourth year. Our roots are different, but we both have worked in music for over ten years prior to our debut. From around 2015, we started to travel together in Japan and overseas. While meeting and talking to various artists, we thought we would like to introduce them to a wider audience, and after trial-and-error, we ended up debuting as artists ourselves.
With over 70 million streams on Spotify and more than 20 tracks released to date, you are one of Japan’s most in-demand music production exports. How does it feel being as successful as you are in your homeland, and what are your aspirations for the future?
We had a surge of listeners mainly through Spotify right after our debut and to be honest, our first impression was that we were more bewildered than happy. We didn’t have a good idea about what we wanted to do, and regardless of being insufficiently prepared, the number of streams went up and various offers came rushing in, and we were just so confused every day. Finally, things are settling and at the same time, our thoughts and what we need to do are becoming more apparent, so now we are just about to focus on these again. We will continue to collaborate with vocalists, and also aim to visit many countries to hold live concerts.
In 2017, your debut track ‘Best Part of Us’ feat. Michael Kaneko kickstarted your affair with success. What does that track mean to you guys? Could you give us an insight on the creation of this track and working with Michael Kaneko?
As mentioned earlier, we were traveling together to many countries around 2015. We established a company and the truth is that we produced “Best Part of Us” as a theme song for our company. The song ended up too well to become just a theme song for a company, so we decided to release it. That is how AmPm came to be as an artist and this song was released. We met Michael Kaneko through the Internet and our first meeting was when we discovered the videos that he had uploaded on YouTube and we contacted him. At that time, we didn’t think we would be interacting with each other for such a long time.
Performing at Spotify on Stage as the only Japanese artists must have been a proud moment for you guys. How meaningful is it for you to represent your country on a global scale?
At least in the field of dance music, the current situation is that there aren’t many Asians on the global stage. However, there are many lovely DJs and producers in Japan. Our presence in the world gives hope to those in Japan and we also think it would teach them how to get onto the global stage. We really feel a lot of responsibility. Anyway, Spotify on Stage was an event that happened just a few months after our debut and we still remember it clearly as a big experience.
With Asia the prominent region of your success, you have also found yourselves performing worldwide, such as at Ultra Miami and even headlining New York. Is it of the essence for your music to be reached worldwide and why?
We both had individual ties to the music industry even before our debut as AmPm. In the field of dance music, there has been discrimination in the past. In European clubs, the audience has been known to frequently complain if the DJ is an Asian, and we had witnessed that many times. We are very happy for our songs to be enjoyed in any country, but by increasing the number of listeners to our songs, we hope that discrimination towards Asians in dance music would diminish, even a little bit. In that sense, we think that it is important for our music to reach the world.
Besides from your own music, you have also released remixes of songs by overseas artists such as Afrojack, R3HAB and Nicky Romero. Do you guys gain further inspiration from working on tracks by such artists, and would you like to maybe some day collaborate with them?
Our work with them has really helped us with our growth. Seeing up close how they work on projects, including the staff around them, was a very big experience. It would be great if we could work on a project together again.
In 2019, you were recognised at the Digital Contents of the Year 2018/24th AMD Award, where you won the Special Jury Award. How much does it mean to you guys to be recognised for your hard work, and are awards an essential element in relation to your career in the industry?
We won an award as a result, but we are not working towards winning awards, so we don’t mind it much. We think such awards are good to have, but we want to focus more on putting our efforts into things that are in front of us. We also think it is important to try out new things everyday.
With fans among artists and music lovers alike, how important is it portray a certain image within today’s society, and what do you feel is the main element that makes you stand out from the rest? Other than your masks of course!
When evaluating artists and songs, we think factors other than music are also very important. This has both good sides and bad sides to it. In fact, we wear a mask, and as a result of experimenting on what would happen if we hid how we looked and kept our gender and nationality as unknown (that information was not disclosed at our debut), we were able to gain listeners from throughout the world. If we had shown the world who we were when we debuted, would it have been the same? We don’t think so, and this is why we think how we portray ourselves, our image, is very important.
With masks being mentioned, what was the inspiration behind this unique and eccentric look? Is mystery a crucial element of who you are as both artists and people?
We are masking our real faces on purpose because we want everyone to purely listen to our music. When we debuted, we wore masks of polar bears and now we wear masks of rabbits. We might change the mask to a different one in the future. It might seem like a mystery to some people, but we hope everyone can enjoy, including how we look in the masks.
With the global pandemic putting a hold to ‘normality,’ how have you guys been able to adapt to the current changes? Have you been impacted in a negative manner when it comes to producing music, or have you found extra time to work on new tracks?
We didn’t think it would affect us for such a long time, but we just have to accept that. Production was not affected so much, but I think the fact that we couldn’t hold live concerts was the major effect. Anyway, this situation is now “normal” and we think this is a chance to think harder about the future rather than the past, so we are considering this situation positively.
Congratulations on the releases of ’Tokyo’ and ’New York City.’ What was the inspiration behind the release of each song, and how meaningful is the upcoming dance track series for you? Is travelling an essential element in providing inspiration for each of your tracks?
The trigger that led to our group was traveling. Under the pandemic, we couldn’t go abroad, but we thought we could get inspiration from the cities that had influenced us again and these are the songs that we produced. We have already produced new songs and they are based on the image of European and Asian cities. We intend to release them this autumn, so please look forward to them!
What does 2021 hold in store for AmPm? Any hints or clues that we could get about future productions and collaborations?
We will be releasing the dance tracks on the cities that have influenced us, and as in the past, we will also release songs produced through collaborations with vocalists. 2020 was a year full of disruptions for us and we could only release a few new songs, but we hope to release many new songs in 2021 and would like you to look forward to them!
Check out the first two installments of their upcoming dance track series below!
Image Credit: AmPm (via Press Release)