For most people, a ruined birthday wouldn’t want to be something they would want to relive. By that logic, I guess Amelie Jat, an emerging singer/songwriter from Hong Kong, isn’t most people. As in the basement of the London-famous Troubadour music venue in Earls Court, Amelie relived her last 4 birthdays, putting herself back in that head space for the sake of her soon-to-be-released single, You Ruined My Birthday.
Amelie Jat is a buzzing spark of a person. With bright pink hair and an even brighter attitude, Amelie lives for her music. Having started her singer/songwriter career at age of fourteen with a self-released album, Amelie turned a just-for-fun project into, what I can only describe as, a very promising career in music.
Accompanied by her mother, who I am going to refer to as ‘DJ Jat’ as her main job for the day (besides supporting her daughter) was restarting the music, manager James and favourite cameraman Elliot, the You Ruined My Birthday music video shoot was well underway. From performance shots to flashback cutscenes, Amelie was a natural. Also starring in the music video was Oscar, playing the role of the barman who takes pity on Amelie for spending her birthday alone in a pub. Never having met before, the chemistry between the two was natural and fun, making the promise of the finished product even more exciting.
The song itself is definitely one for fans of Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo. An upbeat but stroppy teenage song with infectious lyrics and a subject matter that we can all sadly relate to. Amelie’s music is current, her attitude is fresh but humble and from what I can tell of the 20-year-old emo barbie (you’ll understand when you watch the video), she has all the makings of someone who was made for the spotlight. With DJ Jat by her side, and a manager with over 20 years experience of working in the music industry, Amelie Jat is a name worth getting to know.
When did you first know you wanted to get into music?
So, I started writing songs when I was 11 just for fun, but I think I really decided I wanted to do this when I was 16. So I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan – that was kind of a big part of it. At that point in my life, I was really obsessed with The Vamps, and they were just so inspiring. I saw them live at the O2 for one of their tours, I was 16 and I was like, “I wanna be doing what they're doing by the time I’m their age.” And then I decided, you know what, I’m going to make it happen. So, I self-released my first album when I was still in school – just for fun. I didn’t think it was actually going to get commercial or anything, I just really wanted to write and release things – it was a first step forward.
School isn’t always the best place to nurture creativity [because of the stress of studying], how did you juggle your music and your studies?
My school was so supportive. My Music Director actually got me my producer now! I went up to him and I was like, “I want to make an album.” He was like, “OK, I’ll get you a producer.” I thought he was kidding. When that happened I was like 14 – I wasn’t serious about it but I was writing songs. I thought it would be so cool to put that into a collection and he was like, “OK I’ll get you a producer.” They were so amazingly supportive about all of it. Obviously the whole school/music balance is always going to be tough because you do have to do the schoolwork, but I just basically wrote songs in any free moment I had. I’m at university right now as well, so the balance is still a thing - I still have to try and juggle both, but it’s just what I do in my free time I guess.
Other than Taylor Swift, who were your influences growing up and have they changed at all?
Erm, so this is going to sound really sad, but I only pretty much listened to Taylor Swift when I was growing up – if we’re talking about when I was thirteen kind of thing. So, I guess not really in that way. Right now, I’m really inspired by artists like Maggie Lindeman, she’s really cool. Maisie Peters, Lolo… so these are people that I listen to and I’m like “OMG, they’re so amazing.” I really love what they’re doing.
So I can see you’ve got your Mum here with you. Did you always have the support of your family, and if so, how important do you think that is when it comes to considering a creative / artistic career as a viable option?
My family, especially my parents, have been behind me the whole time, supporting me the whole time. I’m so incredibly lucky. We’re from Hong Kong and I’m not gonna lie, the music thing isn’t exactly like… as a social norm in our society, it’s not exactly the most stable career, right. I mean, that’s kind of universal, but in a culture that’s not as like… I don’t know the word for it. I just think I’m really lucky to have had parents who have always said do whatever you want to do. They’ve always been like, “we really believe in you and you should do what you want to do.” They’ve never been like, “we want you to be like this, so you have to be like this.” I know there are so many people out there who have made it without this kind of support, so it’s not that it’s unachievable, but I’m very aware that for my career it’s been such an important part of it. I’m just so lucky.
What would you say was the hardest thing about the music industry?
This song is about a ruined birthday, and you’ve had some ruined birthdays in the past so that’s where the inspiration for this song comes from. When it comes to writing other songs, where have you pulled inspiration from?
Also things that have happened in my actual life. Whether that’s specific events or people or relationships, I try to write about my own experiences because otherwise it doesn’t feel as real [if I don’t]. I have tried to write songs before that are almost fictional, or fictional with a twist of reality, but they don’t feel as real. I think other people - whether that be my audience or in general – people want to hear things that are real because they can connect with the artist as well. Sorry to bring this back to Taylor Swift but a lot of her fans, being one myself, love that she writes about real things and we connect with her on that level. Like, “Oh, this happened to me too.” Maybe not exactly in the same way but we have that connection and it’s like, “Oh, I’m not alone in this.” I think I just want my listeners to feel like that. Like this song is about a ruined birthday because people do sometimes have ruined birthdays. It’s a bit sad, but it’s not a super terrible bad thing. Sometimes people cry on their birthdays and I’m like, “shout out to those people.” If they feel like they’re alone for having bad birthdays, it’s like, “no no no no no”, it’s a common feeling it’s OK. It’s OK to have a ruined birthday, it doesn't mean you have a ruined life, it's just one day of the year.
On days when you have a creative block (like we all do), how do you get yourself out of it?
I actually try to not be creative if that makes any sense. That sounds really weird but I don’t try to actively force myself to finish the song or anything like that. There was a song I wrote over [the] summer, where I got to the point of writing the bridge, and I was really stuck. “None of these ideas are working.” For songwriting, it’s like you know what’s right for the song and what isn’t – it’s a gut feeling. So, I left it for like 3 days, I did anything but write. Then, it was like 3 days later and I was in the shower and, “Oh my gosh! This is it, this is the right bridge for this song.” It might even be something I wrote ages ago for something else, but then I’ll remember it and I just know. Most of the time that happens.
It’s the one place you don’t have your phone or a piece of paper as well!
I’ll be humming it in my head on repeat. I’ll come out of the shower and someone will try and talk to me and I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no, let me just record this first!”
What do you want your listeners to take away from each song?
I hope my listeners realise that a lot of the things they go through, they aren’t going through them alone. It’s OK to feel a certain way, and that things will get better. It’s OK to feel what you feel in the moment. Submerge yourself into it so you can actually feel it because you’ll always come out on the other side stronger and everything will be OK.
If you could send a message to your younger self, what would you say?
If I had to give a message to my younger self, I would just tell her to just throw herself into everything she does because it’s always better to try and take a risk than it is to not take the risk!
What advice would you give to young musicians like yourself who want to get into the industry?
If I had to give other musicians some advice, I would say you have to believe in yourself and keep working hard, it will all pay off in the end. Every step along the way makes a difference.
You Ruined My Birthday is Amelie’s sixth single release under her new management. The single and music video will be released March 31 and will be available on Spotify and other music streaming platforms.
All images were taken on site by the writer.