Amrita “Ami” Kaur Dang is a South Asian-American vocalist, sitarist, composer and producer from Baltimore. Her sound ranges from North Indian classical fused with noise/ambient electronics to beat-driven psych and experimental dancepop. The work references her hybrid identity as a first-generation South Asian-American, Sikh upbringing, musical education, as well as the chaos and spirituality of the landscapes of both Baltimore and urban India.
1: If you made €5000 each and every day for 500 years, you would still not be a billionaire.
2: The melting of Arctic permafrost releases 1.7 billion tons of carbon per year–twice as much as we previously thought.
3: Globally, at least 1 in 3 children under five is malnourished and not growing well.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
My biggest inspiration for my music is actually more of the fact that there’s such a lack of music that combines traditional/folk instruments and sounds with electronics. I’m hoping to fill that gap.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
I started playing music (piano and violin) at a young age–I think 6 years old. (I quit both instruments before the age of 10!) I always enjoyed singing in choir, and then I started playing sitar when I was 12. I also took dance classes and was very much into dance and theatre, so I spent a lot of my time performing as a child. I got more into making my own music when I was about 18 years old–at the very end of school, just before university.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
In no particular order:
Portishead – Third
Hooverphonic – Blue Wonder Power Milk
Kaushiki Chakraborty – Pure
Various Artists – Qurbani (soundtrack)
Philip Glass Ensemble – Einstein on the Beach
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
This is my first visit! Before the visit: an artist’s playground due to available and affordable housing/space and generally a supportive culture. Since I’ve been here, the picture of what I think of as Berlin has expended: a man drinking a beer on the train; autumn leaves growing up the side of a building; fascist architecture going head-to-head with traditional, brick warehouses in East Berlin; showing up in a dark yard behind a gate (where you aren’t sure if are in the right place) and finding a cozy speakeasy.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
My home. :)
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Oh my! So much of what I do involves music. But I imagine I would devote myself more to social justice related to human rights, workers’ rights, sexual assault, the environment, etc.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
I did a bulk Bandcamp order a little while back:
“Time-Pass On Broken Harmonium,” by Chiya Dinus
“Volca Aarti,” by EQ369
We Are Human by The Fountain
Flammarion by Edward Givens
Aether by NYVVA
Arranged Marriage NP by Arranged Marriage NP
Chrome Void by Chrome Void
Laika by Laika & the Tape Loops
desert sun process by APPROACHING
everything is garbage [24bit] by Manyu
Controlled Chaos by McLovin
History Of Heat by SADAF
Old Monks Circle by Swayambhu Records
Links by Kumail
Oceans by 4lienetic
“Remember” by Disco Puppet
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
I’ve played and seen so many, and it’s hard to keep track. But one in particular comes to mind today. A couple of years ago, I played Fields Festival, a short-lived DIY festival based in Maryland, as a part of my band Raw Silk. We played in a pavilion that was covered and had a floor but was open to the elements on all sides. A huge storm was rolling in all day, and right when we started, the rain came down in buckets! We played really well, and I think we all felt that we experienced something very spiritual with the music and the rain.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Very important! I use electronic music production in all of my music, and I also have my own home studio setup so that I can record and produce music on my own. Technology isn’t just a tool for me–it’s also a medium.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have two sisters. They are supportive of me as an artist, but I don’t think they particularly care for my music.
Ami Dang performs at DICE Conference + Festival 2019, happening from 31st October to 3rd November!
Photo © Missy Malouff