While at one point, the female pop star title was reserved for label-manufactured beauty queens, pop music has recently opened its doors to more dynamic personalities: Clairo, Maggie Rogers, King Princess, and so on.
18-year-old Amilli is one of our favorite newcomers, and she's looking to challenge the stereotypes associated with pop music made by and for young people. On “Rarri,” her most popular song to date, she’s unimpressed with luxury cars and designer purchases. It's a message that complements her own low investment aesthetic and laid back charm.
On each of the four songs the German singer has released thus far, the production is relaxed and minimal, cautious to not swallow her gentle, sometimes lullaby-like melodies. Amilli names Tom Misch and Billie Eilish as two of her favorite artists, and she's following in their footsteps with slightly left-of-center music that sounds new without abandoning the time-tested fundamentals of good pop songs.
With plans to lock in and make her first album this year, we’ve listed Amilli as one of our favorite artists to keep an ear out for in 2019. Watch the premiere of her new music video for "Into You" and get to know Amilli below.
What was your childhood like, growing up in Germany?
I’m from West Germany, near Cologne, it’s a town called Bochum. I had a great childhood, it was kind of normal. I was very blessed. I have a great family, who was really into music and so I grew up with that.
Did they play music or just listen to it around the house?
Both. It was very jazz influenced, my brother and my dad both play jazz piano. My mother sings as well, mostly classical. I was listening to a lot of jazz and older hip-hop, like Biggie and Tupac. A lot of soul, too, like Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse. They influenced me a lot.
I wrote a song in like 20 minutes and recorded it in this basement studio of a friend's. I uploaded it on SoundCloud and then things just got started.
Did they teach you piano or how to sing?
Yeah, I’ve been playing piano for twelve years now. I was kind of more into listening to music, actually. I didn’t really see my future in being a musician. I’ve always made it for myself, and I didn’t really have enough confidence to sing in front of people. That started around two years ago.
Did something happen that gave you the confidence?
My best friend and some of my friends were like, "Oh you can really sing!" [Laughs]. I wrote a song in like 20 minutes and recorded it in this basement studio of a friend's. I uploaded it on SoundCloud and then things just got started.
What’s been your favorite song you’ve made?
It doesn’t have a name yet. It’s about a girl that’s stuck in a relationship that’s really toxic and can’t really distance herself from the situation. It’s kind of like "Maybe," my latest single, but it’s deep and I really sing—I really use my voice—in this song. And it’s all real instruments; I like that as well.
What inspired the anti-materialistic message behind "Rarri"?
I got inspired by the music that my friends were listening to. I noticed that a lot of musicians talk about a lot about materialistic things. I wanted to make a song that was anti-materialistic and talking about how these things are so unimportant in life.
Do you think spreading nonconformist ideas like that is important?
I think so, because it’s just different.
Do you have a larger vision for yourself?
I don’t really have this master plan or goal. I kind of just take things as they come. If I get the chance to be successful with the music that I like to make, that’s really nice. But if this is not gonna happen, I’m not going to be destroyed. I just take things as they come.
What are you most excited about in the new year?
I’m excited for the gigs coming up. A lot of festivals and going on a tour with a jam band for four dates. I’m really excited because I haven’t [performed] much before, maybe three or four times.
What’s important to you right now?
There’s a big hype at the moment when things are getting started, and I’m doing so many interviews, so right now it’s really important for me to stay in contact with my family and friends and talk about other things besides the music. Everything is about my career at the moment, so it’s important for me to take breaks.
Any other plans?
I want to make an album of course, so I’m working until March. Until then I’ll be locked somewhere with my band, concentrating on music.