Steve Kinrade spoke to Ambro River, about his musical style, influences, brand and what’s to come for the musician in the coming months.

Liverpool Noise: Congratulations on the four releases so far in 2021, recent world events don’t seem to have blunted your creativity. To these ears, there seems to be wide ranging influences….Who are your influences? 

Ambro River: Thanks, no you’re right, if anything it’s only enhanced my creative output. Ambro River was formed during the first lockdown. Although I’ve recorded and released music in other bands and under other names, I have never been happy with any of it, nor have I ever seen it as a true representation of who I am as a person or what I have to say. The lockdown and world events, as you say, only encouraged me to see my life as a blank canvas, a reset button, and an opportunity to start again. I thought to myself, I want to make music that makes me feel young and alive, and also to make music that I would enjoy listening to had I not made it myself. I listen to all kinds of stuff, although these days I tend to gravitate towards heavier and darker music, but at the same time melody is key amongst all that. 

LN: Can you share your creative process? Music or lyrics first, or a combination of both? 

AR: My creative process varies these days and I will take a different approach on every song I write. I have different combinations in my head as to what I can do and what options I have creatively to help trigger ideas and inspiration. I definitely think writing without instruments is a great idea. I find personally it opens up the creative net. Sometimes an instrument can stifle you, especially if you have been writing a long time. I really try not to overthink the process so much now. Although I will often have a song title and an image that excites me, I try and use that initial spark of inspiration to complete it. 

LN: Did you use an external studio, or was recording self contained? 

AR: Initially the idea was to record everything myself, but when I played the demos to the band, it was decided the songs should be performed and recorded live, with minimum overdubs as it suited the music and direction I wanted to go in. Alien Sound Recording Studios is where we chose to track everything. It’s a great little studio in a converted barn in a lovely little country village. Just prior to this, I went up there on my own for a meeting with producer Mark Wainwright, who owns and runs the studio himself. I discussed with him my direction, and we found through our discussions that we loved and were passionate about a lot of the same music.

LN: I really like the way you have approached the production elements of each song, the close harmonies and the sonic structures that are paced around the compositions. Who are your favourite producers? 

AR: Yes, it’s pretty much all recorded live. The three of us, myself, Tony Coburn (bass) and Jim Sharrock (drums), worked through the material a few times, but the  idea was to not overthink the process. The live energy of Nirvana’s In Utero and Steve Albini’s production approach was definitely a good reference point when we were in the studio. Mark Wainwright who produced the Ambro River stuff I think is amazing. I like and respect any producer who genuinely listens to the artist and is able to translate the ideas that are in the artist’s head. Not everyone can do that, you have to be on the same page musically. 

LN: The song Electrolyte is especially powerful. How did that composition come about? 

AR: I was playing around with a chord progression on my midi keyboard and after developing the progression I started singing the verse melody over the top. Initially I approached it as a bit of a throw away comedy song. I find it easy to come up with lyrics, and writing about ‘ playground alligators and creating that imagery, was more for my own amusement. I didn’t think of using it for anything. I’d just bought my new drum kit, and thought I would complete the demo, so I could have something to test the drums on and try some different mic positions. It was when I started strutting the chord progression out on a Les Paul in the rehearsal room with drums and bass, that it all just seemed to naturally fall into place like the record. 

LN: To me it is evident that you are already building a “brand”. This is quite clear in your cover art with the depiction various Lepidoptera….have you an interest? 

AR: I think it’s important to build a world around your music, more so now  than ever. In my opinion, the music industry has changed dramatically in the last few years, and beyond recognition from say 20 years ago. From the way records are made, written and sound, to the way they are marketed and sold. People want something they can buy into, watch, follow and immerse themselves in addictively. I think if you’re releasing music independently or with the support of a label, you have to not only create music, but create a world for that music to live in. I knew from when I chose the name that I wanted it to not only represent my music, but take on a life of its own. Where can that river flow? What will one encounter on the way? Each insect or animal you see, represents the theme or feeling that the particular song conveys. I have more interest in the power of the images themselves, although I am inspired by all nature. Ambro River is a fictional South American sci -fi location, so they really are only the first things we have encountered on our journey so far. 

LN: What’s next for Ambro River? 

AR: Firstly I want to play live with the band, but it’s getting the right gigs, not just booking gigs for the sake of saying I’ve done a gig. The songs were recorded and performed live, so I want that now to be experienced by an audience. I am working on a few things, and I will be announcing some information in the very near future of where you can come and see us play. Aside from that, writing new songs which I am really excited about sharing. 2022 is going to be a big year.

Follow Ambro River on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

Steve Kinrade