Local Artist of the Week: Amanda Sum

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and chat with Amanda Sum. A local Vancouver singer, songwriter, and theatre performer. She shared her insights on how she started singing and where she finds her inspiration. Amanda writes all about identity, being a woman, and being young in a big city. Read more to learn about this beautiful soul and make sure to check out her music on Spotify and Apple Music. 

Introduce yourself/What you do

“I’m Amanda Sum and I work both in theatre and music and between the two.”

How did you get into music/start taking it seriously?

“I grew up with piano lessons and was in band and choir in elementary school and high school so it was always a hobby. In grade 10 I taught myself guitar to kinda accompany myself because I didn’t know what to do with my hands when I was singing. I had an aversion to piano at that time which is kinda funny because I now play keys over guitar, but I learned how to play guitar and started posting covers on YouTube. At that time I was learning more about the folky part of my voice and it was just a hobby at that time. After high school I went into theatre and theatre creation. At the end of my degree, I knew that I wanted to be creating something that melded theatre and music together which I am lucky enough to be doing now. At that time I thought I needed to put time into making music too and honing in on those skills. Then I started writing grants to be able to start recording music. Since 2019, I have been on the music train and more in the theatre and acting realm, and now I am making my own theatre music project.”

Where do you draw your inspiration from? What is your favourite genre of music to listen to?

“I draw my inspiration, lyrically kinda though identity experiences. Whether thats though being young, a women, or a person of colour or a meld of all three and how that identity walks through the world. Sometimes these songs are more poignantly pointed at these things or briefly touches on it, but I like to think about my place in the world and the systems reflect my experiences whether I am pushing against it or falling into similar rhythms.

Genre wise, I like to listen to jazz pop or like funk pop, or neo-soul, which is not necessarily the genre of music that I write but I like listening to it.”

How would you describe music that you typically create?

“I would describe it as playful and witty but thoughtful…hopefully. Reflective and contemplative all encapsulated in a indie-poppy container.”

If you have ever encountered writers block how did you overcome it or get out of that creative rut?

“I typically don’t just sit down and write a song today, so I never really feel like I’m blocked out and can’t think of anything at that time cause I’ll only sit down and tinker if I feel something. If I’m out for a walk and come up with something then I’ll write it down to remember it but I’m never just sitting at the piano like “what song can I write??” I do find that when I am trying to flesh out a song and I’m feeling stuck, the best remedy for me is to take break from it. I have had a bunch of songs that I have little sections and then I never know what to do with it and then I’ll remember it a few years later and that melody fits in here but I’ll have to change the lyrics to fit better in to this song or whatever. For example, the lyric “who’s gonna cross the line” from my song Groupthink was written two years before I wrote that song. 

All of my thoughts come back around and I’ll document things and use voice notes. Often I’ll forget about the lyrics and they’ll come back around and perfectly align themselves. It’s kinda cool.” 

Do you produce everything yourself?

“I have a team of amazing women. I really wanted to prioritize having an all female team just to counter the things that we know to be successful in this really fast paced industry. So I’ll arrange all the material and then in the studio I work with my producer; Emily Millard. She takes everything in and tells us which take is the best because I cant’t listen to myself doing it which also really aligns with theatre work and when I’m in it I can’t direct it and be in it at the same time as much as my ego would like. I will always need an outside ear or view of someone that I really trust and align with so that they can be my ear out there. I have a band of all Asian women which feels really cool and aligned with the work that I am making. To be able to reflect what it’s saying with the people playing it feels right and really good.”

Do you have any upcoming shows?

“I am just doing little house concerts and then leaving Vancouver to tour with a theatre show. The new album will be out in September so I am working on playing some shows around the release of that, but any updates can be found on my website or Instagram.

Thank you so much to Amanda for sitting down with me and taking the time to tell me about your story. It was amazing to hear your motivational words and how you started in the music industry. Check out her latest music video below and her Youtube Channel.

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