Meet Amber Mark – the rising New York musician who turned grief into a stunning debut EP

'3:33am' is out today

Coping with loss can be tough at the best of times. Most just retreat into themselves and try to weather the storm. Achieving anything can seem impossible. Which makes it even more remarkable that emerging US pop star Amber Mark is where she is today.

After a childhood of globetrotting between continents she tragically lost her mother to illness in 2013. Amber turned to art as a method of coping and poured her grief into the music. When she uploaded her first track ‘S p a c e’ to Soundcloud last year, no one could have expected what would come next. Within a matter of months, the song was picked up by Zane Lowe, landing on the iTunes homepage alongside Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Future, pushing a shocked and unsigned Amber Mark up to 35 in Spotify’s ‘Global Viral Chart’. Now, with her debut EP ‘3:33am’ out today, she’s hoping to prove that wasn’t just luck.

You travelled a lot when you were growing up. What was that like?

Well there was a lot of moving around, my Mum didn’t really stay in one place for more than two minutes. I stayed in Miami and New York until I was about nine and then we moved to India and stayed there for about four years and eventually moved to Berlin. It was definitely a cultural experience in its fullest and I absorbed a lot. I don’t regret any of it.

You were quite young – do you remember all of it?

Mostly. I remember my first concert. I was about three and I was obsessed with Michael Jackson. My mum took me to one of his shows in Munich in 1997 and that was a really big, defining moment in my life. I pretty much cried the whole time. I remember him entering on stage for the first track in this really crazy, robotic-looking suit. That was pretty cool.

Did music help you cope when your mum passed?

Definitely. The EP that’s coming out is all about her and dealing with loss. I started using music as therapy after she passed and it felt good to write about it. Each track on the EP is about one of the stages of grief: anger, isolation, sadness, questioning of faith, overcoming and so on.

The EP’s not a sad record though is it?

No. I didn’t want it to be something that was really sad. You’re talking about a really devastating time in people’s lives. I thought it was important to have something that was uplifting, to make you feel better, to say: ‘It does get better, it does get easier.’ I do talk about hard times but I also try to bring out the light.

Why is it called ‘3:33am’?

Three has been a really common number in my life. My mother was born in 1953, my brother was born in 1983 and I was born in 1993. Then, my Mum passed away on June 3, at 10:23 pm in 2013. Since then, I’d see three’s everywhere. Then, when I was writing the EP in New York, for two weeks straight I would be sitting at my computer until 8am in the morning. Any time I would get out of the zone, I would check the clock and I always remember it being 3.33am.

The lyrics on first single ‘Lose My Cool’ are brutally honest. What makes you lose your cool?

When I was writing the track, literally everything made me lose my cool. But right now? My boyfriend stays at my place a lot of the time and he never puts the toilet seat down, so that bothers me!

What are your plans for the future?

Just people responding well. I’ve started writing for my next project already. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be an album but we’ll see how it goes.

Is there anyone you’d like to work with?

So many. As an artist, Timbaland, Pharell, J Cole and Drake would be amazing.  But production-wise Q Tip is my number one. I’d love to work with him.

3:33am by Amber Mark

Singer-songwriter/Producer Amber Mark. My style is a mix of alternative R&B mixed with a little tribal and topped off with a little soul.

Amber Mark’s debut EP ‘3:33 am’ is out now via PMR Records

She plays The Waiting Room, London on June 6.