You can’t spell the word amazing without spelling Ama.
One of the most exciting, sonically wide-armed and technically skilled DJs to emerge in the UK in recent years, the Herts-raised/Bournemouth-based DJ has been on a mission, grafting away at her sound and her game for many years and it’s paying off in a big way.
Resident for House Of Hifi and Enter Drumfunk, Ama’s musical history goes back to her teens playing in electronic-influenced rock bands and making IDM music for space documentaries and her range and selection depth as a DJ reflects that.
With a sound and vibe that can stretch from 92 – 2022, from jump-up to liquid, Ama wears her raver roots on her sleeve as she rinses across the subgenre spectrum. In her own words, she plays what she loves, what the dancefloor loves and always makes sure everyone has a party.
Currently enjoying her busiest summer to date – including four sets at Reading & Leeds this weekend and a recent annoucement that she’ll be part of Clipz‘s line-ups at his highly anticipated XOYO residency in September – Ama’s vast range and energy can be felt across her most recent two mixes…
Earlier this month she graced the awesome Sun And Bass podcast hall of fame with this beautiful deep and soulful mix. Now time for the flip side as she goes IN on this full-impact, diesel powered adventure that celebrates the roots, the future and the powerful art of surprise. 55 tracks in 55 minutes… This mix is absolutely flaming with intensity.
Enjoy and get acquainted as 1 More Thing discusses the art of DJing and the never ending twists and turns any rising talent can experience along their journey.
Thank you! It’s a mix of things I’ve been loving at the moment and some of my all-time favourites. I recently did a liquid, kinda vibey chilled-out mix for Sun And Bass so I wanted to follow it up with a full energy mix that catches where I’m at right now.
Representing the full 360 of Ama!
Yeah. I really do love it all. It’s hard to play everything you love in one set. It’s nice to be able to do different mixes and show different sides to who you are.
I call it the Marky style. Expect the unexpected.
Totally! That’s what I try to do. It’s not always possible because you run out of time to play all the tunes I want to play, but I always try and educate the crowd, show them what I love, give them what they love and have a bit of a party with it.
When I got into things it was different to now – the line-up would be organised by the vibe of the DJ. A liquid DJ would be on first, the last set would be full-on hard and you’re taken on a journey throughout the night. Now things have changed and the headliner goes on at 1 or 2 and the warm up DJ could be quite high energy.
What are your thoughts on DJs having to keep it mellow in warm-up mode? I love Codebreaker’s comments on the matter about how MCs wouldn’t do the same thing…
It’s different with MCs because they’re there to hype people up, right? No one wants a wishy-washy MC who doesn’t engage with, or hype up, the crowd. A DJ is different. I’ve talked to a lot of people about this and respect everyone’s point of view.
I know DJs who go in hard to show the promoters what they really play so they’ll get booked for a later slot in the future. But if you’ve got a promoter who wants to flow the night out and make sure the ravers haven’t lost their energy by peak time then it doesn’t show a successful night. I actually sometimes love the opening set because I can play things I couldn’t play at 2 or 3am.
But then on the flip of that I’ve had one time where I was really feeling a lot of liquid around at the time and tried to warm up the crowd with a liquid set but it was like a classic school disco – people all around the dancefloor. I switched it up, played something harder and bouncy and everyone was on the floor. So every case is different. And I know promoters who haven’t booked a DJ again because they went in too hard for a warm up. It’s a really complex situation. For me, though, I really do love it all and want to play everything. So if I’m booked for any time slot then I will find the right music to play for that situation and occasion.
True DJ craft! What’s your favourite type of challenge to rise to?
The last set for me is the most challenging. I played fabric last year in room two. Hype was in main room. It was a tough one and I couldn’t win the dancefloor over. I got harder and harder but the crowd got thinner and thinner
Then last week I played the same slot at fabric but in the main room. I was playing after Chimpo, he always slams it down and I was freaking out. But I got on and people were really receptive. I kept a bigger crowd than I thought I would.
Wicked. Your job is to keep people from going home in that last slot isn’t it?
Yeah! When I was first DJing and I had the last set, I’d think, ‘Okay – keep them on the floor with neuro.’ I’d go in so hard, but I’d get to the point where it was too hard for me! I’d be thinking, ‘Surely this isn’t what people need to hear?’ I’d leave the club myself if I was a raver.
Then just before lockdown I tested out a similar set to what I’d do at 2am. More bouncy and energetic. I still kept the peaks and troughs but more people stayed on the dancefloor. It’s interesting what you learn along the way and for me I always tap back into being a raver. Being on the dancefloor and feeling the tunes and soaking it all up. You don’t get that privilege when you’re DJing. It’s good to go back to the dancefloor and really feel the music.
Totally! The best DJs come from raving!
I feel like I am raving when I’m DJing. I’ll close my eyes and I’m back on the floor and my hands are clapping and my hair is flying everywhere. I look at the video after and it’s like, ‘Jeez! I’m going mental there!’ I love it.
When was the last last time you raved?
Last year at Warehouse Project was a big one and Kate Katalyst and I went to DNB Allstars at Tobacco Dock and had a vibe there too. It was before festival season kicked off and it was sick to go out and let our hair down and go crazy. At Warehouse Project I was like a kid in a candy store. I felt like I was 16 again. I hope I can take some friends to Sundance and make a day of it. It’s long overdue.
The reality of reaching the DJ dream… It’s no longer possible to rave quite as often!
Kate and I talk about this a lot. This ain’t no walk in the park! I’m pretty much sober all the time now. Maybe a drink or two but that’s it. I’m not a big drinker anyway but it’s definitely a case of always being professional, even when you’re being a punter you want to be professional. This is a gift, not everyone gets the opportunity to do this so when these opportunities come along you’ve got to give it everything. But I’ll never forget those roots and how I got into this. Some artists come from a very different starting point and don’t rave before they blow up. It must be a mad contrast for people.
I interviewed Deadmau5 when he first came through. He’s a studio guy and had never been a raver and I remember him saying how he couldn’t relate to the people in the crowd and how he wouldn’t want to be in the crowd himself.
Wow. I do feel like with a lot of those super big crowds that, even though it’s amazing to have that energy coming in your direction, you’re so far removed to what’s actually happening. It’s beyond surreal. With drum & bass you’re usually playing in a pretty grimy room on different level – you can relate to each other and you’re close to each other. You can vibe with a crowd and be part of that energy.
I remember someone saying to me at the start of their journey they didn’t want to play small shows and just wanted to play the big ones. But I told them they shouldn’t snub the smaller show because those are the ones they will miss. Those promoters and ravers will remember you, how you vibed with them and how special that night was. When you’re on a big line-up, you’re a small grape on a big old bunch and it’s hard to stand out. Play those intimate nights and people will remember you.
Yeah! And then they feel part of your journey!
Yeah it’s part of the journey for sure. A few people came through in the lockdown and it was like a fantasy. Like this idea that you can get on the decks in your living room and you can make a breakthrough to the big time. It’s not like that though normally is it? Promoters are taking a risk in you, they’re investing in you and they’re definitely part of your journey. It’s why I love smaller shows. As a DJ I want to help them grow and support them because we grow together.
The long game!
It really is! But also the fast game because I can’t believe how quickly the last five years have gone for me. If someone told me how busy I’d be right now I’d literally be like, ‘No way. It’s going to be a much slower process, even if I break through at all.’ It’s funny though, I’ve played amazing shows but I don’t feel like I’ve really taken off. You compare yourself when you shouldn’t, don’t you? You see someone smashing things and think, ‘They’re smashing it! Why aren’t I?’
It’s all perception isn’t it though? And what I think is very exciting about your career is that you are a musician and can produce but you’re invested in the art of DJing which has helped to increase the value of the artform. No one broke through as a DJ for years. That’s not the case any more.
Well that’s cool to hear but for me, I feel like I do need to bring music. It’s interesting. When I was thinking about what I was doing, and how I should go about it, I saw Indika coming through and thought, ‘Yeah! She’s breaking through as a DJ and she’s putting her name out there without releasing music.’
But I still do feel like you need to be making music. For me I didn’t want to be in a situation where I was making tunes but didn’t have a platform to get them out on, have the peers I could send them to or be in the situation where I could play them. But now I feel like I should have made music before I got to this level because everything I make isn’t matching up to the level I want it to. Digital said the same thing when I played him some of my beats. He said, ‘They’re nice tunes but they don’t reflect how I play as a DJ and the energy I have on stage.’ I’ve tested my tunes out and it doesn’t give me the reaction I want from the crowd.
Surely that’s only a matter of time?
Of course! But I want my debut to be the sickest thing I can possibly put out at the time. Like Lens. Her debut is so sick. That’s a good bit of work that. I love how she hibernated in the studio and grafted until she could get to that level of production.
It’s the only way! I interviewed Indika when she blew up and she said that massive artists were offering to ghost produce for her but she wouldn’t do it. I respected that.
Yeah for sure. Because when you do start getting good at music your tunes won’t sound anything like the tunes your ghost producer made for you
So you’re busted!
Exactly! Although I don’t mind sitting in with someone with more experience and learning from them.
Oh massively. When you mentioned Digital I can hear his voice saying that feedback. I can imagine the detail he’d go into with his honesty. That’s different again isn’t it. Like one-to-one tutoring and learning from peers.
Definitely. I’m so grateful I have people like that around me. I found it so mad how sound he was when I first sat with him. He was very honest but very helpful. That’s priceless. Not everyone is honest with their feedback. Some people will tell you it’s great when it could be better. Some people might give you the wrong guidance for other reasons, but to work with honest people like Steve and know when you’re on the right track is amazing. So yeah… Tunes will come but I’m not in any hurry either.
And you’re juggling all this with your day job!
For now yeah! I’ve actually tried quitting my day job twice now but my manager won’t let me! They’re really supportive though. It’s a very intense balance sometimes and there are points where I feel I’m not giving my work or my DJing my all, which can be frustrating and upsetting. But I’m going to see how things are in the winter with bookings and take it from there. It would be a dream to work 100% in music but, like everything we’ve spoken about, that won’t be easy and will come with other challenges. So for now I’m just appreciating everything and working as hard as I can.
I know you’ll work it all out and smash it!
I hope so. I’ve got some wicked ideas that I’d like to incorporate into my music, so we’ll see it how it goes. I’ll keep you posted!
1 More Mix 007 : Ama – Tracklist
Kill Any Sound feet Natty Campbell – mozey, Natty Campbell
Thugged Out Bitch – Dilinja
Sharks – Benny L & Shimon
Earth & Mars – Anile
Snakes – Substance & T Man
Spice – Halogenix
Show Me – Jubei & dBridge
Instances – Ben Soundscape
Jazz Tickles – Voltage & Nicky Blackmarket
Turbulence – Moving Fusion
Azide & Scout – think about me
Squash (Break Remix) – Total Science
Release My Anger – Armodine
Transition – AC13 & Eazy
Tell You What I Did ft Zitah – Pola & Bryson
Up All Night – John B
Motion Blur (DLR Remix) – Noisia
Beyond The Heavens – SyRan
Go (S.P.Y Remix) – Delilah
It Could Be – Alibi
Love The Way – Lally x Lens
True Romance ft Vegas – dBridge
Realm (Upgrade Remix) – The Upbeats
ESP – Black Sun Empire & State of Mind
Welcome to The Future – Alibi & Command Strange
Out Of The Gate – Watch The Ride
It’s Time – Gene Farris, Sun Focus
Peninsula (Spectrasoul Remix) – Ivy Lab
Kill Dem – Breakage
Hackney Parrot (Sl8r Bootleg) – Tessela
Christian Dubstep – Yaano
Wolfpack 06 – Napes
Never get enough – Phibes
Talk box – Dj Fresh
IDK – Yaano
Connection – Skantia X Bladerunner
Dragonforce – Halogenix
Dun Kno – 1991
Rattler – Cesco
Upside Down – Phibes
Dancing In The Dark – DJ Fresh & Buunshin
You Got Me – Kings Of The Rollers
Masters Of The Universe – Original Sun
Most Uplifting (Bladerunner Remix) – DJ Ham
Tell Me – Submotive & Krakota
Signs – (Calibre Mix) – Badmarsh & Shri
Atlantis (Marky & S.P.Y 12 Rework) – LTJ Bukem
Hear Me – Mefjus
Neverafter – Justin Hawkes
Jungle Jungle – Total Science
Wheels of Steel – S.P.Y
Firestarter – (Andy C Remix) – The Prodigy
Deaddail – Spirit & Digital
Tap Ho – TC
Boom – Andy C
Power your creative ideas with pixel-perfect design and cutting-edge technology. Create your beautiful website with Zeen now.