Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"Really dirty and really loud": An interview with rapper Amanda Blank

If you've gotten a taste of her music already, you probably either love or hate Amanda Blank. The 27-year-old female rapper and dance-pop phenom from Philly has been known to sing/rap/talk openly about sex, sex, sex, and sex. On her debut solo album, "I Love You," Blank raps, "Ride no lie just get inside me/Like you better if you just ride me," and "I get off on top and get on again." But despite the vulgar lyrics, the album is extremely fun and catchy, and Blank's gotten several killer opportunities in the industry as a result of her gritty appeal. She’s collaborated with Santigold and MIA and scored several collaborations with rappers Spank Rock and Ghostface Killah. Blank will be performing live February 4th at Terrace Club, so come out to see a show that will be, in her own words, "quite the spectacle." Intersections talked to Amanda to find out more about her writing, rapping, and how she became such a firecracker performer.

Q: How did you start rapping and writing? Was there a specific moment when you realized that's what you wanted to do as a career?

A: I started writing music when I was in high school in a 2 man band with my friend but didn't start "officially" rapping until Spank Rock, my good friend, told me that the verses I was writing were dope and I should start rapping seriously. That's when I performed on his single "Bump" (2005). The first performance I ever did was terrifying - I was so nervous before I jumped onstage, but as soon as I grabbed the mic and started rapping in front of an audience, it just clicked. Now performing is everything for me.

Q: Who are your major influences?

A: I listen to everything, but I really like female rappers. Missy Elliott and Eve are some of my favorites, and Lil Kim, Foxy, and MC Lyte.

Q: So as I was looking at some of your interviews online, I came across a headline that read, "Is it wrong to think of sex when you hear the name Amanda Blank?" You're very open about your sexuality in your music - what would you say to people that say you're too open or oversexed?

A: (laughs) I'd say it's like speaking German to people that are speaking French. I really don't think they get it. It's a double-edged sword. If I didn't rap about sex, people would say I'm prude, or a lesbian. But when I do, people call me a slut.

Q: You also convey this really tough, I-do-what-I-want attitude in your music. Is that you in real life? Who's the real Amanda Blank?

A: I definitely do what I want. Me on stage is sort of an exaggerated, obnoxious version of me offstage. But I'm me all the time. I would never act on stage like I do in front of my parents though!

Q: You've talked about being a sort of sensitive singer-songwriter as well as a rapper, and it comes out on a couple of the songs on the record. Can you tell us about that part of your music?

A: 10 years ago, I would have thought I would turn out like Susie Suh if I did music as a career. It was never my intention to be a rapper. I grew up playing guitar, and everyone in my family is a trained musician. I write that sort of acoustic stuff as well - it's just more private.

Q: What's one thing fans would be totally surprised to learn about you?

A: I'm a complete homebody. I sing about parties and drinking and boys, but my favorite thing to do is make food, watch movies, and chill with my sweetheart.

Q: Have you ever had any particularly memorable or embarrassing performance experiences?

A: Yes! Actually, last week, while I was on tour in Australia, my sound guy dropped acid before the show, and there was so much effing feedback on the stage because he was just dancing around in the booth doing jack shit. I couldn't hear anything and got totally turned around. And at another show on that leg of the tour, there was a huge dipbro in the front row heckling me and being entirely obnoxious and rude so I smashed my beer bottle over his head and spat on him. We got into a fight on stage and I was like, "shit, I'm getting arrested." Luckily, it was fine, but looking back, I can't believe I did that.

Q: Is there a musician you've been dying to collaborate with?

A: Andre 3000. But the person who I'd dream to sing a song with is Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode.

Q: What do you do for fun when you're not doing music?

A: I'm pretty much always working, and if I'm not working on solo stuff, I'm working with my friends. I play with my band Sweatheart in my spare time. And I take yoga and love hanging out with my boyfriend.

Q: What's your honest opinion of the music industry and big name labels today?

A: There's so much good about the power of the Internet and being able to hear anyone online, but big artists today also make a ridiculous amount of money, and people who work super hard are not making as much. We kind of need a reality check. I don't know how such a high price got put on music. Big artists are making billions of dollars. Like guys, it's fucking music.

Q: If your life were a song or a rap, what would the title be?

A: Heavy metal vomit.

Q: What's the ballsiest or bravest thing you've ever done?

A: I think starting a fight with a huge dude in Australia was pretty ballsy. I've also done a lot of weird shit. My best friend and I used to teach aerobics to homeless women.

Q: What's the show on the 4th gonna be like in a few words?

A: Really dirty and REALLY loud. Quite the spectacle.

Amanda Blank will be performing at Terrace Club on Thursday at midnight.

Interview conducted, condensed and edited by Jess Turner '12.

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