FEATURE – AMNI MUSFIRAH
A wildly accomplished performer, Amni Musfirah (Music '12) was doing gigs regularly while she was at SOTA, and had been awarded the NAC scholarship after graduating, helping her to enroll in Berklee College of Music. Amni has contributed to our Instagram Takeover, and now for our first alumni feature, we sit down with the recent grad to talk more about her music journey.
Freshly Pressed: Hi Amni! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Where are you now?
Amni Musfirah: I'm in Boston now! I graduated last semester, and have been here doing my music. I'm finding gigs, doing side work like scores, and promoting my new song, New York High. I’m also mentally preparing for my graduation in a couple of days. We're paying tribute to honorary doctorates, one of whom is Lionel Richie, and I'm arranging and conducting his song "You Are" for my graduation concert at the Agganis Arena, a really huge arena seating 7,200 people.
FP: Time has seriously flown. Why Berklee, and what were you studying there?
A: My mom was upset that I didn't apply for any other school but Berklee, but I knew that it was the only school I wanted to attend. I was thinking in their Film Scoring course, but it was took specific for me. I wound up taking Contemporary Writing and Production, which I wanted to do because I primarily wanted to make pop music.
FP: Do you guys collaborate a lot there?
A: We do a lot of that at Berklee. When any of us write songs, I'm always down to sing on their songs or write with them. Ultimately the practice is good. Working with more people allows us to get more ideas. Even though sometimes collaboration results in bad songs, at least you get to throw those bad ideas out of your head! I have friends who can write a really good Billboard Top 100 song, and its so its amazing to see what people can do instinctively. When I ask them how they do it, its because they’ve been writing from really young. I just started writing and putting my stuff out there when I was 16, but I'm excited to get better.
Photos by Yuwei Hwang
FP: What would you say some of your highlights were?
A: During the second to last semester, we did music composition and production for a pop song and an advertisement. Finishing that assignment felt like an epiphany that I had truly achieved my goal to produce it. I also conducted an orchestra, and had never thought I'd be writing for one. Another was when I finally got to be okay with putting my writing out there. Previously, letting people hear my songs is like looking into my diary. Taking Lyric Writing in Berklee helped me to put my stuff out there. That is how I wrote New York High.
FP: Talk to us more about New York High. What is it about?
A: New York High is about being totally in love with the city, a metaphor of you being surrounded by everybody, but not knowing everything. It’s busy, everyone is around you, but you still feel isolated. The city keeps you, makes you feel like home, and you are still feeling like you want to be on the New York hype, but the only thing who can give you that satisfaction is the person you love. That is what the song is about. It was funny, I didn’t like it in the beginning because I thought I was being too sentimental. But my friend had listened to it and wanted to produce it, which was great. It must've required some distance. I was eventually really invested in process and the sound of the production style, and the song ended up being exactly the musical direction I wanted to pursue.
FP: How would you describe your music style, or what kind of themes do you like to incorporate into your work?
A: I’m mostly a Pop R&B artist. I'm very sentimental, and my ideas come from anywhere. write about love, and about myself. I listen to a lot of pop music growing up, which I think influenced my music taste and the work I wanted to make. I recently have been listening to Drake, and I like how his music brings out an ambience and puts you in a space. The Weekend does that too. Over time when I do my songs, I want to put everybody in a space, so you see what I hear or write about. With NYH, I recorded the boots I was walking, so you can listen to that connection present in the song besides my voice, and instrumentally you hear New York ambient.
What do you want your listeners to feel?
A; I want my listeners to hear what I feel. People could like it or not, but at the end of the day regardless of your opinion you can see where I’m coming from, and you still feel something. You understand that it comes from a very real and relatable place.
FP: Let's go back a bit. Why music?
A: I’ve always liked music. The reason why I wanted to do music was because no. 1, I can't do anything else. But seriously, ever since I was young, music helped me go through a lot of things. I went through a stage where I got bullied, and making music felt like something nobody could touch. When I perform, no one can be in my space. It is my space, to feel strong and I can do whatever I want. And ultimately, because I really really like it. My family and I listen to music all the time. I enjoy listening, performing, and I don't enjoy doing anything else. Maybe shopping. But finally the reason why I do this is because I believe I can make something out of myself, and it gives me strength of confidence to be whoever I want to be. When I have music and am on stage, the restrictions of life can’t box me in.
FP: What would you say is your philosophy?
A: I like to be happy. Your energy affects the people around you. I try to stay positive even when… I’m positive it wont go well. Only you can define what you want out of life, and what do you want to do. It’s ok to feel sad, or to be negative, but don't dwell on it.
FP: What are you working on next?
A: I'm releasing singles slowly, and there's another one coming up in the summer!
FP: Thanks for chatting with us Amni! Any closing comments?
A: My single New York High is available on all music platforms such as iTunes, Spotify, Tidal and etc. Enjoy!