Ski lifts are usually spent skilfully slaloming between small talk with a stranger, thawing an awful hangover or focusing on trying not to stack it on the way out. Beguiling UK artist Ama Lou, though, reckons a gondola is as good a time as any to belt out some ballads, as highlighted by her new collaboration with outdoors brand Salomon.
The project sees Ama head to the Alps with a few musical pals to perform the song Be Well from her debut LP I Came Home Late. A tour-de-force of textured R&B, the album sees the singer enter into a state of introspection over sleek beats and delicate instrumentation. The record has been in the making ever since Ama was co-signed by Drake and Jorja Smith in 2018.
She’s also seen sporting the Speedcross 3 shoe, a revived version of a heritage style designed for trail running and mountain racing. Vanilla only in colourway, it features an edgy silhouette emblazoned with zig-zag detailing, making it just as at home on warehouse rave floors as it is on ambling rambles. Plus its oversized, ground-hugging lug means the aforementioned stacking isn’t going to happen.
The snowy landscape is a fitting backdrop; Salomon, of course, was born in the city of Annecy, right in the heart of the Alps. But it’s also a properly cold team-up, as Ama shares the brand’s sense of adventure and love of fashion. A regular on the front row for the likes of Loewe and Acne, Ama Lou is an avid vintage collector and designs her own pieces for her cinematic music videos.
But how does Ama get through a Great British Winter? And could we see a pair of Sa-Lou-mons in the near future? We caught up with the singer après-ski to hear more.
What was it like performing in the Alps? Did it change the vibe of the performance?
Yeah, well obviously it was bloody freezing. But I think it worked in my favour because Be Well is a very emotional and vulnerable song and usually when I perform I’m very animated, I guess a little bit more gangster. So with it being cold and having to sit still, I was a lot more together and composed.
It must have been pretty cold for the band, too. Playing guitar with gloves can’t be easy…
Luckily my band members have played in church as a kid, so it’s kind of second nature. Thank God.
Your music itself always feels like a soundscape. How do you go about creating these?
I always translate a picture of what I want something to sound like into audio. I’ll keep experimenting with stuff until the reality of the audio matches that visual pairing that’s in my head. But then, when I’m more intentional about it, I let that one fly off the hinges. When someone’s listening to my music, I’d like them to be able to close their eyes, and even if they can’t pick out a certain sound that’s making them feel like this, there’s a visual story and journey.
You have written about snow before, in your song Winter. What were you visualising then?
When I was writing that song, I had the video in my head. The soundscape was a border town and like a desolate landscape with a lot of pensive thoughts. That song is very much about barrenness and being left alone and like having to create things in a space where you don’t have that many resources.
You’re an early riser. Is that the key to getting through our own Great British Winter?
I feel like recently I have been contradicting my early morning thing. I’ve been working with people in LA and so have ended up editing until like 5am and then I wake up at 3pm when there’s no light. So I’m on some sort of nocturnal schedule. But I think that getting up in the morning is super crucial because you’re already limited on the hours of sunlight exposure time you need and otherwise you feel like you’re being rushed through the day.
Yeah, the winter darkness is pretty grim.
You know what, I’ve realised that if I put the heater on before I get up I can get out of bed. But if it’s cold in the room: no, no, no!
What was your 2023 world tour like?
I had the most amazing time. Usually we land the day before the show so I have a couple of hours to walk aimlessly around the city to get my bearings. Some of these cities I don’t look at the crowd before I go on so I see them for the first time when I’m on stage. The reactions and the way they were signing songs that I wrote when I was like 12 consistently left me, like, aghast. It was crazy.
Did you have any home comforts?
In terms of home comforts, I probably think this is such a prominent one because it was such a topic on tour: slippers. Even if it’s a nice hotel you don’t want to be on those dutty carpets. Also I brought my own matcha. It’s hit or miss everywhere. Some have good matcha imports, some don’t. Oh, and I brought my sister with me. Not like she doesn’t have a full time career. But she became like a PA and it was hilarious. My big sister is my biggest home comfort.
When you weren’t wearing slippers, you were wearing Salomons. Why do you rate their shoes?
Number one is functionality, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if you’re a fashion girl, there’s nothing more annoying than having shoes that don’t feel good. They’re also subdued in terms of branding so can go with everything. If I’m on a small trip I’ll take one pair of Salomons and I know I can go for a hike in the woods or wear them to dinner without anyone looking at me crazy. They’re really easily transposable across lots of different outfits but also understated and chic.
I know you design your own clothes, too. What would pair perfectly with them?
At this moment I’m drafting a pattern for a pair of trousers which are like a heavy off-white fleece, warm and cosy like a tracksuit. That will be my dream pairing because I want to wear them for the rest of winter so I’ll let you know when I crack it.
What’s on your slightly sunnier horizon for this year?
Honestly everything. The first album is such a massive feat, sometimes I try to play it down but emotionally it really had an effect on me and changed my perspective. I’m now at a point where I don’t have a goal but the world is my oyster and I feel like I’ve done so much work in costume design, my sound, the visuals that I’ve cemented a style and people know what and who I am. So I’m excited to build on that. Was that super generic?
Not at all, we love the optimism. Let’s have it, 2024! Thanks Ama.