I had the privilege of interviewing Amanda from Björn and The Sun, a stunning duo making soulful music out of Los Angeles, California. We talked about Hollywood, the struggles and nuances of being an artist, and how she finds her inspiration.
Your song, "Twenty-Five" (I can't stop listening to it, by the way) seems to be about finding yourself as an artist, what have been your biggest struggles so far, and what makes all of it worth it to you?
The biggest struggle has been getting over my own fears. It’s amazing how much we can talk ourselves out of creating, writing, sharing ourselves with each other. We can scare ourselves into security or a strict career path. Yet, once we are able to control these self-doubts and insecurities, our whole world can break open in so many beautiful ways. You just have to take that first leap.
The response I received from friends and family after I shared the first song I wrote and sang with David was so encouraging. I felt all this love and was inspired to keep writing and playing. Developing my voice over the last few months has helped settle my fears. I’m ready to let loose and I owe that to all the beautiful people who kept pushing me forward.
Hollywood, they say its the land that makes you or breaks you, do you believe this is true? How has this city inspired you?
Los Angeles has such a fascinating art history. Since the 1960s it has always been a hub for artists looking for alternative modes of art making outside of the considered art center of New York. So many countercultures, feminist collectives, socially-engaged and activist art practices developed out of this city which encouraged this freedom for experimentation. I love its physical vastness, its cultural diversity and of course, its light.
You can be anything you want here.
You are also a talented photographer. How does photography tie into the music you make? What feels different to you about creating visual pieces and creating music? Are there parallels?
I used to think that I had to choose one medium and devote myself completely to it. I read an interview with Patti Smith who completely changed the way I viewed the role of an artist. She always makes sure to surround herself with all kinds of tools for art making, whether they are musical instruments, paintbrushes, or cameras. Some days, you wake up and you want to paint. Other days, you want to shoot in the morning and sing at night. I see it all as storytelling. We shouldn’t have to choose one way to express ourselves.
Your new single "Carry On", where did the inspiration come from?
David and I were just sitting in my room late one night. I was folding laundry and he started playing the melody. It was a full moon. I had just read a love poem that my nana had written for my grandfather about dancing in the light of the moon. The image stuck with me and I started to sing the chorus.
I had been asked to perform for my good friend Julia’s wedding and so the idea of creating a song for her was always on the back of my mind. The song was written with the two lovebirds in mind. Despite the long bumpy road ahead, we will all carry on singing.
Who are your musical influences?
Otis Redding, Patti Smith, Aretha, Memphis Minnie, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Bessie Smith, Rodriguez, Chan Marshall, my friends, and of course, David.
And of course, what does wild mean to you?
Fearlessly howling your story up at the moon!
More on Bjorn and The Sun
Amanda Bjorn and David Donaldson are Bjorn and The Sun, a Los Angeles based bluesy folk duo. Reminiscent of Graham Nash and Rita Coolidge, their words offer up poetic wisdom and gripping hope. Together, Bjorn and Sun create songs that go from a sound that is fresh and twangy to something more sultry and smokey, something akin to rich molasses. In August, they released their first EP titled "Lavender" and are working on an upcoming record this Fall in Nashville.