Over the course of her career, Amanda Williams has amassed a slew of credentials. Musician. Singer. Sound production artist. Teacher. Retail sales associate. Repair tech.
Personally, I have been exposed to all of her skills, save for teacher. She’s run sound for me at the Relay for Life. Waited on me at Jubilee Music, and entertained me at a Gypsea Souls gig.
From my perspective, each duty was performed with aplomb.
I posed a few questions to her and she responded, thusly:
Q: What brought you to the Outer Banks?
A: I’m originally from Nashville, North Carolina. My college sweetheart and now ex-husband was from Kitty Hawk. When we separated, I decided to stay in the place that had become home.
Q: How would describe your music?
A: It’s a collection of different influences. My original music clearly has its rock roots, but there is still a strong singer-songwriter vibe. I consciously try to steer away from that and be more riff-oriented with more straight forward arrangement and melodic structures, so I can play my music with a full band.
Q: Who is your greatest musical influence?
A: Parallel to falling in love with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Rodgers & Hammerstein, I was digging Guns n’ Rose’s “Appetite for Destruction” and everything Aerosmith. Aerosmith was definitely my gateway drug. I was about 12, and quickly dove into album after album. I have a great affection for soul and Motown music. The beauty in ugliness is something that I cling to no matter what the genre is. I want to hear Aretha or Sam Cooke clip out the mic during a recording. I want to hear the banshee wails from Robert Plant, and the swampy gravel in John Fogerty’s voice. I want to hear that paired with beautiful harmonies and arrangements.
Q: What is it about music that touched you?
A: I think its full spectrum. It’s more than the music. I love the production about as much as the music itself. When I began seeing performances, I was as intrigued by the way it sounded. It is a beautiful thing when the production can complement the emotion the artist on stage is trying to invoke.
Q: The first concert you attended?
A: Aerosmith/KISS when I was in high school. Was way more impressed with KISS than Aerosmith.
Q: Are you self-taught?
A: I think in many ways I am self-taught, but I do have a degree in music with a performance concentration on vocals. I took basic methods courses on piano. After moving down here and getting involved with one the churches, I found myself precariously in the position of keyboard player. So, I figured it out.
Q: How many different musical projects are you involved in?
A: I am half of a duo called Gypsea Souls with Brad Privott. We play a variety of familiar easy-going tunes from classic hits, reggae, country, and rock all mixed together to create an enjoyable environment for those having dinner or drinks. My “full band” is Betty On Patrol. Just have a really fun rock ‘n’ roll show. I also play keys and sing for two churches: Kitty Hawk Methodist and Duck Methodist.
Q: What’s your favorite venue(s) on the Outer Banks?
A: Duck has it going on with its concerts on the green. The Tap Shack at Cravings. Roadside’s backyard. Art’s Place Jazz Night. Brewing Station. Any of the local festivals.
Q: What do you do in the off-season? Do you have a day job? If so, what do you do?
A: I’m a live sound technician. I work with many of the local artists and some bigger names, too. Weekdays, I work at Jubilee Music Store, where I take care of inventory and do various instrument repairs on woodwind and brass instruments and most string instruments. I am an instructor with the Mustang Outreach Program, along with Ruth Wyand. Also, I teach private beginning piano and percussion lessons. Occasionally, I work for Max Radio as a board operator, bouncing between several of the local radio stations.
Q: If you could choose an era in which to perform music, what would it be?
A: I wish I was able to be performing and recording in the late ’60s through the ’70s. The way everyone was experimenting with the whole process of music making was magic. It would have been difficult to be involved in that world, with more sacrifice, travel, and more sexual discrimination and abuse as a woman working as a technician, as well as a musician.
Q: Do you listen to new music?
A: I try to. The kids that I work with can make me feel a bit out of touch, so I try to stay ahead of that. I am particularly interested in the band called Gretta von Fleet because their songs sound like outtakes from Led Zeppelin’s first couple of records.
Q: Did you ever consider quitting music and doing something else?
A: Doesn’t everyone? It’s so entangled in my life that I think it would be more difficult to stop than continue.
Q: McCartney or Lennon?
A: Once, I probably would have chosen John, but I like Paul’s music more. Can’t deny the cute one.
Q: Where were you the first time you performed onstage?
A: I’m sure at church. I was probably around 4.
Q: Writing a song, is it positive or negative inspiration that drives you?
A: I think the best ones come from a place of tension. It can be a beautiful, happy love song, but let there be a sense of pining or hardship that goes along with that happiness. That’s kinda life. I’m over the angry or heartbroken writing because I’m over being angry and heartbroken.
Q: Your favorite album?
A: If I was forced to pick: My gut is telling me to pick Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti.” It kinda changed my world.