North London singer and songwriter Amber Olivier is certainly on her mission to secure herself firmly within the music audioscape. Her debut self-titled EP, which dropped this past Friday showcases the R&B newcomer’s soft, sultry yet soulful voice, giving an alluring introduction to the British vocalist. Her first installment explores the theme of relationships and the acknowledged presence of absence.

Amber Olivier’s sound dances between an acute R&B sensibility and sprawling atmospheric tangents. Coming from their artistic apex, Olivier effortlessly brings an unmatchable eloquence and sensual edge. The undertow of emotion lends the EP its own distinct life. Teaming up with a close unit of esteemed producers, the EP features collaborations from Grammy-nominated Brent Faiyaz, Virginia whizkid Masego and Sonder’s very own Atu and Dpat.

In this conversation, Amber opens up about her journey evolving her craft into a career, how she feels about the current state of R&B and the message she hopes to deliver through her first project.

Where is your family from and what inspires your music?

My dad's from Trinidad, he great up around East London. My mum is from Liverpool and she moved down to London as well. They had my brother, then me, and I basically grew up in North London. My dad was a DJ, and he still is. I grew up around a lot of 90s music, 90s R&B specifically, like Slum Village and Sade, my mum used to sing a lot of Whitney Houston ballads around the house, and my brother listened to a lot of rap. So I was pretty well-rounded when it came to music.

How did you decide to make R&B music instead of other genres that were influencing you at the time?

I obviously liked R&B, but I kind of didn't grow up wanting to be a singer, it was never really an option; I just liked to sing and doing covers and what-not. A lot of people around me, like my brother, were producing so I thought, "Why not? Let me try this." So I started dabbling and making my own little songs before this EP, I was 16 I was just kind of like recording here and there with my brothers or close friends I knew, and then I realized I really liked it and wanted to take it further. So it was kind of just a hit-or-miss trial run thing.

R&B as a genre has changed a bit in the past few years and people seem to be missing the 90s era; even Brent's album Sonder Son is very reminiscent of that sound. How do you feel about the current state of R&B and how it's evolving?

I think everyone can agree that nothing compares to the Timbaland and Aaliyah era. No one is really gonna be able to bring it back and do it well unless like... I don't know, honestly. I feel like Brent's stuff is very nostalgic but it's still fresh. I don't feel like he's gone and copied the old stuff, he's got so many hints of great artists in that era but has also added his own twist, you know? I don't know if I'm biased, but he's my favorite artist at the moment. I'm always gonna love R&B but I don't think that anybody who runs with that 90s R&B sound can really get it right unless they really studied it and are gonna do it in a way that's still fresh. But I do like what people are doing with contemporary R&B these days though, I'm a fan.

How did you go from dabbling with music to taking it more seriously and turning it into a career?

It was big jump because someone heard me sing when I was 16 and they instantly wanted to work with me. So months passed and they brought me out to L.A. and worked with a bunch of producers who were kind of vultures, they wanted me for the wrong reasons. I felt like I was too young for this; they were trying to push my image more than anything. So I took a step back from that experience and then I stopped singing overall because it kind of put me off. I went to work a normal job and then I randomly was in L.A. one day and someone showed me Brent Faiyaz's music when nobody knew who he was. I was like, "I have to work with this guy." I don't know why it inspired me to start singing again, but then I just hit him up and he said he actually wanted to write with me, so I was super excited. I traveled to L.A. literally just to work with him and it turned out to be sick and we had really good chemistry. We've grown pretty much together before any of it kicked off (he didn't even have an EP when we started working together), we became super tight, and then he helped me write my own EP!

Was he the one who also introduced you to the producers on your EP, like Paper Boy Fabe and the rest of those guys?

Yeah for sure, the producers who've worked on my EP are all in-house so it's only about five guys. It was Brent, Atu, Dpat, Fabe, etc. They were really all people that we knew well. My manager wanted to keep it that way as well because it's risky at the early stages to work with people you don't know, since you don't know how they're gonna be, if they're gonna hold tracks from you or be funny. And I had had a lot of experiences that had gone left, so I just needed to be around people that I trusted and that I knew were gonna get the job done and support me, which they did. They all genuinely like me as a person and they like my music, so nothing felt forced. I didn't actually ask anyone to help me with the EP, they all kind of just jumped on on their own.

When collaborations happen organically the end result usually sounds more honest and pure... that energy tends to shine through.

Exactly. I started this whole thing when I was 18 and then I got sidetracked and things didn't go right, but I think all of that had to happen in order for me to get to where I am now; I had to go through those things.

The EP sounds very consistent, I think that's one of the advantages of working with in-house producers who are also inspired by each other. What can new listeners expect from your debut EP? What do you hope that they can take away from it?

Honestly, I find this whole thing funny because I never intended to be a singer and I'm just now getting used to the fact that I'm an artist because I've never actually claimed to be an artist until now. All of it was me just falling into this situation and seeing how it went, so the fact that this has come together so well is actually shocking to me. I'm really happy about that, but I just hope no one sees me as imitating anyone else or compares me to others. I hope they get the feeling of how I felt when I was making it, which was just pure, organic, natural, chilled energy. I tend to be super critical about my own work, but I actually like these songs! It's stuff that I would listen to in the car, so I feel like a lot of my friends, who have similar taste as me in music and compliment my taste, will enjoy it. I just tried to match it up with what I usually listen to. Overall, I hope new listeners feel like it's a breath of fresh air.

If you could describe the album in five words, what would you say are the main themes of the album?

Definitely heartbreak, but also trust, the past, discovery... it's like a diary. It's very honest.

How are you feeling about going on tour?

I stopped being nervous a couple of weeks ago because I just realized that it's not that much pressure, it's not my show, I just want to enjoy this, and I think people just want to enjoy it rather than have the perfect artist opening for Brent. I feel super privileged that he even asked me to join him in the first place, so I have to take this blessing. I'm excited right now but I do think I'll get nervous when I see the crowd because I've never really performed before.

It's definitely gonna be a challenge but I'm sure you'll do well. Any final words with the tour on the horizon and your debut out in the world?

Honestly this is just weird to me... This is very odd for me to get used to, this is my first interview ever! But I think I'm gonna be surprised by how it all goes and by how people react, but I don't know. I hope that it comes across as an honest piece of work and that people receive it well. That's all I hope for really, I'm not thinking too far ahead yet. I just wanna enjoy the ride. I didn't really ask to be in the industry, I didn't really care for it, and I don't really care for what comes with it, I see that as a bonus. It's cool that we get support and it's cool that we get to do all this traveling but I could've just done my 9-5 job and been quite happy. So I just think if I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna have to do it properly, so it has got to be about the music first.