Amanda Winterhalter Interview


by: Amanda Winterhalter

Published on August 22nd, 2017 in interviews

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Has a song ever grown on you? I've certainly had it happen to me. But the really special ones, the ones that you keep returning to, don't they hook you right away?

I don't remember what I was listenening to before I clicked on Amanda's song, "Shirt". I only remember feeling a total shift in my attention. Right away I was thinking: WOW. In a large sea of music made with electronics/effects/pedals/plugins, I was hearing something unquestionably real.

I then listened to the rest of "Olea", growing more and more certain with each listen that I'd found a special piece of art and a really talented artist. Like other times in my life as a music-fan, I was reminded by Amanda's songs that music can in fact grow on you immediately! (And when it does, it's easy to lose yourself in the melodies, stories, and feelings that come through it).

In the next section, Amanda was kind enough to answer questions about her music. I hope you'll find the interview interesting and will check out Olea on bandcamp, linked at the bottom of the page.

The Interview

Q: When did you first start playing music? Have you always been writing songs?

I took piano lessons from about age 8 to 11 and started teaching myself guitar when I was 13, with help from some more experienced players. As a teenager, I started writing songs that weren't very good, and finally in my mid-twenties, the songs started meaning something and sounding interesting.

Q: Do you start with a complete story in mind before you write, or does the story develop as you go?

No, there's definitely a starting point - some kind of spark, or a piece of an idea that takes on a lot more muscle as I work it out. Everything I write is inspired or influenced by other stories, whether written or experienced, and the interesting part is seeing how many story references end up in one song, even if the song seems very cohesive. That's part of what I think makes music so powerful - people find themselves and their stories in songs they connect with.

Q: Your full-length, Olea, has both folk and Americana elements as well as hints of bluesy rock. Is there a genre you identify with most (or enjoy the most)?

Hard to pick only one genre I enjoy the most! I probably identify most with roots music - songs that come from oral storytelling traditions. I know that includes a pretty broad swath of styles and genres - blues, folk, gospel, bluegrass, celtic, etc. - but that's where I find the most connection in sound and lyric.

Q: Would you say that Olea has a single theme or multiple themes?

Oh, multiple themes for sure.

Q: Of all songs on the album, which were the most challenging to make?

The Spider was the most challenging to record - there were a lot of different ideas for instrumentation and sound, a lot of different approaches we could have taken, and we didn't want to fuck it up. It's a dark song with sharp edges, but it's also really delicate. I'm usually a fan of minimalism and I think there's often a lot of power in simplicity and in the space between things. At the same time, there were a lot of interesting options for heightening the darkness and edginess of the song. Just making the decisions about what to keep in and what to cut out was challenging. The irony is that this was one of the rare writing experiences when a song spilled out and was done in about an hour of writing and crafting. That's always a surprising experience.

Q: If you could collaborate with any other artist, whether or not they are still living today, who would that be?

Lately I've been crushing hard on some local friends' music. I'd love to collaborate with Reggie Garrett and Annie Ford. If I had to choose famous and established, probably Otis Redding.


It's been really nice to feature two artists now on Bandterviews, and I am REALLY looking forward to more. Thank you for reading, and don't forget to listen to the music below!