Something’s Amis |

Something’s Amis

Special to the Daily

Quick, pick the hardest-rocking instrument: Drums? Guitar? Bass?Try French horn.”I started writing pop music for fun, and because French horn is my instrument, I just incorporated it,” says Amie Margoles, singer and bandleader for Amie Amis. “I was wondering if I could pull it off, but I drew influence form Louis Armstrong who played his horn and sang, and when I learned Vanessa Williams played French horn on her album, I was like, ‘I’ve gotta make this.'”

Margoles had been playing with a jazz group, and when they heard her songs, they urged her to lead them in a new group as singer and French horn player, and so Amie Amis was born. Amie Amis (‘friends of Amie’ in French) specializes in a not-easily-categorizable blend of lounge-pop and jazz, with occasional blasts of Pixies-ish power pop thrown in for good measure. Think a slinky, live Stereolab fronted by a stylishly modern Betty Boop.

“People always end up loving it, but at first a lot of people don’t know what to expect,” Margoles says. “In New York bars (when we get on stage) people are looking at each other, not knowing what they’re going to hear, but when the music starts, even the Wall Street guys dance and move.”When Margoles isn’t fronting Amie Amis, the New York-based session musician plays for Broadway shows, records with orchestras for commercial recordings and makes live appearance backing superstars like Jay-Z and Diana Krall.”Diana Krall sort of singled me out because I had dyed-pink hair at the time and she loved it,” Margoles says. “She said she would color her hair pink, too, if her publicist would let her.” Margoles grew up in Boulder and started playing at 12; she studied classical French horn at University of Northern Colorado before moving to New York. She cowrote several of the songs on her debut self-titled album with college friend and Colorado musician Rick Thompson; he’ll hear some of these songs when he performs with her at Mango’s with his Denver band, Squid Circus.”He’s my collaborator – we just started writing these songs for fun,” Morgoles says. “It’s exciting – he doesn’t know what to expect or how they’ll come out live. We were actually thinking about how he might guest with us on stage.”

Thompson is surprised and delighted at Margoles success with the batch of songs they’ve crafted over the years.”We were friends in college, and we just started writing these wacky songs – next thing I know she’s playing them with a full band,” he says. “This’ll be the first time I’ll see them live. Every time she comes out, we write a tune – we’ve got a whole back catalog.”Margoles leads a seven-piece band that includes guitar, bass, drums, trumpet, two saxophonists in addition to her vocals and French horn. While Margoles has played her horn for years, she only started singing when she started the band, a surprising fact given her assured use of a sultry, torch-song voice that she occasionally punctuates with playful, Bjork-style yelps.”It took a couple of years to learn what the timing is (for singing and playing French horn),” she says. “I started singing when I put the band together; it’s starting all over from scratch, and I’m happy I did that. I’m taking voice lessons – I like to be up front and on stage, so I figured, ‘well, I better take lessons.'”Margoles usually writes music at the piano and writes countermelodies on French horn; she then takes it and arranges the final product with the band. As she tours the country later this year in support of her new disc, she knows her crack-band of jazzmen will back her all the way.”It was the greatest situation because I was playing jazz with all these guys and they happened to love my pop music,” she says. “They said, ‘arrange it for us and we’d love to play it with you.’ They even loved that I’d be vocalist. Without their encouragement, I don’t know if I would’ve pulled it together.”Arts & Entertainment writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or Daily, Vail, Colorado

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