Amali Ward is a young and talented Australian songstress with a big voice. Her Motown-inspired album Back in Time will be released in April (check out iTunes) and her new single ‘Knock You Out’ is a catchy tune with a powerful message against racism. We first discovered Amali as a teen Australian Idol contestant back in 2004, but since then, she has grown up and re-imagined herself musically, with soul songs that pack a punch and compliment her voice. I had the pleasure of asking Amali a few questions about her music.
Amali, your single ‘Knock You Out’ was just released – can you tell us what the inspiration was behind it?
“It was inspired by a conversation I had a couple of years ago with an old school friend, who just burst out with this offhand comment that was really racist. It took me by surprise that someone from my generation could have such a backwards attitude; it made me really angry.”
What can fans or readers who might not yet be familiar with your music expect from your album Back in Time, which will be released in April?
“I went over to LA and teamed up with producer David Ryan Harris and a bunch of amazing musicians to create what I guess is still a pop record, but it’s very influenced by old- school soul too. The musicians all played live too which was perfect for this album; just like how they used to record all those old Motown songs in the studio together. I’m really proud of how it turned out.”
Aussie fans might remember you as a schoolgirl and one of the Australian Idol runners-up in the 2000s. Retrospectively, was it a positive thing that you didn’t win the title of Australian Idol, since a lot of reality show artists seem to have an expiration date?
“Absolutely – I was miles away from being ready for that experience, which isn’t to say it was a negative one. I just couldn’t exactly capitalise on that type of exposure when I didn’t really know yet what type of music I wanted to make or what I wanted to say. Or maybe I would have been led down a completely different path had I won. I’ve learnt so much about myself since then.”
What have you learned about yourself since Australian Idol?
“When I went on the show, I was just a school kid who liked singing. I’d done a tiny gig at a cafe but basically school assembly was the biggest crowd I’d seen. I didn’t know what type of artist I wanted to be and I didn’t really know how to perform, I just knew how to sing. So the show was pretty overwhelming for me because suddenly there’s this national audience who know you and critique you around the television every Sunday night. Since then I have played countless gigs, which have definitely made me a stronger performer. I actually have fun now instead of being terrified of the audience like I was back then. Also I’ve just written a whole bunch of songs and learnt what I actually like and what type of music I want to make.”
What inspires you musically?
“Playing live with my band – they’re so great. When everything is just working it’s the best feeling- and also seeing an awesome gig, or just cranking up an amazing album in the car. I’m sure there are plenty of complete strangers who have seen me belting out a tune in my car!”
What advice would you give to budding musicians who might be reading this?
“Try not to compare either your music or your success to other people, and don’t take yourself too seriously! And just get out and play in front of people as much as you can.”
Image courtesy of Amali Ward