I briefly caught up with rapper Amanda Blank yesterday afternoon to talk about the tour, her Philly roots, and some general dreams and aspirations. I’ll keep this short and sweet in saying that she really is one fly jawn with a friendly disposition, and I’m sad that I’ll be out of town for her show this weekend. YOU, however, should definitely check it out if you’re around. Here’s what she had to say:
BYT: So how are you?
AB: I’m good, thanks!
BYT: I was really excited to see you’ve got Maluca with you on this tour!
AB: Ohhhh she’s SO GOOD! She’s really great.
BYT: So how did you decide to get her on board for that?
AB: Well that’s just like my girl, we’ve just known each other for years. And then like a couple of years ago when I was on tour I had asked her to be my backup singer. So she was my backup singer for a while, and then she was doing her own thing, and I was super excited for her to do it. So we finally are in a place where we can do shows together. We’ve been talking about it for years, you know, like, “Oh, one day we’re gonna do our own shows together!”, you know?
BYT: Yeah, and now the dream is finally coming true!
AB: So when they asked me “Is there anybody you’d want to open up for you?” I was like, “Natalie! Natalie!” (laughs) Or, Maluca…her name is Natalie.
BYT: Yeah I’m super bummed I won’t be back in DC for the show! But come to Columbus!!!
AB: Oh no way! My band was just there and I almost went and flew in for the show but I couldn’t. I’m in a band called Sweatheart, and the guy that started the band, Tom, is from Columbus. So they play a lot of, or we play a lot of shows there.
BYT: Awesome, I’ll have to catch you guys next time.
AB: Yeahhh maybe you can do that.
BYT: So for the DC show, are there any songs that you’re particularly looking forward to performing live?
AB: God, what song do I really love to play live…you know, we change it up a bit, like the show and the sequences depending on whether or not we have our drummer Rufio. He drums in TheDeathSet and with Santigold and Ninjasonik, and he drums for me as well. So it always depends, but when he is there there’s this rap song I did with Dave Sitek and Eli Escobar that I LOVE! And I don’t really do it without him because I need a live drummer to do it. So when he’s there that’s always my favorite.
BYT: So do you think he’ll be there on Saturday or not so much?
AB: Umm, I don’t know if I can pull his arm enough! (laughs)
BYT: Now how did you get started rapping in the first place? I know you’re from Philly, so I’m sure there was the influence of that scene…
AB: Yeah I mean, I think I had just always listened to rap music, and I wrote them for fun, really. Like, I lived in this house, I was in this little two-man band with my friend, and he and I just did like, sad girl, even though he was a gay black dude, we did like, sad white girl songs. (laughs) And I would be making music with him, and just for fun I would write raps because I didn’t have any TV and I was just really poor. And I don’t know, Spank Rock just heard it and was like, “You need to do this for real!” And eventually I did!
BYT: That’s awesome! And so what was the Philly scene like back then for doing shows and all that?
AB: The Philly scene was dope! It was so fun! And that was another thing, I felt so free. It was very free to be you and me, anybody could do anything. I was doing this stuff with my friend, I was rapping with Spank Rock, I’m in this band called Sweatheart which is completely completely different from the other stuff. I was making art and doing art shows, Plastic Little was doing their thing, and all those boys are artists as well. Like, everybody just had their hand in so much, and it was just such a good time of creativity. You know, because there were so many cool people doing so many interesting things, and it was a really good time I feel like in Philly, and in New York as well…there’s a lot of crossover. And I don’t know…it’s changed a little bit, but it’s still really awesome and good in that way. I think a lot of people have a lot of Philly pride.
BYT: Speaking of Philly pride, you’re familiar with the word ‘jawn‘ I’m sure…it’s like, there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s, and there’s practically no wrong way to use ‘jawn’. So on that note, give me your best ‘jawn’ sentence.
AB: Well I always think it’s funny how boys use it…they’ll be like, “Yo, that’s my jawn right there! Not my main jawn, my side jawn.” Because being a main jawn and a side jawn are two different things. It’s like being the girlfriend and the mistress. But yeah I say it in my song, like “I’m a fly jawn” because you know, everything is a jawn. And it’s so funny because I remember I had a friend from the South that moved to Philly, and he was trying to figure out what a jawn is. And I was like, “Well, it’s anything really…like, can you pass me that jawn right there, or that’s my jawn, i’m trying to go to the jawn right now…it could be anything.” So he was like, “Okay, so if I have two dollars, then I could have two jawns?” And I was like, “Mmmm no.” (laughs) I was like, “It could be anything, it could be anything. No, it can’t be that, that doesn’t make sense.” People don’t use it as far as money is concerned. It’s weird, you kind of have to grow up with it to know when to use it.
BYT: Yeah, one of those kind of inherent things.
AB: Yeah, exactly.
BYT: Now, you’ve worked with so many people, is there any that sort of stands out…I mean, obviously you’ve probably enjoyed all of them…but is there any one that particularly stands out as your favorite collaboration?
AB: Well, one of definitely I think the most interesting was Dave Sitek, just because I didn’t really know him THAT that well, and I’m kind of used to working with my friends. And he and I come from pretty different worlds, or so I thought, because he’s like in TV on the Radio, and then I’m over here doing like, sappy white girl rapping. And I just thought, you know, this could go so many ways, but it was so much fun! And he’s a maniac in like, the best way I could use the word, you know, he’s so incredible. And he was just so fun and so crazy and I just loved him. But I just thought, you know, it really had the potential to not be great. I mean, you never know if you’re working with people and you don’t know each other or what the other’s about. But he really opened me up to a lot as far as my performance in the studio and writing and rapping. I really love that. But I mean, obviously I really really really adore everybody I made the album with because they’re all my friends, and they’re all so crazy talented…I feel so lucky. But yeah, that was kind of a peculiar situation, so that kind of sticks out a lot in my mind just because it was so different from the way I did the rest of the record.
BYT: Yeah, definitely. And how about remixes as well? Because I feel like every time I see your name pop up on Hype Machine anymore it’s always a remix instead of the original.
AB: I know, it’s like a thousand remixes. I feel like that’s just the way it is on the internet nowadays. Like people don’t want to hear the original, they want to hear a remix. (laughs)
BYT: I know!
AB: It’s just funny. I mean, yeah, there are tons of people that have remixed the songs that I wrote for the album. Like I love Blaqstarr, he’s always doing remixes for me and he’s like, the shit. But yeah, probably my favorite remix is one that Yuksek did.
BYT: Love love love Yuksek.
AB: I love it because it’s all disco-y, it’s really cute. I really really like that one. But as far as that stuff goes, I once did a remix with Eli Escobar for Britney Spears. It was like a ‘Gimme More’ remix, and that remix was really important, not because it was Britney Spears but because that’s how I became friends with Eli. And then he ended up working on the album, and now we make music together all the time. He’s like one of my best friends now, I talk to him every day. It’s just so funny how that happened, because I didn’t even really know him, and if we never had done that remix together we probably wouldn’t have worked together and we wouldn’t be friends. So I like that that happened. You know, just funny things like that.
BYT: Definitely. And as far as future plans go, do you have anybody that you would like, ideally want to work with?
AB: Well my dream collaborator is Andre 3000, and I’m wondering if I say it enough in interviews he’ll be like, “Oh, Amanda wants to work with me?” (laughs) I don’t think he has any idea who I am, but I do love him. And I’m kind of totally crazy obsessed with Nicky Minaj, so I’d love to do a song with her, cuz that’s my girl and she’s dope! (laughs) I think she’s such a good rapper. That’s kind of like my big dream, though, Andre. But I’m kind of like, you know, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Like, I would really like to keep working with Eli and Switch and Dave Sitek. I really just enjoy working with them.
BYT: Yeah, that’s a good crew for sure.
AB: And Nick Zinner, I would like to make a song with Nick Zinner. He’s my homie. He and I always talk about it, but it’d be fun.
BYT: So you’ve blown up pretty quickly, which is awesome, but what do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t pursuing a musical career?
AB: Girl, I don’t know. I think something probably in the arts, you know. I’ve just always been like that. Yeah, probably making art. But if I wasn’t doing an art thing, I don’t know, I’d say my other dream job would be…I think I’d be like a face painter at the zoo.
BYT: That’s a pretty sweet dream job!
AB: Yeah, I’d be at the zoo painting little kids’ faces. I think that’s what I’d like to do. I don’t know, I’m not good at anything else but those things. I can make a little kid look like a tiger, and I can write a rap song. And that’s like it. Yeah I don’t know. I don’t know what I’d be doing.
BYT: Well, luckily you don’t have to think about that!
AB: Yeah, thank god! (laughs) I think I’d be struggling. I’d be like one of those people going through a quarter life crisis and every week would be like a different career.
BYT: That’d be good, then you might get your own TV show or something you know?
AB: Yeah, yeah!
BYT: So what are your plans, where are you headed in the future?
AB: Well I mean I’ve been on tour around the world for the last nine months, so I’m trying to take a break from leaving the country for a little while. (laughs) I just got back from Australia so I’m like, just crazy because of all the touring. It’s kind of nice that this is sort of a more chill tour I’m doing. It’s not like every single day for months straight, which it has been for the last nine months. So I’m just trying to take it easy. I don’t know, I don’t know what’s going to happen. This should be an interesting year. I’m excited because I think the next single is “I Need Love” with Santi, so me and Santi get to make a videooo! I’m so excited, I was like, “Ooo girl, we gonna make a video!” I think it’s going to be really fun.
BYT: Yeah definitely! That’s really exciting. Well I would say ‘we’ are very excited to have you in DC but since I’m not there, everyone else is I know, so yeah, I wish you the best of luck!
AB: Well thank you, and hopefully I’ll see you if not in DC then I will see you maybe sometime in Columbus.
BYT: I hope so, and thanks again!