Amanie Illfated is a Toronto based and Sudanese born Pop singer who incorporates dynamic lyrics with an eclectic, often ethnic sound. She titles herself as a singer, writer, model, and dreamer, not to mention a website designer and author. With so many responsibilities, as soon as we connected with Amanie, one of the first questions we asked was how she juggles it all. We also asked about the special meaning behind her name as well as how her upbringing in South Sudan and immigration to Canada are reflected in her music and much more.
Tell us about your name Amanie Illfated; what does the 'illfated' mean?
When I first started, I was having a sort of "name/identity" crisis. I finally settled on the name I was given when my family came to Canada: Amanie. it means 'peace' in Swahili, 'wishes' in Arabic and in my tribal language of Kakwa, it means 'to be hated against'. I felt that was suitable since my whole life, I felt like everything I was or did was hated against. My album was supposed to be called 'illfated', which was meant as a sarcastic statement to those who thought your future, fate and fortune will be bad, but you do it anyway. My fans started to call me "amanie illfated" despite how many times I tried to correct them, so I just stuck with it.
How would you say that your upbringing in South Sudan and immigration to Canada is reflected in your music?
Quite bluntly, it was hellish growing up being South Sudanese while also being Canadian. South Sudanese culture is very conservative, whereas Canadian culture is very liberal. My music sort of became that outlet for all the things I wasn't allowed to flaunt or say being from South Sudan - like the ups and downs of love or depression. Also, my parents pushed us (my siblings and me) to listen to a lot of African music when we were younger, so we wound up rebelling and discovering all of the "American" genres we weren't allowed to listen to. The one I loved the most was pop and electronic music.
What are you most proud of from your 'Amanie Illfated' project?
When I started my musical ventures, I was doing it slightly selfishly. I wanted to put out music just for me and I never cared too much about anything else. The moment I realized that people were listening and were affected by my music, I realized that music is so much bigger than pushing out songs. I am proud that I get to help people feel - no matter what the emotion, they are feeling something. On top of that, I am proud to be able to show other South Sudanese girls that there is a way to make it in this industry.
You wear a lot of hats, as a singer-songwriter, producer, model, author, artist, and web-designer. How do you juggle it all and is there one that brings you the most joy?
I think the big hat closet is where I find the most trouble. I'm not going to lie: it is HARD to go from singer to producer, to model to web designer to business manager and still keep the delicate, emotional artist inside. The way I juggle it is by working at a steady pace. For example, when I am in studio recording, I am a singer but for a few moments of that studio session, I will look at what I am doing through the eyes of an artist, then through the eyes of a business manager, etc. I take my time to think about it through every perspective first and then make decisions accordingly. This way, I don't stress myself out or become discouraged. I also had to learn to not be afraid to ask for help. Just because you have many hats, doesn't mean you need to wear them all at once!
The one that gives me the most joy would be being a singer in the studio. There, I can be my total self and I don't feel judged or anything.
What are your thoughts about the music scene in Toronto? Is the local population supportive of local talent?
It's a love/hate relationship with the scene here in Toronto. I love that there is so much opportunity to start no matter what. If you are business minded and music focused, you will do very well in this city. The part I don't like is that some people do try to take advantage of you and your music. So you have to be very cautious. I do like, though, that most local artists are able to drop the competitive attitude and support other local artists too.
The local population is fairly supportive of the talent in the city, but I heard someone put the Canadian population (including Toronto) into perfect perspective: Canada acts like parents: they will raise their local artists, but will want them to leave home soon. Artists will have to leave the country and become successful elsewhere and Canada will peek above the fence (border) and check in to see how their babies are doing.
What's next for you musically and when can we see you on the stage performing songs from 'Amanie Illfated'?
Currently, I'm launching a big promotion for my most recent album, so there will be a lot of shows, radio play and music videos coming out. I'm also getting to start a very big project called "Saturn & Titan", which will include brand new pop music but also reggae and AfroFusion. My next big show will be at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. I'll have new songs and I will be backed this amazing reggae band called Feeling the One Drop!