We’re loving Canadian artist AMAARA—so FLARE is premiering her newest single “Blue” today! “Blue” is the second track AMAARA has released, following “Black Moon.” AMAARA’s Kaelen Ohm uses her acting and filmmaking experience to artfully pair sound and image, and plans on releasing a full visual album this spring. The award-winning filmmaker told FLARE she describes her sound as “ethereal, spacey, percussive and reverb-drenched.” We caught up with Ohm to talk about the inspiration behind the AMAARA multimedia project and her latest single “Blue.” Listen here:
AMAARA was a side project that started while you were in the band Reuben and The Dark. What inspired you to break off and write your own music? I joined Reuben and the Dark as a session player, taking the place of a guitarist who had to leave for another project. It was an amazing experience on so many levels, though I wasn’t contributing too much creatively because they were already established and had just released a record. I had always played in bands where I was actively writing, so it felt natural to be working on my own music between tours. I was feeling the need to have a solo project, something that was a true artistic imprint of me. It was more of an exercise in creative self-trust before it had a name or any finished songs.
“The song is about trying to navigate love during a time of self transformation.” —AMAARA
Where did the inspiration for the track “Blue” come from? “Blue” happened one night in my basement a few days before I left for a residency at the Banff Centre just over a year ago. I was struggling with another idea I had been working on for over a week. I got distracted and spontaneously started playing the chorus. It was one of those experiences where I just surrendered and became a vessel for it. The song is about trying to navigate love during a time of self transformation and so I suppose that’s what I was going through at the time and where the inspiration came from.
Your work is more than just music—it’s an entire multi-media project. What do you think is the significance of pairing sound and images? Having AMAARA as a multi-media project has made a space for me to merge filmmaking, acting and music. I’ve bounced from one to the other professionally for a while now and I’m grateful to have them all in one place. As a filmmaker it’s always a journey to communicate your vision to actors or musicians. If it’s a music video, you’re interpreting someone’s song visually, which is wild because nine times out of 10 your vision has nothing to do with what the song is about. The video I made for my single “Black Moon” was my first experience with creating a video from the same place the song came from. Music is always very visual for me so I’m often creating images with sound as I write.
As a creator, what artists are you inspired by at the moment? I’m inspired by a lot of female artists right now, especially ones who are leading the way in transcending sexism in the film and music industry. Reed Morano, the American cinematographer and director (Meadowland, The Handmaid’s Tale) is incredible and a pack leader for women behind the camera in film. Claire Boucher of Grimes is a genius and often underestimated, especially as a music producer and video director. Sarah Piantadosi, a London-based fashion photographer and Jaime McCuaig, a florist in Toronto—her work belongs in museums or a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph. FKA Twigs, Brit Marling: there are so many.
How is AMAARA’s sound different from the music you’ve created in the past? The previous bands I’ve been a part of have been so different sonically from AMAARA. In the last six years I’ve played in an all girl garage-punk band, a shoegaze pop band and an indie folk band, RATD, among others. I still feel like I’m finding the sound for this project. My dream is to actually make ambient music.
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