It’s rare, if ever, you’ve heard of an Soul/Pop singer from Mongolia. However, Mongolia is home to one of Asia’s rising musical artists, Amra. The alluring, multifaceted singer spoke with us on a myriad of topics while visiting the U.S. for the SXSW festival.

In a musical world where there’s soo much uniformity, Mongolian singer Amra just may be the unfamiliar you are looking for.

Dialogue Magazine: You’ve had an interesting journey. Tell us about your background. 

AMRA: I am a proud kid of blue-collar family. Entire their life, my father worked in different factories and infrastructure firms while my mom worked as pediatrician in public health centers. As they are products of Mongolian Socialist era, they didn’t have the best time when democracy happened in Mongolia. I mean, lot of Mongolians struggled through unemployment, poverty and alcoholism. Soviet built factories were shut down and my father lost his job. It was such a hard time. They worked so hard to survive in the capital city. There were lots of ups and downs in our life and I feel like I have absorbed lot of their insecurities n emotions into my life. No matter what, we were together. I didn’t grow up with the money but there was love.

DM:  Who is Amra?
AMRA: I am an independent, dreamy and feminist girl. I’ve actually worked so hard to come at this place where I am at right now. I’ve been this consistent and hard-working girl since my school years. I used to push myself too much and rush to accomplish too many things at once. That was where I got myself so tired mentally and physically. I had to unlearn the things that I learned, the things that are so self-destructive. I had to learn to create boundaries so that I could live with less toxicity. I had to learn to say no. Time after time, I realized that I tried too hard to create this perfect individual that society wants, but not the one that I needed the most. All the wins and losses, ups and downs, I try to tell the story through my music and inspire young girls to believe in themselves independent of their parents, partners or any other people.

What sparked your interest in singing and this style of music?

AMRA: It actually took a lot of time for me to fully believe in my music. I remember the days that I used to sing a lot to YouTube and SoundCloud instrumentals when I was a teenage girl. I just really enjoyed singing, but I had this stage anxiety, you know. All my school teachers want me to sing on school events and I just used to go absent. I was that shy girl. Since my first studio session in 2014, I started to write songs. And my debut song, which inspired from my lost moments, got released in April 2015. I was so focused on my academic life and education up until 2020. I watched The Weeknd’s Asia Tour in Japan, got really inspired by all the work he put into music. And it felt like why it could not be me someday. Maybe it pushed me towards focusing on my music since then.

DM: How has your experience in the United States and at SXSW been?

Photo Credit: Tron Music Agency

AMRA: It was such an eye-opening experience. I have met with so many artists all over the world, made a bunch of friends and had so much fun. Coming from a small country, I’ve just realized how big the global music industry really is. Uniting all these great artists from all over the world is such an amazing idea. The diversity and artistry got me so inspired to create more and work harder. Having an international audience coming to me for photos or to get my Spotify n social accounts felt so good. There was this local lady, in her 60s, who jammed on my whole performance at Higher Ground. She said that I am her second Mongolian idol following The Lemons, the famous Mongolian band and told that all my songs are so authentic and beautiful. Now I feel like I could have my own audience in US market as well. As pandemic is just about to end, it felt like it became so much easier to connect with each other no matter where we’re from.

DM: You have a unique voice. Who are some of the artists that have inspired you?

AMRA: One of the earliest and biggest influences in my music would be Amy Winehouse. I love how she captured the audience with her unique, powerful and jazzy voice. I love how her lyrics are so original and make people feel okay about themselves. She’d always live in my heart with her boldness. Before having my own songs, I used to perform covers of ‘Valerie’, ‘You know I’m no good’ n ‘Love is a losing game’ at some local venues. It makes me so sad sometimes how these amazing talents got to leave us so early. I’d name Kali Uchis as my American influence. I’ve been listening to her for last 4, 5 years. It’s not that a long time, but the way she influenced me is a lot. She is a Colombian American singer and songwriter. Her aestheticism, dreamy vocal just energizes me. I totally relate to her lyrics in some songs. For example, in her song ‘Tomorrow’ she sings ‘Today is the day I’ll learn that I believe in miracles, I can feel the world opening up, I think I broke the curse’. This is the exact feeling that I felt since I started to believe in my music, myself and trying to become my true-self. In a place where being my true-self is always judged, it’s been hard to choose what I love to do the most over what I’m obliged to do to support my family. But I’d say it was the best decision in my life.

DM: What does your music mean to you, and what do you want others to get from it?

Photo Credit: Tron Music Agency

AMRA: My music is mostly the mantra that I tell myself to be more of my authentic-self, to feel okay about myself. I write lyrics based on my emotions, feelings and imagination. I write them to escape the reality. When I channel something really sad through my music, get over it with my fans, I just feel healed. I try to be honest with my audience, so that they could be honest with themselves. Sometimes we make mistakes and that’s okay, cause we’re living for the first time. That’s the message I want to give to them. My music is about my healing journey. The best encouragement is how my fans say that my songs made them feel empowered, loved and at ease.

DM: What are some of the negatives you’ve noticed as your career has advanced?
AMRA: Sometimes it feels like that society wants us to look cute, hot and voiceless. Whenever I write about my viewpoints on social issues, there’d be people to say you’d better stay calm and silent. As an individual, I’d always express my ideas, no matter what. Being a female artist can’t degrade my rights as a human being. Also, there’d be people sending DMs that are abusive or
threatening, lot of social bullies happens. Sometimes I expose them to show that we are all vulnerable human beings who do not deserve any form of bully and the rest should get alerted. Just because we have many fans and followers does not mean that we are robots
DM: ‘All Night’ is one of my favorite songs. (Click play button on top photo for video)
AMRA: Thank you so much. I am planning to do a full studio album in English. Some verses might be in Mongolia. Sometimes it feels like I could create melody more easily in English than in Mongolian. That’s why I mix them in most of my songs. We’ve worked quite a long for ‘All Night’ music video to settle on the right idea to show the catchiness of the song. My visions are captured in styling part as well.
DM: What musical artists would be perfect guest appearances on one of your songs?
AMRA: Definitely I’d go for Kali Uchis, Snoh Aalegra, Audrey Nuna, Rejjie Snow and Amaarae. I love these powerful artists and how they are shaping their artist journey in such a beautiful way. I know they’d go big if they play the industry game, but I love how they’re keeping their authenticity at the same time.
DM: The typical ways for you to relieve stress are?
AMRA: That’s a great question. I get stressed time to time as I am becoming a spotlight in Mongolia and there’d still be naysayers who are trying to degrade you somehow. And it’s such a small community, everyone knows who is doing what. I try to flow it out by doing vinyasa yoga, meditation and connecting to nature. Because the capital city is surrounded by mountains, we have plenty of chance to do hiking, to go into woods. Mountains give me this calm, balanced energy and make me feel that I am part of this beautiful earth. Whenever I go see some beautiful sceneries or mountains, something great happens instantly. It’s like I’m deeply connected to it.
DM: What can we expect from you in the future?
AMRA: I am currently working on my second studio album, where I’d collaborate with many international artists. My debut vinyl ‘Never’ and merch will be ready for sales. Also, we will start working on my new single music video when I am back from the trip. Maybe rest better be a mystery.