Richard Amp of AMP

Richard Amp of AMP

 by Brent

How did the members of Amp get their start in music?

I started messing around with an old piano at home from about the age of 9. It was in an un- heated back room of a shop that my parents ran. Inspired by what I heard on the radio from the likes of the John Peel show…I was keen to explore this audio world. I started teaching myself the piano and music in general, messing around with cassette recorders, recording imaginary radio plays with sound effects, spurred on by my first vinyl purchase, a BBC sound effects compilation.

Karine has always sang from time to time, back in France, just for fun, it planted a seed and when she was asked to do vocals for Amp she didn’t hesitate to say yes.

How did Amp form?

Amp initially formed as a vehicle for Richard to illustrate with music, a visual narrative that he developed whilst studying at the Royal College of Art. After a 2 year hiatus in the wilderness Richard met Karine in London. Soon after, upon hearing the recording ‘GreenSky BlueTree,’ Karine was inspired to take up vocal duties, and with sonic help from Matt & Matt from Bristol, the first 7” single was made and released on Matt Elliot’s label, Linda’s Strange Vacation records.  The muse and voice of Karine really galvanised the project into Amp as it is known today.

Are there any artists that really inspired Amp to make the music that they do?

No, not really….but these are some of the many artists and ideas that inspired us to be artists ourselves. Soft Machine, Faust, Serge Gainsbourg, John Coltrane, early Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Nick Drake, Jacques Brel, Baudelaire, Rousseau, Eric Sati, the punk rock ethic, Existentialism, Beckett and the Situationist manifesto in general.

How did the famed Bristolian music scene (Amp, Flying Saucer Attack, Third Eye Foundation etc…) emerge and what part did Amp play in that scene?

One could say this scene emerged out of all the participants contact with a cool indie record shop called Revolver in Bristol (no longer in existence) Dave Pearce (FSA) worked there as well as Matt Elliot and co… Planet Records who released Crescent and Movietone were based in the back room. Amp mainly watched and was really a satellite attached to that scene… borrowing the guys for recording at times, playing the odd gig together and just hanging out…

How would you describe Amp’s general approach to music? Does the band have philosophy that guides your art?

There is a little manifesto/ a ‘raison d’etre’ in the sleeve notes to ‘All of yesterday tomorrow’… One could say we are looking for and to express a freedom. Looking to create entities (ie. sound  music and images) that inspire us and hopefully others, to continue to create and to search for whatever we lack while we strive to be free and sentient beings.

How does Amp compose its music?

There is no one method or process for Amp. Amp tries to do justice to the sounds and broken half melodies that can be discerned from dreams or realities, be it a melody caught upon a breeze or the sound of machine hums or grinds to the feedback of a guitar. Amp searches for the unfiltered moment and tries to reflect these with some sense of humility.

How do you feel about your past releases as Amp? What are some of the highlights in the history of Amp’s record output?

We love and stand by them all… although we don’t listen often (if at all)…

Every release is a highlight, for us… a triumph of hope and faith over adversity. But to give a smallish list: for me, it is possibly the ‘Sunflower” cd single with its perfect petal packaging…‘L’Amour Invisble’, this song is much admired by Donald and Karine loves ‘Tango Non’ on the Stenorette album.

What made you decide to open the vaults with the release of ‘All of yesterday tomorrow’?

The RROOPP label asked us about the idea of doing this release and we were flattered but felt initially doubtful that we could worthily fill 3cds. After cracking open the seals and having a look we thought “why not”? We dug out 7cds of material for consideration, so felt confident we could make a 3xcd set work in a listenable fashion. Also having this release, as a marker post after 15 years of activity or so, seemed like a valid project idea.

How has the music world changed or stayed the same since Amp has been together as a unit?

Well, the internet has changed everything and yet nothing has really changed… the big major labels still rule and the underground is forever squeezed. After all, It is still the same old retro-self obsessed world spiralling itself into oblivion.

If you could recommend 5cds to our readers, which one would you recommend and why? It is difficult to choose just 5cds, it may well be a different list tomorrow or yesterday, but here it goes…

My Bloody Valentine Loveless – I used to work for Creation Records doing Sleeve design/photos at the time, and MBV just blew me away, it has a great mix of reverb, samples and guitars… pure genius.

The Stooges The Stooges –  Totally 100% proof punk panache and raw sonic energy.

Talk Talk – Spirit of Eden – this is such a great cathartic record, put this on and you feel absolved of all your sins.

King Crimson In the Court of Crimson King Serious dynamics and mellotron action and 21st century schizoid man is prophetic and still pertinent to our crazy today.

Flying Saucer attack – Further a great sleeve (though I say it myself)….and Dave certainly knows how to make feedback sing. It turns lofi into hifi and shimmers beautifully.

What advice would you give to a young band/ artist just starting out?

I guess it helps to be inspired by something real. Don’t follow fads or fashions, be true to yourself. Then maybe you won’t cringe when you look back on what you have done 20 years later…

Oh and never give up hope!

What’s in the future for Amp?

We are working on a Christmassy tune for a Mind Expansion Records compilation… We have just finished doing a cover of a ‘His Name is Alive’ track ‘Summer of E.S.P.’ for a Seattle based label, Kenedik. We are also looking for label partners for our next ‘tranche’ of recordings and searching a way of getting over to the States to play… which is something we have always hoped for and will happen one day (touch wood)!

Any other comments?

Peace and Love

It will all work out well in the end…

…Lets hope so anyway!

Richard Amp

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