Monday, November 9, 2009
I had a chance not too long ago to witness a truly gifted artist perform. Her name is Amanda Abizaid, a singer/songwriter transplanted from her home in Beirut, Lebanon at the early age of ten. She had garnered quite a bit of attention as of late for her theme to the The 4400, Lifetimes Odd Girl Out and a few movie songs.
Beirut to the US at ten years of age had to be a tough move. “It was a pretty big adjustment for me. I had an accent and kids made fun of the way I talked. I had to stay back a year because the educational system in the US is ahead of Lebanon. My dad stayed in Lebanon and my brother and I were home schooled by my mom as we lived with my grandma not knowing when we were going back to Lebanon or if we were going to be staying in the US in New York.This went on for three years until my parents got divorced and decided to have my mom stay in the US with me. My brother and dad stayed in Lebanon and we got a house and then things started to become more normal, I guess you could say. I never realized the impact of war on me until recently as an adult being married and learning about myself and my personality. I am very happy now and have let a lot of stuff go to leave behind (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome). I never realized that I had been living my life as if I was temporary and in a survivor mode. Now, I am living in the present and have grown past this experience and embrace life here in the US,” commented Amanda.
Her newest CD, “In The Loop”, is a step back for her on a line more typical of her beginnings. “My last CD, The Great Plan Volume II”, was about four years of my life, an 11 song story of what I was going through. I was really depressed and was trying to find a plan to get out and survive this life. As a solo artist and with my new success of “The 4400” and not knowing what to do about all of the fans around the world and internet stuff that was going on about me. “In The Loop” was mainly recorded to drum loops instead of the normal way of recording which would be live with my band mates playing all of their instruments. I was experimenting with protools and looking for a new sound and finding out what I could create to try a new vibe. It is an eclectic EP which talks about peace instead of war on many levels.”
Amanda’s fear of singing actually led her to dabble in hair dressing and modeling. “I have fought my fear of singing my whole life. I will always be singing now and I actually do hair and makeup here in LA and have a personal clientele as well as cutting and coloring. Modeling ended when my music career began at the end of the runaway during a show in Miami when I almost started to sing. That’s when I knew I had to move to LA and pursue my music. I am an artist and I really want to be respected as one and now I embrace my two artistic talents and hope to inspire others to pursue theirs as well.”
Your lyrics are full of so much feeling and emotion. How do you approach song writing? What kind of process do you have or do you even have one? “I sometimes dream my songs or someone has an effect on my life and a song starts happening for me that way. Sometimes I am just hanging out strumming a cord and an idea comes to me. It is kinda random like that. I basically am able when I feel that a song is coming on, it feels like a wave in my brain, a sort of numbing feeling where I can’t do anything else for however long it takes to get it out. The most important thing to do at that time is be able to get it down no matter what time it is even when I wake up at 4 am and record and then go back to sleep three hours later. That’s fun!”
You and Stephanie Erdel had a very successful LA Woman summer tour. Do you have any interesting road stories to share with our readers? “Well, Stephanie’s guitar breaking in Ellenville, NY was bad. That was the worst I guess and losing her keys in Nashville, which we found $60 later from Fed Ex that I had to pay for. Yucky! The best would be in Decatur, GA where we had a show and no one showed up. This was a first. It was a lesbian bar and right as we were packing up to leave, these two women came in and said they were there to see us. So, I said sure, let’s just do an unplugged version of six songs or so for them. The women sat in two chairs in front of us and between songs asked us questions about our tour and what we were doing and how we able to afford it and how it was going. When we were done, we sat at the bar and one of the women came up to me and said that she was a writer and that she had given up on her dream but now that she was so impressed by my dream and courage to pursue it that I had inspired her to write again. She thanked me so much for this inspiration and said ‘Here I want you to have this’. It was a folded up check and I thanked her. I didn’t open it until later and I thought that she probably gave us &50 or something. I opened it and thought I was losing my eyesight. It said $500…..never judge an empty room.”
So, with all of this touring and recording, how do you spend your down time? Or do you even get any? “I hang out with my husband on our “date night” and our two cats. I hike and walk a lot. I am a Buddhist now for the last year and a half so I chant in the morning and evening and am active with the community and am a Unit leader. I go out and support other artists with their gigs too. I love to go to Trader Joes and food shop. I like to say hi to people and smile a lot too and save animals whenever I can.”
Any guilty pleasures that may surprise your fans? “Well, I love the Chipmunks Christmas CD and listen to it every Christmas. I am like Snow White and I always talk to the animals in the park when I hike. I say “Hello Mr. Squirrel, how are you today?” and to the birds too. I also eat Rocky Road ice cream out of the container and chocolate ice cream too and load it with whip cream. HE! HE! Those are my secrets!”
Amanda has a personality that is very captivating. She just radiates positive energy to those in her surroundings. Her performance that night with Stephanie Erdel was very thought provoking. With a mixture of styles and influences ranging from Crosby, Stills and Nash to Dido to Kate Bush, she is not your typical flavor of the week in our stagnant music industry. Check out her music at www.myspace.com/amandaabizaid or at www.amandaabizaid.com.