The list of artists who start out in the
music business with both a lucrative recording contract and
creative control of their career is a short one indeed. The
major record labels generally demand that newly acquired acts
follow an archaic but proven formula for success that might
make them a superstar, but often at a hefty price that leaves
many artists feeling compromised and enslaved. But the rules
are different at independent labels like Tommy Boy Music,
and Dutch dance diva Amber is taking full advantage of her
artistic freedom with the release of her third studio album,
Naked. Clearly the album she has always wanted to make, this
stunning collection of 13 songs is an ambitious and emotional
effort that reveals a very personal side of Amber.
With writing credit on all but two of the tracks, this was
a pivotal project for Amber that helped her to evolve both
as a singer and songwriter while broadening the scope of her
repertoire. "Im pretty happy with this album,"
she says, "But Im always expanding; I never stop
expanding and becoming something else and making people wonder,
What is she up to? Im pushing the boundaries of dance
music with this album very clearly. Of course, I started out
with dance music which Im not leaving alone, but I guess
the difference is that Im taking it to another level
with more meaningful lyrics, with a depth to it that is overall
not very heard of in this genre. Thats why I called
it Naked, its Amber bearing her soul, and its
just really showing my diversity."
The first two singles, "Yes"
and "The Need To Be Naked," have already topped
the Billboard dance charts courtesy of remixes by industry
heavyweights like Hex Hector, Thunderpuss and Guido Osario.
Both songs are primed for Top 40 crossover, but that all depends
on radio airplay. Unfortunately, the major labels dominate
the airwaves leaving little room for music from the independents.
But Ambers overcome that inane hurdle before, most notably
in 1999 with another provocatively titled song, "Sexual."
With an impressive following of dedicated fans and prime media
coverage, including being featured as Billboards Artist
of the Day on August 20th as well as a cover story in the
August/September issue of DMA magazine, Amber is perfectly
poised to capture a much-deserved wider audience.
Commercial success aside, Ambers
music is firmly rooted on the dance floor and shes not
planning to change that anytime soon. While the mother of
an 11-year-old boy may not particularly enjoy hanging out
at nightclubs in her spare time ("Its just not
my usual environment."), she does know and appreciate
the importance of a good remix. Amber is hoping that Moby
will eventually lend his talents to one of her songs, but
touring conflicts have thus far kept that from becoming a
reality. Among the many prominent remixers who have already
taken turns reworking her records for maximum disco indulgence
are Junior Vasquez, Deep Dish and Hani, and Tommy Boy is currently
soliciting remixers for her next single, "Anyway (Men
Are From Mars)."
Like most of the songs Amber wrote for this album, "Anyway
(Men Are From Mars)" is an introspective and philosophical
portrayal of a significant event in her life. Rather than
dwell on the negative aspects of her recent divorce, Amber
sings about coming to terms with the separation from her husband
by learning to accept what has happened and moving forward
with a positive attitude. "The Smile of My Child"
is another deeply personal song Amber wrote with her mother.
"Its pretty much a declaration of love for my son,"
she explains. "Its done with a philharmonic orchestra
and piano played by my mom. Its a very emotional experience
to sing that song and really feel the depth of how much you
love your child. I think thats my all-time favorite."
The HBO series Sex and the City has featured several of Ambers
songs in its first two seasons. So when she heard that the
shows producers might be looking for a new theme song,
Amber quickly wrote the lyrics for "Sex & The City."
"I want this to be a really funky, straight-forward classical
disco song, and I want to add drama," she said to her
producer. They finished the songs music the very next
day and immediately sent it over to HBO. She hasnt heard
yet whether theyre going to use the song, but if they
do, Amber hopes to negotiate a deal that will include a guest
appearance on the show.
Ambers already made her big screen debut with a cameo
in the 1998 film 54 where she sang the soundtracks lead
single, "If You Could Read My Mind," along with
Jocelyn Enriquez and Ultra Naté. Her exceptional musical
talents have also led to other high-profile projects like
co-writing a song for Bette Midlers last album ("Bless
You Child"). Then Cher decided she wanted to cover Ambers
2000 hit "Love One Another" on her latest album
("It was really weird to hear Cher singing my song; I
was thrilled."), and Liza Minelli and David Gest invited
her to join the distinguished roster of performers at their
wedding reception. After attending Lizas bachelorette
party and the church wedding, Amber sang "Yes!"
for a star-studded audience that included Michael Jackson,
Liz Taylor, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross and countless others.
As her remarkable career continues to soar to new heights
while breaking down traditional mainstream boundaries, Amber
is becoming one of the most influential voices in the dance
music community today. Determined to remain true to the music
that launched her career, Amber is thankful for the opportunities
afforded her and for the continued support of her fans. "Ive
had pretty amazing success for a girl who started out in the
dance genre," she says. "And people still do not
understand just how big this genre is and how much of a following
we have." But at the end of the day, she doesnt
really measure success by how many records she sells. "I
think the main thing is to be positive," she suggests.
"If thats what you give, thats what you get
back. That is something I genuinely feel in my heart. Even
if I didnt make money at it, Id still make music."