ACL Fest Interview: Amber Mark
Glossy jazz with shades of Sade
Amber Mark12:15pm, American Express stage
Amber Mark, 24, is the third-culture girl of R&B, blurring genre lines and creating a lane all her own. A whirl of bossa nova, pop, and neo-soul, May EP Conexão reclaims love again after the loss of her mother.
Mark grew up a nomad, traveling through Europe and Asia with her German mother, a painter who practiced Tibetan Buddhism. The singer eventually settled in NYC, where she currently resides, with her godparents to attend high school. Her 2017 debut, the seven-track 3:33am, grieves her mother's passing five years ago in songs like "Monsoon," where a subtle piano soliloquy opens the floodgates to her tears. Tribute to their travels together, the album incorporates Eastern percussion and strings, plus a mournful sitar contemporized over dance beats.
"I always wanted to incorporate Indian instrumentation when I talked about my mom," says Mark. "She was German, but she loved India and she lived out the rest of her life there."
Love is a theme in Conexão as well.
"I may not ever experience a love that's like that again, the ultimate love from my mother, but I realized you do find love again in a different shape, one that's as strong and formed differently."
Though reluctant to sing about romantic love because "I find it so cheesy," Mark explores different relationships on the new extended play. Lead single "Love Me Right" invites comparison to Sade's glossy jazz production, but where her voice burst onto the international scene with a mature knowingness, Mark's smoky croon addresses the relatability of youth. Her cover of Sade's "Love Is Stronger Than Pride," a Christmas present to her sister, received the stamp of approval by Sade herself.
"My next album will deal with insecurities and confidence," says Mark. "It'll take you on a journey."