The dream started at the age of five when Amaru saw Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton perform live on television. Fueled by the musicality of his late grandmother, Amaru soon became fascinated by music. Singing around the house was part of his daily ‘routine’ as a youngster and while he was adamant that he was going to be a singer, his mother on the other hand was also adamant: “You’d better go to school and get a degree”, she said! And so he did, but when the family moved to Europe from South America, that’s when Amaru decided to pursue his true passion. It would take many years before his first musical release, but the table was set…!
He studied in Los Angeles and in Amsterdam and he has managed to build quite an acting resumé since 1996. From film, television and commercials to print ads and voice over work, Amaru has done it all but the music kept ‘calling’. In 2007 Amaru traveled to Chicago to work on an EP that generated the release of his debut single ‘Put Your Hands Up’ in 2008 and the accompanying music video. In 2014 Amaru decided to grab to bull by the horns and he went into the studio to work on some new music. The fruits of his labor generated the single ‘I’m The One You Need’. Amaru then decided to release his brand new single ‘The One‘ on 25 November 2015 to close the year with a bang!
- How long have you been in the music business and how did you get started in the first place?
AMARU: I started way back in 2007 when I traveled to Chicago (USA) to work on an EP that was intended to be shopped around for a deal. The experience in Chicago wasn’t a very good one for me, but as a result of that, I did manage to release my first single “Put Your Hands Up” and the accompanying music video, which was streamed on the music channel TMF (The Music Factory).
- Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
AMARU: My first musical influence was my late grandmother, who was a musician and singer at our church as well. She would always encourage me to sing with her after the Sunday morning service, as she was sitting behind her organ playing a traditional hymn or two 😉
- Which artists are you currently listening to?
AMARU: I’m a child of the 80’s so I listen to a lot of 80’s music. As far as current music I enjoy Sam Smith tremendously. Great talent!
- I’m intrigued by the fact that most articles about you always state “South-American born. We know that South America is filled with the most beautiful countries. Is there a specific reason you do not mention which country or city you come from?
AMARU: Well, there are articles in which I speak of my country in depth, lol 😉 I’m very proud of the fact that I was born and raised in the Republic of Suriname. My native country is not a very well-known country and when I started out, it was very difficult to explain to people where to find it on the map, so I figured I’m gonna remain an enigma then, lol! But you’re right, it is among one of the most beautiful South American countries!
- What is your relationship with visual media and websites like Youtube? Do you think being an actor gives you and extra edge in your videos?
AMARU: Being a trained actor definitely gives you that something extra and I think it’s a different way of performing. When you’re on stage singing a song, you’re also performing and the interaction with the audience is immediate. With film there’s that distance, you have to work a little harder to reach your audience, so to speak. I think both mediums complement each other perfectly.
- Which do you ultimately prefer? Entertaining a live audience or creating songs in a studio environment?
AMARU: Performing live of course 😉 I mean, these days anybody can sing in a studio, but it’s when you perform live when your audience can see and hear if you can cut the mustard… you know…!
- Do you write your own lyrics and the music too or do you collaborate with others?
AMARU: I write and compose all of my songs myself. It most of the time starts with a melody, which I sing a couple of times, memorize and record on my cellphone. Then I make a very basic demo on my computer and take that to a producer. We then work together to end up with a track that hopefully comes close to what I had in mind initially.
- Why did you choose Chicago to record your debut single and EP in 2008? And how come you have such long breaks between releases?
AMARU: A friend of mine in Los Angeles was managing a couple of very popular stand-up comedians and she suggested a producer friend of hers in Chicago. That’s how that came about. The reason I didn’t release any music in between is because I was still booking many acting gigs, for some of which I had to travel abroad. But finally in 2014 I said “okay, back to the music” and that generated my US-number one single “I’m The One You Need”.
- Which ingredient do you think makes you special and unique as a performing artist in a whirlpool thriving with newcomers and wannabes?
AMARU: Actually, a couple, I’d like to think. I don’t look or sound like everybody else, I march to my own drum and follow my heart. I’m not in competition with anybody, you see. I do what I do and work hard and hopefully along the way I will touch the hearts of a couple of people.
- Is ‘Amaru’ actually your real name or is it an artistic moniker?
AMARU: Yes, AMARU is my real name. It’s actually a very common name in South America and in fact the last emperor of the Inca people in Peru was named Tupac Amaru, so…
- Which aspect of being a music artist and actor excites you most and which aspect of being in the entertainment business discourages you most?
AMARU: For both singing and acting I like the performance aspect, the interaction with your audience, creating something, be it a musical composition or a character. What I dislike most is the fact that there are too many people who are out to take advantage of you and when you call them on their sh***, they turn against you. That’s why I encourage newcomers to study and learn about the BUSINESS aspect of show business before signing or agreeing to anything.
- How do you market and manage your music career? Do you have a management team to do everything for you or do you control everything by yourself?
AMARU: I’m an independent artist in the broad sense of the world. I tried many times to find management, to no avail (because “we don’t know how to market you”). At one point I decided that I was gonna be my own manager and I have been doing things on my own ever since. In addition to that, I utilize the internet to the max, because there’s a lot of information to be found online. Maybe as my career grows I’ll need a team and maybe then I’ll have more success in putting together a team or finding proper management.
- Has winning the Akademia Music Awards made any impact on you or your career in any way?
AMARU: Well, as far as exposure for my music it has done quite a lot, I’d say. But it’s not like labels or booking agents are banging on my door or anything, lol 😉
- The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
AMARU: I spoke on some of that earlier. Learning as much of the business as you possibly can. Writing your own lyrics is another thing that I think is key. I’m not saying I know everything, because there’s always room for growth and as I progress, I expand my knowledge, so…
- On first waking up an opening your eyes in the morning, do you feel like a singer or an actor at heart?
AMARU: As a child I knew that I wanted to become a professional singer. Later on in life, as a teenager, I discovered that acting was also going to be part of my creative life, so I went to Los Angeles (USA) to study. But when I wake up every morning, I do identify with the singer most.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and music in general today?
AMARU: The arrival of digital music hasn’t really done much good for artists, I find. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be able to purchase your music at any given time of day, but with that also comes a lot more vigilance. The illegal distribution of ones work is a major problem for any artist, especially the independent ones and newcomers. People don’t rush to the store anymore to buy records, you know. But on the other hand you have to make the most of the situation. The power of social media cannot be underestimated, because your work can become a hit overnight. What I’m not interested in, is to be here today and gone tomorrow and with many “viral” videos or songs, that’s what happens most of the time. So in conclusion I’ll say that social media definitely helps to boost my online presence, but as far as my sales… I’m not too sure.
- Which so far, for you, have been the absolute highlights in your musical and also your acting career?
AMARU: One of my absolute highlights as an actor are two animated films about AIDS education and prevention. These films were intended for the African and Asian market and they were very successful. I voiced the lead character, Bobo, a young African boy with HIV. Part one was such a tremendous success that even Sir Richard Branson had a hand in financing the sequel, which was another success. The films are done in such a playful yet very easy way to understand, not just by kids but adults too. Musically I’ll say that a definite highlight was when I held the master tape of my first video “Put Your Hands Up” in my hands, ready to mail it to MTV Networks in Amsterdam. I felt like an actual recording artist, LOL! Another highlight was when I held the first copy of my CD-single “I’m The One You Need” in my hands, fresh off of the record factory… to see your design come to life… And of course the release of my brand new video form y new single “The One”, which was released on 25 November 2015. Good times!
- Of all the things you’ve done until now, artistically speaking, is there any one of these that you would do differently today if you were given the chance to go back and do it again?
AMARU: I believe that things are supposed to happen the way they should happen and what’s for you, will be for you. But every now and again I do look back and wonder what the heck I was thinking. I’ll give you an example. True story, lol… 😉 My very first ever audition was for a very popular singer and of course I was a super fan. She was at the audition, completely in disguise. I was okay, no nerves, nothing. Until it was my turn and she stood up and her scarf fell on the ground. I lost all composure and I sang horribly off key, I can still hear it as we speak, lol 😉 And the nerve of me to call days after to see if I’d gotten the part of “backing singer for Ruth Jacott”. The answer was a resounding “NO”… and rightfully so, LOL! But as I said, that had to happen to prepare me for where I am now 😉
As you work your way through your musical career, which more than any other fires-up your imagination – A Grammy award, Platinum music sales, an Oscar or some other tangible milestone?
AMARU: First of all I wanna become a great singer and actor. I’d like to think that I’m on my way and even though awards are not everything, it is definitely rewarding to have either one of those awards on your mantle. To be a Grammy winner or an Oscar winner… I’m not gonna lie, those are high on my list of prospective awards to win 😉 It’s kind of like that icing on your artistic cake, to receive the recognition of your peers (and/or the public, depending on the award).
- What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do EVER, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career?
AMARU: What I’m definitely not interested in is signing away my life to a big corporation. I’m interested in a record deal by one of the big guys, but it has to be a deal that’s gonna benefit BOTH of us EQUALLY, you know… I see a lot of very good singers and performers disappear from the scene after one or two hit records. I think every artist wants longevity in their career and that’s when good planning, good budgeting and good agreements come into play.