Multi-talented artist Amatus discusses her music and clothing line, explaining that the hardships she’s been through have helped her remain all the more resilient in creating a career with longevity and success.
Profession: Artist (recording artist, music producer, sound designer, actress)
How did you get started?
I went to high school in Philly and attended a Black Arts after school program at Freedom Theater. It saved my life at the time.
Why do you do it?
Sometimes I ask myself that all the time. LOL. But seriously, I scored a production of Macbeth in 2012 for the Georgia Shakespeare festival, directed by Raelle Myrick Hodges, a production I was very proud to be a part of.
It wasn’t til the end of the rehearsal process that I asked the artistic director what other black composers and women have worked there before so I could look them up. He said that I was both the only woman and African-American composer/designer they had ever had. It’s these moments in your life and career that bring stillness and focus to the importance of your time, space and energy and what you represent outside of yourself no matter what you may think of yourself.
It’s these moments in your life and career that bring stillness and focus to the importance of your time, space and energy and what you represent outside of yourself no matter what you may think of yourself.
Ups and downs you sometimes face on the job:
Downs are being somewhat of an introvert in an industry that requires you to make your opportunities by networking and putting a lot of trust into individuals in a short amount of time with your mutual resources. Ups are the highs of finishing work and knowing that you are doing what you really want to do and thankful that God is letting you pay your bills by doing it.
Your greatest achievement so far?
Graduating from college (New York University). I am the first and only member of my family to go and graduate after high school. My mother started college when I graduated.
What might be next for you?
A film I scored will air on Al-Jazeera America titled “Daisy and Max.” I will be participating in a staged reading of a new play “Polly’s Letter” by Tatyana Yassukovich and produced by Tara Culp. I also have upcoming gigs with my band from a new album I’m finishing up.
One of my goals for 2016 is to sound design for a visual artist I admire for a gallery tour.
How do you think being from inner city Chicago has shaped your outlook on life, as well as influencing your musical style?
Being from Chicago has made me have to adapt to every opportunity and sometimes learn steep curves in a short amount of time. The upside is that now in my job description I have real experience that is ever evolving.
How were you able to connect with Barney Co-op to sell your line? What was that experience like?
Selling my designs at the co-op was a magical experience. My mother made my clothes when I was child. We were broke and she had skills.
I started sewing and supporting myself during/after college. I made one piece at a time that was all unique to 10 boutique stores. I was a full one-person sweatshop in my apartment. After honing that technique I was able to make a small run of a six-piece line with an independent production house. At that point I was able to approach buyers with my line-sheet and they liked two pieces the first time around and six pieces the second.
Although I chose to pursue other goals after three years, the thrill has stayed with me to this day, having the experience of building something from nothing, and translate the idea of this “vision” to other mediums.
What’s your relationship with your hair like? Do you find that it influences your style at all?
I feel like my hair is its own entity. I wish I got to give it more attention than it deserves. If I had my way, I would wear it out and wild everyday but, unfortunately, you could lose adamant objects in the tangle by the end of the day and the maintenance regimen can take up to a few hours. I’m a little simple, so when I do wear it out, it becomes the focus of my look so I can be a little lazy with my clothes being stylish or whatever?
What are your top 5 go-to hair tips?
Because I’m a natural girl, I have to keep moisture going at all times so I’m not at risk of a brushfire. Raw Aloe Vera Jelly with either olive oil/coconut oil, or good old-fashioned Nature’s Blessing pomade are a daily must.
Like most women, I am in a constant state of product rotation so right now some kind of gel or holding serum is a must for me. I mix “As I Am” smoothing gel (it doesn’t contain alcohol and maintains a nice hold) with Aveda “Be Curly” because no matter how much I try to stay away from Aveda they have some smells that “get me.”