With a variety of skills under her belt, we caught up with musician, producer, screenwriter, director and photographer Aminah Hughes! Read on to hear about her exciting double win at the New York IMA Awards, her songwriting and filmmaking inspiration, and exciting plans for the future.
I am from Perth, Australia, and I was born in Queensland. Unlike other local families playing Aussie rock, we played American music. I’ve lived in Australia, Switzerland and Ireland, and have travelled around Europe, USA, Asia and the Middle East. It’s true to say that I’ve been influenced by the music everywhere I’ve gone!
In high school, I trained in classical and baroque music. However, I explored everything from 80s hip-hop to Aretha Franklin, and started DJ’ing deep house and drum & bass. Then, I came to songwriting through poetry. I was studying directing and screenwriting in film school, and was doing a Bachelor of English. I had to choose a minor, and I chose poetry. From there, I got the idea of writing songs for other people. I never intended to become a professional singer, but people encouraged me and now I don’t want to stop!
I ended up recording on eleven albums in Australia and Europe before producing my debut solo album, which we recorded in Ireland, Australia, USA and Germany. I’ve always been a solo artist with different configurations of my band, depending on where I was. What I’m doing now blends folk, alt. country and blues, but I’m also playing with jazz and spoken word to bring poetry back in.
Thank you! I won the industry award for Best Alt. Country Song (“Storm of Time”) and the audience-chosen award for Best Director, Short Form Music Video (“I Need to Learn”).
It felt huge for me to win both an industry and audience award, and equally huge to win as both a songwriter and director on the same night. Everything I do, whether writing, music or filmmaking, is about storytelling. Though I’ve focused more on one or the other at times, they’re each an important thread of creative expression for me.
My approach to songwriting and performing is about having the courage to stand up and say what you want to say regardless of what anybody thinks. However, my approach is to have the spirit of compassion that honours the need in everybody to be heard – so it was great that this resonated with audiences. Over the years, I have been told to choose between music and filmmaking, so to be recognised in both crafts simultaneously was affirming.
I’ve been a member for a couple of years. It’s a fantastic platform! The idea of having a centralised place where creators can meet, collaborate and pitch their work, and music supervisors can find the perfect song for their project, is truly wonderful.
I actually recently launched a project on Music Gateway to let people know that I have a home studio where I can record, comp and clean vocals for their project. I have recorded vocals on various film, TV and game projects so I would really like to get involved with some other projects!
Click below to take a look at Aminah’s project and get involved:
Keep going, no matter what. Believe in yourself like you are your own child. Make the music that you secretly want to make, and don’t worry about what people think. Stay authentic to yourself and get inspired. The first album I fell in love with was Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”. I connected it with her music because it spoke to me in ways that nobody else’s did. She constantly inspires me to tell the truth in my songwriting. So, I would say find your inspiration and let it guide you in terms of what kind of creator you want to be!
I’m working on a new album that explores my relationship to my home country. I was inspired to write a collection of songs that reflect my experience as an Australian woman living and travelling in different parts of the country and overseas. It explores social politics and identity, playing with elements of folk and jazz. It’s an offering, in a way, of a deeply personal portrait of modern Australian life. I’m also writing a feature film that I’m very excited about!
My aim as a writer, performer and recording artist (currently and in the future) is to create and maintain connection with listeners and to draw them into the song’s story. I aim to create awareness, empathy or inspiration, but above all, a shared experience that they can connect with emotionally. Even when my writing becomes political, its aim is to be beautiful and accessible.
2020 has been a year of upheaval that has thrown us all, but that has also presented opportunities for real systemic change. We, as artists, are in a unique position in that we have a platform and an audience available to us. We can use that platform to rise up or to tear down. If we take the responsibility seriously, we as creatives and professional collaborators have the ability to contribute to great shifts in the collective consciousness. That’s a commitment we can all make, and something that’s very important to me.
We hope you enjoyed reading all about Aminah! Music Gateway is also here to help you. Find people to collaborate and work with in our global community, promote your music, get your music featured in film, tv, games, adverts and more! The best part is that you can try Music Gateway for free, no strings attached, just sign up below.