Amber Mark’s debut 3:33am uses a blend of electronic sounds, classical Indian singing, and soulful vocals to capture her stages of grief after the loss of her mother. Her six-song release dresses each feeling—from regret, anger, and  isolation to sadness, questioning and finally, overcoming—in (surprisingly) driving and upbeat instrumentation. “Monsoon” perhaps best captures the album’s tone: we hear a light rain shower, the slow groan of the piano, the sounds of Mark’s mother’s voice, and a beat with the snaps and pops of a freshly poured bowl of Rice Krispies.

We had a chance to chat with her before her Boston stop while on tour with Glass Animals; she’ll be opening on Saturday, October 7 at Agganis Arena.

On Her Music

KB: I’ve heard your music described as “tribal soul.” Can you please describe your music without using genre names?

AM: Well, this past EP I would definitely describe it as “a New Yorker moving to India.” Generally with the music I make I would describe it as “New Yorker moves to..*insert country*”

KB:  Your songs are intentionally upbeat, even if they deal with sad subject matter. Are there songs you like (that you haven’t wrote) that share that similar style of juxtaposition?

AM: I think there are many artists that do this but in different ways. Kendrick Lamar is a great example. “Humble,” to be exact. The production on that track is quite aggressive and one would almost expect a very cocky I make money, I get ass, strippers, lambos etc. subject. But Kendrick actually has a beautiful message. I feel he does this with the majority of his work.

On Hometowns and Constantly Traveling

KB: You’ve grown up living (as Noisey described it) a “nomadic existence.” How has the tour and constantly being on the road different and similar to the way you grew up?

AM: It’s very similar moving to different cities quite a bit. So because I did it so much as a kid moving so much doesn’t phase me at all. It’s different in the sense that as a kid when we were traveling we had time to really experience where we were and adapt to our surroundings. Whereas with being on tour you’re constantly on the road don’t get to really experience the cities you’re in. But it all makes up for it cause I get to sing for the fans that live in the cities we’re in.

I think the only thing I really struggle with is that I don’t see my family for long amounts of time. As a child I travelled a lot, but I had my mother. It can sometimes get lonely on the road.

KB: A lot of people (especially musicians) “represent” a particular city, or are said to have a sound associated with a particular part of the world. Since you grew up in a lot of different places, do you feel like you have a special connection to any particular places? I know you incorporate a lot of sounds from India (and certainly nostalgia ties certain memories with spaces) but do you feel like there is a place (or places) that most closely reflect your identity?

AM: I think it will always come back to New York City. I will always be a New Yorker. Out of all the places I’ve lived I always came back to NY. Also if you add up the amount of months and years I’ve spent in NY it would be the most I’ve spent anywhere.

On The Number Three

KB: You’ve talked a lot about how the number three that is a really common number in your life. Can you tell us three things that are really meaningful to you?

AM: Family is always number one to me. Fairness/equality is something that, with everything going on recently, has become extremely meaningful to me.

On Sounds and Samples

KB: Can you tell me more about voice snippets of your mother that are in “Monsoon,” and how you happened to have that recording?

AM: It was actually a video recording of me flying back to New York for the summer while we were living in Berlin. I wanted to make a video for my godmother from my mother. Hence why I’m telling her that they don’t speak German and that she needs to speak English. When she says she loves me that is from a more recent recording she made for me while she was in hospice.

KB: You use a lot of interesting sounds in your music. Can you give me a breakdown of the different sounds that are used in “S P A C E,” and describe what’s going on in the middle section of “Lose My Cool”? (Around 1:33 to 1:51)

AM: Yes! I call him Raju. I really wanted to incorporate that classical Indian singing. And initially I was going to do it. But I ended up wanted a male voice. So I found a sample library that had exactly what I was looking for.

On Visuals and Album Art

KB: Can you tell me more about the photo on the album art and the design choices? I read in another interview that the watch is actually the wrong way around.

AM: Haha yes, the watch is the wrong way around. That was accidental actually. But I’m really happy it is. I feel like it adds character. And knowing me, I would accidentally wear a watch the wrong way.

As for the artwork, I had my sister photograph me. I love working with her because we get each other like no one else does. She knows how I want things done sometimes better than I do. We really wanted to keep the theme of having flowers or plants in the imagery. And had a few ideas of how we would go about it but we ended up going with the very bare shot.

KB: I know a lot of the album was written in your bedroom. Are there decorations or belongings that you’re surrounded by in your bedroom that you think help you feel at home and write? Is there anything in particular that you would want to bring with you if you were to move out of that space?

AM: Yes, my mother’s paintings and her ashes. Incense.

On New Material

KB: Can you please tell us a bit about the topics your upcoming material will tackle?

AM: I talk quite a bit about new relationships in my life and finding love again.

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