With a soulful-but-sweet voice and an arsenal of rousing electro-pop songs, Amanda Mair is heir apparent to the Next Big Thing throne. She just needs to graduate from high school first.
The 17-year-old Swedish songstress has been singing, playing piano, and dancing since she was seven, but only recently has turning her love for music into a career become a real option. “I hadn’t been thinking about releasing an album or anything like that, and when I met Johan [Angergard] from [the record label] Labrador I was like, OK, this is a funny thing. But this is like a dream come true for me,” Mair says.
The rest has happened quickly: After Labrador signed Mair, they set her up with songs (she does hope to write her own lyrics, eventually), brought her in to record them, and then released her out into the wild (most recently, she spent her spring break in New York, not to sight see but to make her US debut). The acclaim has been almost immediate, with music bloggers throwing around comparisons to Dusty Springfield, Kate Bush, Stevie Nicks, and Lykke Li. The truth is that while Mair owes a great debt to the female vocalists who have come before her, the stylish gap-toothed singer masterfully creates a persona that is all her own—and one that she has only just begun to develop.
You can hear it on “Sense,” the just-released first single off of her self-titled debut album (which gets its stateside release in early June). Mair’s voice soars during the slow-building chorus while tinkering synths and a steady beat back her up. But that’s not the song that she connects the most with; that honor goes to “Doubt,” an ‘80s-inflected, radio-ready track about fear and expectations. “For me, it’s about the beginning in my music career until today. It’s like the whole trip,” says Mair. But despite lyrics like, “I always stay true to my doubt,” the musician says that the best advice she’s received thus far has been to stay true to herself. “Johan always says to me, ‘You have to be Amanda. Not someone else.’ He never tells me to wear something or be someone else or say something else. And I think if you’re the person you want to be and if you’re yourself, you will succeed,” Mair notes, adding, “That’s how I roll.”