Q: Hi there! Absolutely love “Carefully Yours”; I love the point of view aspect and how we as listeners, get to hear both sides of a somewhat toxic love story. Did any real-life events inspire this track?
AMII DAWES: The lyrics in my verse and chorus are somewhat inspired by real moments in my life when I have not had much confidence and the idea of someone loving me for who I am seemed impossible. Happy to say they were only fleeting moments for me but they inspired this song nonetheless.
STEPHEN: It’s certainly a troubled love story, but I’m not sure it’s toxic. For me, it’s about wanting to give yourself to someone but finding the vulnerability of it too hard to handle, regardless of the way the other person sees you. Both sides of the story, though not direct accounts, have personal connections for me. I can relate strongly to not ‘letting people in’ as well as longing for someone else to ‘let me in’. I feel like the two characters love each other but at the same time, they don’t know how to.
Q: Can you walk me a little through the writing process for “Carefully Yours”? Did you and Stephen write your lyrics separately, did you write together, etc.
AMII DAWES: Stephen had written the guitar part for this song a long long time ago and had put it on the back burner and worked on other projects as he couldn’t find the right lyric/melody to accompany it. I had a listen and, probably because I was coming at it with a fresh pair of ears, was able to create the basis for the first verse and chorus pretty quickly. Stephen loved the direction it was going in and he was then able to contribute a second verse and chorus to compliment mine and the song became what it is now pretty fast. We wrote all the parts separately though, we didn’t record anything in the same room as each other until adding the strings towards the end of the process. STEPHEN: Amii set the scene and tone immediately and I believe the initial intention was that it would be a one-sided account of someone’s emotional struggle. Hearing it for the first time made me immediately conscious of what felt like a necessary reply, so really, the parts were written very separately but I feel like there was an understanding, between Amii and I, of the way the song progressed. We never once disagreed on the direction it was heading.
Q: I’m always interested in an artist’s musical journey; did you grow up with a musical family/do you remember what or who first made you fall in love with it?
AMII DAWES: None of my family growing up played music themselves but there was always music on in the house. My parents and grandparents had very varied musical tastes to one another too so I was constantly being exposed to different artists from all sorts of genres and time periods which I think really helped to open my mind of what effects different styles can have. The first person that I can remember introducing me to music in a way that really changed my life was my grandad who introduced me to The Beatles at a very young age, although it seems very cliche to say but that did have a profound effect on me.
STEPHEN: Music was an enormous part of my childhood and my parents were both enormously encouraging of my musical pursuits. There was always music playing in my house and though I lost both parents many years ago, music has always felt like a connection that keeps them around. I carry passions from both of their musical tastes with me and always will.
Q: If you could only listen to three albums for the rest of your life, what would they be?
AMII DAWES: My answer to this question changes a lot based on what’s going on in my life at the time but the one constant is always Blue by Joni Mitchell. Right now I would have to add Medusa by Annie Lennox and Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morrisette to the list.
STEPHEN: Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Jason Isbell – Southeastern
Ryan Adams – Gold
Q: What was your favorite part in creating “Carefully Yours”?
AMII DAWES: When Stephen sent over his first vocal take for me to mix and I played it alongside my own vocals. The first time I heard those harmonies together I was taken aback by how wonderful it sounded and I knew we were onto something really special.
STEPHEN: The moment I heard Amii’s first rough vocal idea over my rough guitar track is my favourite part, and a moment I will never forget. I wrote the guitar part over a decade ago and could never settle on any lyrics or melodies I liked. Amii brought it to life within two hours of hearing it and utterly blew me away. I wouldn’t have entrusted this music to anyone else and hearing that demo for the first time made me know that however long that song remained unwritten, it was worth it, because it was always waiting for Amii.
Q: Your vocals and range are amazing, and I admire how you can tell a story with music; who are your biggest musical inspirations?
AMII DAWES: Joni Mitchell is my biggest musical influence. Not only is she one of the most brilliant lyricists but she has a way of combining and switching genres so effortlessly without compromising her integrity as a writer. I never get bored of listening to her.
STEPHEN: My biggest inspirations are Jason Isbell, Ryan Adams, Bon Iver, Bob Dylan and John Fullbright amongst many others. Anyone who can lyrically bruise me.
Q: What was the best advice about the music industry you’ve received, and how has it helped you navigate your journey thus far?
AMII DAWES: “There are only two genres of music: Good music and bad music”. I can’t remember who I first heard say that but it really stuck with me. As long as I aim to fall into the former genre then everything else kind of doesn’t matter.
STEPHEN: Be true to who you are and what you’re about. That way, the truth seeps into your music and the listener is carried along with something real.
Q: Thanks so much for talking with me! 🙂 Tell everyone what’s coming up next for you, any exciting projects in the works, shows, etc.
AMII DAWES: Working with Stephen has really opened up the gates for me in terms of collaboration. Working on Carefully Yours was such a fantastic experience that I’ve started collaborating with a few other artists in a lot of different genres. The plan is to start releasing some of those collaborations over the next few months which is very exciting!
I’m also starting work on a new EP in the new year which I’m incredibly excited about.
STEPHEN: 2023 will bring a sea of new music from me. I have written and part-recorded my third album and the first single from that will be out early in the year with the full album out in the Summer. I have a number of collaborations in the pipeline as well, some breaking me out of my comfort zone so I look forward to that. I also very much hope to make more music with Amii.
Interviewed by Melissa Cusano
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