Amanda Seales first caught my attention after hearing her latest album, Madame Monochrome. I found her work to be extremely inspiring and not able to let this go by without further research, I found that she is also a DJ, TV and radio host, a poet (spanning back to Russel Simmon’s Def Poetry Jam), and a painter among many other talents. She is well educated, very well accomplished and after going by Amanda Diva for most of her entertainment career, a name change was in order. There was no doubt that we wanted to interview this renaissance woman to find out what powers so many amazing projects and what Hip-Hop means to her!
Lady. Bang. Beat.: Your songs are so personal and relatable. Are the stories behind the lyrics stories of/from your life?
Amanda Seales: Yup definitely. If they’re not directly about me they’re usually about someone around me. The most relatable stories are real ones and for me it’s really important to make music that people relate to.
LBB: At what point in your life did you decide that music would be one of your career paths?
AS: In 2006. i tried before but couldn’t rhyme on beat and my singing voice was just ehhhh. But top of 2006 i did a poetry performance and there was a band there. In the middle of the poem i realized, “hey i’m on beat!” Next day I ended up running into the same band and they said they wanted to play for me. We didn’t work together for long (they were WILDLY unprofessional) but they did link me with a place to record at City College in Harlem and that set me on my course to becoming a full fledged artist.
LBB: In what ways has your extensive knowledge of African American Studies contributed to your music or life?
AS: It has really helped with my ability to connect with my audience across a number of artistic and expressive mediums. From music to interviews to visual art etc I think the fact that I know so much about my people and our history has given me an ability to connect to them in an authentic way through my work. Unfortunately it hasn’t helped me at all in my personal life in terms of finding a good Black man as a partner but we can’t have everything can we!? lol
LBB: If you could define hip-hop in one word?
LBB: Its obvious that you have a strong passion for comedy and music. How do you feel about the combining the two arts? What do you think of lyricists like Flight of the Concords and The Lonely Island?
AS: I love it! I dabbled with that in a sketch I did about Lady Gaga remixing Tupac records and it was fun. It’s not something I would make the norm but it’s definitely hilarious when done right!
LBB: Do you think there will ever be a time when more people will be open to hearing rhymes from a women’s perspective?
AS: Honestly no. Lol I know that may seem fatalistic but hip hop is really a man’s game so I don’t see it ever being openly welcoming to the views of women.
LBB: Was there ever a point in your career in media, where you felt that being a woman was difficult?
AS: Hahaha ALWAYS!
LBB: Having worked with so many amazing artists, who has been your favorite to work with?
AS: Q-tip and The Roots. Q-tip because he brought something out of me I didn’t know I had. The Roots because we’ve known each other so long it’s just fun and free. It came naturally. That’s my favorite space to make music in.
LBB: With so many accomplishments under your belt, what is another goal you plan on reaching in your career?
AS: Honestly I don’t feel like I’ve done much. I have so many goals I’ve yet to reach. I still need to do a solo art show in NYC. I want my own TV show in the vein of the Chris Rock show. I want to publish some books. I want to be djaying for big crowds, corporate, and fashion/art events. I mean the list goes on and on!
LBB: Do you ever feel overwhelmed? How do you stay so incredibly focused and organized with so many passions and projects constantly on the way?
AS: I feel overwhelmed all the time. Just trying to make sure I’m on track and moving in the direction I should be. Also just trying to balance being creative with being my own pr and often my own manager is hella difficult. Luckily though I am surrounded by great people and finally have the makings of a team that helps take some of the weight off of my shoulders. Fact is, and I’ll be the first to tell you, nobody really has it all together or figured out. No matter what their facebook/twitter may tell you!
LBB: Has it been easy to juggle these things and still manage your personal life?
AS: Personal life? Lol
LBB: What advice would you give to a young girl interested in pursuing the world of Hip Hop?
AS: It’s bigger than hip hop. You can root yourself in it but allow yourself to grow up and out of it!