Amber Monique Talks Save RnB: "I Really Feel Like R&B Is Becoming Extinct"

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You handed me your debut project, Elevate, to see what I thought about it. And I told you one of the main things that stood out was that you stayed away from hitting high notes. Would I be too far off to say it was because of the anxiety?

Umm, no. I think you're right. I think every artist's first project, they look back and then they're like, "I just kinda want to erase it. I don't want to listen to that anymore." Elevate, it was definitely a growing part of my singer career. I feel like I didn't put as much feeling as I should have into it. I feel like I was trying too hard to make people like my singing instead of just putting what I love into it. I was definitely a little pitchy on that one. When I listen to it, I'm just like, "Oh, my God, turn it off." But I was scared to hit the high notes and open up more.

Does your anxiety carry over into your personal life when it comes to friendships and relationships? Do you keep people at a distance for a certain amount of time?

Definitely. I mean, we're all humans. We've all been hurt and all that stuff, but I think I would say, not just my anxiety, but people have trust issues. I've been hurt by guys before as you can tell from some of my songs. But I definitely keep people at a distance for a long time. The people that I usually hang out with are people that I've known for years. I don't like to let too many new people in. I'm always open to talking and meeting new people, but I wouldn't say letting them into my personal life. I try to keep that as private as possible, even though I do air my feelings in my songs.

But doesn't that hurt your music at the same time because you may be shutting down experiences before they happen?

I don't think so. I do let people in. I just don't let them in that deep like friends that I've had for years. I feel like it's a big deal for anybody to meet my parents, even friends, because I don't usually let that happen. I introduce people to my family and all that stuff, I just don't let everybody in that deep to the point where they know everything about me.

How did "Pluto" with Prez P come about?

I'm like the worst at listening to local artists I have to say, because me and Prez actually performed at Miami Jam Fest together back in February. I don't remember his performance, and I told him that too. He doesn't remember mine either. I know his manager had given me his CD. I'd gotten like ten CDs that night. And then one night, I was just like laying in my bed and I looked down and all these freaking local artists. His had the best package, so I just started listening to it, and I was like, "Oh, he's not bad."

The song, "Pluto," began as a poem about a guy that I won't mention. And when I heard the beat, I was like, "His voice would just fit." Everybody knows Prez has this mellow-type tone, and I just felt like it would go perfectly.

How about taking on Tupac's "Picture Me Rollin'"? You have to have balls to try to pull something off like that.

I'm a huge Tupac fan. That was a freestyle to tell you the truth. I was sitting at home, and sometimes I might listen to the actual song, I might just listen to his instrumentals just because I love his songs. And I just started singing to it. I always record myself singing because I might like something that I do. I was in my living room, and my dad was in there, and I just started freestyling. My dad loves thug music. He was like, "I like that shit."

The instrumental had more music to it, and I was like, "I don't really want to add too much to it." And then I had heard E. Banga at Jam Fest. She rapped at the press party and I was like, "I need to do a song with her." And we met up at one of the open mics we went to, and I let her listen to it, and she was like, "I want to get on that."

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Lee Castro