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AmPm chat their new single, wearing masks, and cracking into the international music market

If you haven’t already listened to AmPm’s latest single Travelling Light, you’re missing out. For the track, the Japanese electronic duo enlisted the vocal assistance of Swedish artist Frida Sundemo, and the result is truly special.

So fresh off the single’s release, we caught up with AmPm to chat about they came to be involved with Sundemo, their masks, and cracking an international music market.

Fresh off the release of their latest single Travelling Light, we caught up with Japanese electronic duo AmPm to chat about their masks and the struggles of cracking into an international music market.

HAPPY: Hey, how are you? What are you up to at the moment?

AMPM: Besides being an artist, we own a company and run a design and music business. So we’re always struggling to meet delivery deadlines.

HAPPY: We’re really loving Travelling Light… could you tell us a bit about the track?

AMPM: We have always been looking for vocalists from anywhere in the world. For this track, the vocalist Frida Sundemo was introduced to us. We love her clean and unique voice, so we decided to work with her. Before we formed AmPm, we travelled to many places inside and outside of Japan. We are applying those experiences to our creativity. However, we had not made a track with the word “Travelling“. So this track turned out to be a great one to represent ourselves.

HAPPY: We love Frida Sundemo’s vocals on the track too! How did she come to be involved with the song?

AMPM: As we mentioned, she was introduced to us. First, we showed her 2 demo tracks, had her choose from them, and then asked her to sing as she would like to. When we first received the track with her singing, it was something we were not expecting. In a good way, of course. She shared some awesome ideas that we would have not come up with.

HAPPY: You both wear masks while performing your music. What do you think the benefits are of being a masked musician?

AMPM: We have some reasons to wear masks. One of them is that we, or somebody inside of the masks, are changeable, especially for live performances. Also, masks can protect our personal matters. Like protecting from being judged by our looks. We are Japanese, Asian. That fact is an obstacle we need to get over in order to fight in the European music market.
We feel there is less bias against Asians these days, but there are still tendencies to look down on qualities Asians make. Sometimes we get characterized as something we don’t want to be. There are those barriers before our music directly reach an audience. Not all Japanese people like anime, or are samurai. Wearing masks enable us to work without worrying about races, and our music can be treated equally and be evaluated as it. Of course, our identity as Japanese is important to us. We hope we can make a good use of it.

HAPPY: So far, all the vocalists for your songs have sung in English… why use English over Japanese for your songs?

AMPM: The music industry in Japan is uniquely closed-off, compared to other countries. So indie artists like us usually struggle to become famous in Japan. Of course, becoming famous outside of Japan needs a lot of work too, but the difference is that there are various ways out there, like the media, for indie artists to be recognized. So we focused on the global market at first. Artists need to have their music reach audiences. We released songs with English lyrics because they could potentially reach a broader audience. Later on, we could possibly release songs in Japanese, Spanish, or Chinese. We will flexibly change ourselves as we continue building our career as artists.

HAPPY: Your debut single Best Part of Us racked up over 10 million Spotify plays within six months… what was it like seeing your first song have so much success?

AMPM: It was very surprising to us. When the song got into Spotify’s global viral chart and U.S. viral chart, the play counts shot up really fast. Using Github and other tools, we did research on how Spotify’s viral chart works as well as our own promotional activities. We still think that was an error to get listed in those viral charts. We were very lucky. Anyways, the song is still reaching audiences without losing count. That’s because it’s uniquely one of a kind and touching a lot of people. We are really grateful.

HAPPY: Are there any particular artists who are currently influencing you?

AMPM: We have different taste of music. One of us is from house music base like Frankie Knuckles. Of course, he is influenced by Michael Jackson. The other one has been influenced by the Beatles a lot. Not only their music but also there’s so much to learn from the business side of the Beatles.

HAPPY: What’s next for AmPm? Any other exciting plans in the works? 

AMPM: We just released an original song in December as the last single of the year. We have some more that have been waiting to be released next year. Roughly after next spring, we should be going to work with artists from Japan and other Asian countries. In terms of live performance side, we plan to have shows and to start our own events next year.

Travelling Light is available now. Listen above.

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December 7, 2018

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