The enigmatic artist, Ammonite, weaves a captivating sonic tapestry that bridges ancient echoes with glacial tinged soundscapes of the future. Ammonite’s voice, once an experiment, now shapes a new musical landscape, inviting listeners to explore its boundless potential.

Interview

Photo by Yasmin Vardi

Hi Amy and thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. We're excited to dive into your debut mini album.

Could you tell us a bit about the story behind the name "Ammonite"? Does the beautiful fossilised creature resonate with the themes explored in "Blueprints"?

I was thinking of a name for some time, and then came across ‘ammonite’ when I was finishing up the first couple of songs. I like things to connect and wanted the project name to make sense with the music, which I make with just my voice and electronic processing. A fossil is a unique and ancient artefact, which in a way, is just like the voice –– there’s no fossil or voice quite the same, each one looks / sounds slightly different, each one tells its own story. When Yasmin Vardi and I began to collaborate on the visuals for the project, we found so many textures and created imagery that in some way has the appearance of fossils. The visuals are also really inspired by a section of the river in Deptford and Greenwich. When the tide goes out, there are these incredible lines in the sand created by the water which has the appearance of a fossil. It’s so beautiful. This also led me to the album name Blueprints –– a glitchy blue river of moody voices!

How did you approach blending the intersection of voice and technology to create a cohesive experience?

I’ve always worked with other collaborators or producers early on in the music making process, but with Ammonite I wanted to see if I could try something new. My voice is my main instrument, so I decided to start playing around with sampling it. I was really inspired by the organ music of Kali Malone at the time, and ambient producers who play with limitation, so ended up making a lot of slow chord progressions with my sampled voice. I then started to record improvised bits of singing and chopped them up across the tracks. I loved the way it sounded, and it quickly developed into something more. I would have never called myself a producer up until that point – it was just an experiment, which actually worked! It was my own way of making music, which was fun and exciting. It felt like there was so much potential. I later took the productions to my close friend Calum Duncan, who ended up co-producing and mixing the album, running a lot of it through his tape machine and guitar pedals! Every time we worked together was exciting and usually a bit bonkers... we were just having fun which is definitely what music making should be.

Your music is described as both close up and intimate, yet distant and reflective. How do you navigate this duality, and what role does vulnerability play in your creative process?

I love playing with opposites. I’ve found that the voice is often associated with being natural, bodily, and intimate, whereas technology is frequently thought of as the opposite – manmade and masculine. Music production and technology is also a field dominated by men, whereas women are more affiliated with performing and singing. I loved that the music I was making synthesised the two worlds.

This whole record making process was playing with vulnerability. It was an explorative process, I didn’t know what the end goal was, which was really freeing. It was me just being like “fuck it, I’m going to let go of every songwriting rule I know and just mess about”! It was great, and so much more enjoyable than writing A B A song structures and rhyming lyrics. My background is mostly in songwriting, so just sitting next to the mic and making one sound that is then used for the majority of the track is a VERY different approach, but it’s been quite amazing. In some cases, I would use more of my voice to make a track, singing layers of harmonies and random phrases or words which were sometimes quite personal because they come from my subconscious, but some are also completely random.

How do you balance the exhilarating energy with the somewhat melancholic undertones in your music?

In my mind, all of this music feels really melancholic, but perhaps that was just the sentiment when I wrote it. There is definitely quite a lot of tension within the tracks, especially “You Don’t Know Me” and “Forgive Me, Forget”, and I enjoy playing with that, building the music up to a point and then releasing everything before the end. “ARP” is the only truly energetic track though, one of the last tracks I wrote for Blueprints. Everything was a lot moodier and slower before this, but I wanted to explore some more rhythmic elements, so I started playing around with my voice and arpeggiators, and it just came out of nowhere.

What inspired the poignant, personal lyrics in the track "What If I Knew Me"?

I’ve been constantly searching for my musical identity over the years, and I think “What If I Knew Me” is subconsciously about trying to figure that out. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I wrote the song at the end of my twenties when I was often asking myself what the hell am I doing with my life… It was one of the first tracks I created as Ammonite, and it’s definitely one of the most vulnerable tracks on the record.

Could you share some insight on the artistic choices you made to create the intriguing blend of synthetic and natural aural delights in "Forgive Me Forget"?

I’ve always loved interludes or short pieces of music that help to tell the story of the album as a whole. Generally, Blueprints has a lot of repetitive phrases which I love to mess around with, and I find that if you listen to one lyric over and over, it really morphs and changes its meaning. That’s what this song does – it just has two different phrases “Forgive Me” / “Forget Me”. I kind of hear each line with a question mark at the end, but when the lyrics slowly end up merging, the sentiment changes. This song was written about my insecurities, my doubts, and worries. The things I’m thinking but most likely, not saying.

Sonically, this one is inspired by some of my favourite artists like Mica Levi or Malibu. It’s harsher and brighter than other tracks on the record and has an otherworldly kind of feeling to it.

What emotions or experiences influenced the composition of "Too Close", and how did you translate them into music?

I was feeling frustrated with myself when I wrote this. I was getting overwhelmed by others' needs and it was a message to basically tell myself to stop letting them get to me and to focus on what I need. It’s still quite improvised — I remember just singing random lyrics over the verses until it worked, an approach which can convey more emotion since it’s so raw and intuitive.

With "ARP Reprise", what led you to explore this decelerated take on the original, and what message does it convey to listeners?

This track was another experiment! I took the original version of “ARP” but slowed it right down, and then de-tuned it halfway through which I loved doing. Later, Calum and I finalised the idea – he recorded the track onto cassette using the Tascam, and then pitched it down in real time… and then back up again! But as I mentioned earlier, I love connecting everything, so having “ARP” return signifies change and evolution. It’s dreamy and fragmented and feels pretty special. I also love that I found a way to make the most upbeat track on the album slow and moody. Hehe.

Working with Yasmin Vardi, you’ve created a unique visual world for “Blueprints”. What was the collaborative process like, and how did it enhance the album’s concept?

Yasmin is an incredible artist. My talented friend and musician Semi Precious had worked with her quite a bit, and recommended we speak. Yas completely understood everything I was trying to say with my music. She got all the references, from cyborg feminism to the lines in the river bed and the colour blue, and together we’ve created lots of visuals that really elevate the project. She found ways to create an impactful visual world that is rather simple, but effective… Yas filmed me next to my window, running through the basement of my building, and wandering around on Deptford beach. It was freezing cold, and we nearly got swept away by the river… but we had a lot of fun. We’ve become good friends too which was an added bonus to our collaboration!

We also recently started a little collective called Unravel with Semi Precious & J.L Segel and recently put on a night at The Albany Studio in Deptford, where I debuted this music. We were able to showcase the full set of visuals there and hope to continue this night in the future to share more of this work. It’s a space to experiment and share mostly audio-visual works in the electronic / ambient world.

Having previously collaborated with Bicep, did their sound influence your approach in the production of "Blueprints"?

I worked with Bicep for their first record, funnily enough, on the two more ambient tracks on the album, “Ayr” and “Drift”. I remember them telling me that they love to manipulate vocals so they sound more like synths and voices. At the time, I was listening to a lot of trip hop – pretty sure I had the track “The Spoils” by Massive Attack & Hope Sandoval on repeat around that time, and I was also making electronic vocal music under a different name, but it was early in my career and I was still learning about this world. I later went on to work for labels like Mute and learnt so much more about electronic music, my mind was blown… artists like Goldfrapp, Arca, Throbbing Gristle have all been so inspiring. All of this experience, along with my time as a popular music student at Goldsmiths, has led me to this point. Ammonite definitely feels like the most exciting thing I’ve done so far but it’s totally born out of all of my previous involvement in music, including my work with Bicep which I’m really proud of.

With “Blueprints” marking a new chapter, where do you see your sound and artistic direction heading in the future? Is there anything we should look forward to from you in the future?

I’m working on new music at the moment, and I’d love to get something new out quite quickly. I’m sure the Ammonite sound will develop and change, but I love making music with just my voice and electronics, so I want to keep exploring this. It works best for me to have limitations, and it honestly feels like there’s a world of possibilities (and so many more plugins to buy)!

I recently did a remix for David Holmes which is kind of wild, and I’ve also got lots of remixes coming of tracks from Blueprints! It feels like a really exciting time and I’m beyond grateful to the incredible people at Ransom Note for believing in me and my music. I’d love to continue releasing music & collaborating with other artists.

I’ll also be performing live this year – I have a show supporting the artist Olivia Chaney at Union Chapel on 11 June, and there’s going to be more Unravel nights coming soon. The next one should be in July.

Thanks so much Juno!

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You Don't Know Me Music Video

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