A Parisian dancer turned American pop star on the rise, the blue-coiffed AMAR’s new video best exemplifies who he is as an artist: a fab retro 80s bohemian and a very contemporary, vivacious queerdo. Get “Ready To Dance” with this soon-to-be-sensation!
Thotyssey: Bonjour AMAR, thanks for chatting with us today! The year is nearly over… what are your thoughts and feelings reflecting on 2020?
AMAR: It was indeed a tough year for many of us so far. But, I thought it was challenging in an artistic way, too. I’ve had to pursue the making of my record, and to stay focused on its release… plus to find ways to perform, to stay spontaneous and excited about creating in this situation.
Is recording a very difficult process for you, or do you love it?
Whether it’s in the writing or the recording, I find it one of the most inspiring processes of the making. when you’re in a recording studio there’s a vibe, a personal atmosphere. It’s a collaboration, and being surrounded by a team of passionate musicians as Kordezalp and Pom de Paw are, make the all process even better.
Tell us a bit about Otto Disco, your electrifying new album which I have been luckily graced with a sneak peek of! What inspired these songs, and how might you describe the sound?
I really wanted to infuse my personality into the album. While I’m quite confident, I’m also tended by doubts and fears… but I somehow always find a way to jump on my rope and to keep the track. So that is the entire vibe of the record; it’s darker, with a mix of euphoria and that tremendous need to move and dance. I’d say that the music we co-produced with Kordezalp and Pom de Paw began there: a mix of urban and also glam, with a rebellious side.
Although the songs definitely have dance pop elements with a dark edge like you said, I wouldn’t quite call this a disco record despite the title… even though there seems to be a certain neo-disco moment happening now.
Well, you’re right! The disco in the title was more like a tribute to German painter Otto Dix. As a huge fan of disco, I thought that some kind of 70’s DJ would’ve loved to be named that way.
Otto Dix! He was wonderfully creepy and sexy.
Creepy and sexy… that’s how i like it! The album is clearly inspired by synth pop and the 80s, and those emerged from disco… here in a modern, rock-clubbing way.
Speaking of the 80s, your newly dropped video for Otto Disco’s debut single “Ready To Dance” has very much the vintage vibe of that decade—mixed up with contemporary footage of protest and demonstrations that happened in New York this summer. It’s all pretty expertly woven together… how did that concept come to be?
The “Ready to Dance” music video has emerged thanks to directors Hakim Atoui and Baptiste Etchegaray, who made a movie a year ago based on the first Pride that happened in Paris’ suburbs. I was performing there, and it was quite tense because of the location. But it turned into a major celebration, which was amazing. At the time, I was also on studio working on the record, and I just wrote the “Ready to Dance” song… so it happened to miraculously follow.
We used footage of the movie, and I mixed it with old LGBTQ+ archives from the 70s and the 80s, from riots and parties. And it’s quite interesting because, whether it is from the movie or the archives, you don’t quite know well which era you’re in. That, to me, is the real message of the music video. It’s dancing, but it’s also to make you think. And this year we had a lot to think about, and to me it was important to embody all the messages of minorities into a song and a music video. We created a path from Paris to New York, but also a path for freedom fighters.
You are a Paris native!
How did you develop as a musician there, and what was influencing you?
I started off as a ballet dancer, actually… but I always liked to perform, you know. Growing up I was listening to glam and pop music, and later on when I was done with the dancing I drifted to the burlesque and drag scene. From there I started to jam with bands, and sing. Then I started to write songs–it was way more rock-oriented. I was performing in every spot I could find. Once I had a mic on, I knew that music was my thing. It is to me a combination of all those elements I’ve had before.
Is it much more challenging to write lyrics in English over French?
The absolute opposite! Well the thing is, I’m more sensitive to English, in a pop music way. I find it way more catchy; though I like to listen to French music, I don’t feel the need to write in French now. Maybe later! But I incorporated French lyrics in the song “Manifesto.”
What ultimately brought you here to NYC?
New York is the best. Period. The vibe, the energy–it’s spontaneous, wild. I’ve always loved the aura of the city. I’ve also had the chance to meet incredible people there.
Can’t wait to see us back to full form at the end of this lockdown! By the way, you have a trademark blue mushroom do… how did that come about?
It suits me well! I love blue, especially royal.
It’s pretty! And as far as your New York performances go, one soiree you’ve regularly been a part of is Chauncey Dandridge’s “Freak-Out” variety show, which pre-Covid was a monthly affair at Stonewall. How would you describe that night, and how do you get involved?
I met Chauncey through some friends I was partying with. He invited me to come to see a show, and I couldn’t resist to snatch the mic and hit the stage! How can you miss a chance to be at Stonewall!? It was amazing, and I felt so lucky.
The show has gone digital since lockdown! What’s the whole digital performing experience like for you?
It was scary first, but it was a good way to go over the lockdown. I was in Paris, and I designed a show from here as pre-recorded videos. It was during several riots here and there, plus the pandemic. We needed to create something that was over the ocean.
Digital “Freak Out” will be returning on December 30th for a New Years Eve-Eve edition! What can we expect?
I’ll be premiering my next music video “Manifesto” directed by Xavier Deranlot. It’s a more experimental song, that really creates a mix between the euphoria and the darker side of the album. It’s also a metaphor of our era.
Wonderful! And congrats to Chauncey and the whole “Freak Out” team for the GLAM nomination, by the way!
Yes, I’m glad for him! He deserves it… he does a lot for the community.
What else should the children be looking out for?
“Ready to Dance” is available on digital platforms; the music video is online. Follow the release of my next music video starting 2021… and I just can’t wait to drop the album in February, and to give people a very good time!
We will definitely be tuning in! And my standard closing question for interviewees this month… what’s your favorite holiday song?
Jobriath (aka Cole Berlin), – “Movie Queen.”
Love it! Au revoir AMAR, and Happy Holidays!