Interviews 30 November 2021
Author: Vince

GRM Exclusive: A!MS Talks New Album ‘Offshore’, Fatherhood, Re-Branding & more

30 November 2021

A!MS – formerly known as A.M Sniper – is a mystical character in the UK music scene. Somewhat of an enigma and an artist who has stood the test of time and developed himself both musically and in business. He represents creativity ingenuity and longevity.

In the wake of his new album, we sat to talk to him about his journey so far, what goes into making an album like Offshore, fatherhood and much more. Sharing endless wisdom with A!MS gives us insight that you won’t have heard in other interviews.

Let’s get straight into the album. It’s your first project, you’ve clearly put a lot of work into all of those elements of it. Can you take me through the timeline of like, what that looks like as in creation?

“I was a DJ so whenever I’m going to piece an album together, I’m always going to make sure that through my DJ experience I’m always trying to catch the tempo and make sure the BPM’s mix into each other. When I make music, it’s a secret in my head and I don’t usually talk about it, but I’m competing with Drake, Kanye West and a lot of people might think I’m delusional for doing that. But that’s how good I need my music to be.

“Cool and Dre have also been very, very instrumental in helping me pick the right beats and it’s not by accident that they’re just so renowned. These guys are legends and the fact that they took time out to put effort into my project as Co-Executive Producers means a lot because they don’t watch what’s hyping in the UK or in Europe, they just watch music for what music is They don’t really care about the time that’s revolving around music.

“To me, there’s no bad or good music, there’s art. There shouldn’t be any judgment about it, it is what it is we’ve got to accept it and obviously support it. So Cool & Dre and my whole team, we just sat down, and we tracked it. We had to party with it. We had a dinner party where we just played it and we saw how we felt. We thought that’s the tracklist so let’s run with it.”

Something else that I noticed about this project is your sound, in general, is very unaffected. I can hear that it’s relevant but I can’t hear anybody else. The way that it’s formulated it is almost as if you haven’t listened to any other music. Was this the case?

“I try. I mean saying there are no influences is a lie because you can always get influenced. There are some great UK musicians that are good at what they do. From Skepta to Stormzy to Ed, to even the young kids like Arrdee. There’s some nice musical touches everywhere. But at the same time, I’m kinda like a person that’s stuck in the middle of both worlds. I’m a foreigner to the UK even though I’ve got a British passport and I was raised in Tooting, but I’m a foreigner to the UK. Then I’m a foreigner to Cyprus because they’re like, oh, that’s that English guy that moved over here. So I’ve always been in the middle in this. It’s a case of I just want to make sure it’s my stamp.

“I try to stay out of boxes and I know that’s never been a good thing for me. All the people that gave me advice are always like ‘you need to either do a full rap album etc’. It never fit in, never suited my persona or my soul. I am versatile all round, a very good performer.

“I consider myself to have the best set of ears on the planet alongside the likes of Rick Rubin, Dr Dre, and Pharrell and this project is there to prove to people, for me first and foremost, I can listen to things, I can understand what sonically works and how mixtures of collaborations work.

“The number of great souls and beautiful talent on this project and the array of talent. It has nothing to do with hype, we are literally the hype killers. So, when you look at my album, there are some great features that have a lot of hype behind them. There are some other features that are solely based on creativity.

Some people might not have necessarily understood, seen or witnessed the entirety of the journey. So, being an independent artist at this stage and sort of achieving the things you are, does your mind ever sort of sway to think I want to go down the label route? 

“Yeah, 100% Even this year, it’s been so difficult. Putting this album now like literally just working with the pandemic. I had to reshoot my videos three times because the first time Gabrielle and her crew flew out here, but then they changed the measures so everyone had to fly back or else I would have to pay for everyone quarantining. So this year, I’ve definitely felt like, it would have been simpler to have a label that would support you like on a major scale. But at the same time I kind of feel like if they all knew what they were doing, or if we all knew what we were doing, everyone in a major label would be literally becoming international superstars with every release. And sadly, that’s not the case.

“I think that there’s a big transition happening, I do feel that we need support in terms of moving forward, we need it because I’m overwhelmed. I’ve been sleeping three, four hours per day for the last five months and that’s not because I want to. It’s because it’s the only way to fulfil everything that we need to do. So it’s easier to lose sleep over doing what you love and really just being at it.

“I just feel at the same time that we’ve done it the correct way. Because we’ve learned enough by ourselves in order to facilitate and hold and support everyone that’s involved in our project, even in future major deals that will come our way. Because even there, there are human beings that are still working. And I think the most important thing is to understand that whether you’re in a major label or a major publishing deal, or whether you’re trying to get people at Spotify to love you or Apple, they’re still humans, they also have their issues, their daily problems. So I just like making sure that everyone that touches or comes into contact with me or my energy or my aura, they, they can gain what I gain every day from doing what I do and doing what I love.”

Would you say that’s an approach that comes with being independent for such a long time?

“Maybe. The fact that I’m looking at certain greats, like Beyoncé or Jay Z, and I see how they’ll go and shake everyone’s hand. They respect it. They truly love what they do, you can tell that they genuinely respect the people they come in contact with and what they get from them.  I don’t even class myself as an independent or a major – I class myself as A!MS. I’m just happy because I know what I do is going to stay forever.”

I’d love to just talk about the inspiration behind the lyrical content of this album. You’ve got some stuff you could cry to, you’ve got some stuff you could twerk to. It’s literally on all ends of the spectrum. There are so many different facets of your personality. From your perspective what inspires that?

“Everyone loves cool stories because it helps sell records and create hype, but I’d rather keep my stories to myself with what I’ve been through. I feel that when you come from a certain path in life, and you really know what’s what I don’t think you really want to expose certain things. So I’d rather be about my music, and I love giving full-blown answers in detail. But when it comes to certain things like what I’ve been through, I don’t feel I’m ready to talk about it. Cuz I don’t want people to think I’m utilising it for my personal gain.

“We’re human beings, we have emotions and for me, I wanted the album to make sure there’s something there for every emotion of the day. I’m not sure if I could catch all of them, because I’m not Sigmund Freud or a psychologist, I’ve got a lot of issues myself. So what I did try and do is create something where you know what, if there’s something I can give you, when you’re feeling down, I’m going to go play that song. Or if there’s something I can give you when you want to go out there’s something on the album that you can go and vibe to.”

There was a moment of what I would say is vulnerability on the project in the song about your daughter. So obviously fatherhood is is an area where you’re happy to talk about. What impact has fatherhood had on your creative process and on you as a person?

“I think it’s turned me from a boy to a man. And what’s funny is you can be a grown man without children and you still feel like a boy. We’re all lions, but our claws are kind of tucked in and then the minute you have a child your claws just pop out and you just turn into a different animal. It’s hard to explain it but the change in me just shows how irrelevant I felt things were.

“When I changed from AM Sniper, you know regardless of how big a brand you are when you’re known for a certain name and you know you’ve got your following and your fans and you know your ego satisfied, it’s very hard to change your name. But when I recorded “Hail” I knew I had touched the special moment in life and in music. Not just for me because the song is the circle of life. In the way that I perceive it but also the way, other people perceive it. It has a beginning and end. The circle of life is what we are. I can’t wait for people to see the video that we have for Hail. A lot of people are expecting to see a lot of me and my daughter but it’s actually not the case. We went for a very out of the box type of cinematic sphere. I’m in it, but I’m just saying it’s not what everyone is expecting.

“So when I made the record I sat back and I heard that and I said this is not AM Sniper talking AM Sniper is all about clubbing and flexing. A!MS still likes the good stuff, A!MS is still someone that flexes but when you write a song that comes from your soul, but then you feel that there’s a mismatch between what you’re called and what you’re putting out.

“I hope everyone can see that I’ve got this beautiful creature with me that’s my daughter. I’m really proud of her. You don’t worry about yourself anymore if you live for them. You start understanding your parents more than you start loving them more. It’s just love all around. And because she’s a lady, my daughter, she teaches me about women as well. I would say the A!MS is a product of Melody [his daughter]. On the back of the album, she’s executive producer.”

Like I said in that track on the album, it is the biggest moment of vulnerability, especially the part where you’re talking about the things that you’d like to teach her. You can hear a lot of what you’ve been saying in that reflection of those amazing values and who you seek to be to her. You can really see how having a child has made you find that in yourself. It’s such an incredible feeling that I think you’ve managed to encapsulate in that song.

“I know it’s not cool to be the good guys, man. But I think that it’s been a minute for the good guys to actually win this, like we’ve been living in a few years of, you know, the bad guys win the trophies. And I’m here to change that. I think it’s good to be good. I think you can be successful and be a good person.”

It’s very needed for people to see from artists. Your outlet is someone else’s intake. Whatever you’re pouring out is filling someone else’s vessel.

“I feel that the subjects have lost balance. Every other song we have been listening to threw me off a little bit because I’m like ‘why does everyone have to stab everyone?’ I understand it because I come from that background so I get it. I know what it gets like. I also know the pressure that you feel. But the real boss and the real power of the game is the people that can stop, just stop, man, just stop doing that.”

You briefly mentioned some of the other businesses and other things that you do outside of music, is it hard to strike a balance? Running a business can be difficult on even a smaller scale.

“Because I enjoy it! I mean, a lot of people try and touch on things, they even tried to make excuses of my existence by saying ‘but his family backs him’ and I’m thinking I must have some next-level family, I must be royal. It’s easy for people to misunderstand things.”

“The Ace of Spades champagne I have stakes in. I went into marketing companies, water parks, clubs, real estate, stock investments. All I cared about was that so instead of me going out and spending 300 pounds, I bought shares for 300 pounds. It’s not a case of how wise I have been, I have been on my grind for years. But what I did in the last two and a half years is I just solely focused on what I love. And I just developed what I love. What I do is not for me, it’s for everyone, for my family and teams it was never a case of always just for me.

“I’ve sacrificed my social life. I don’t get to see a lot of my mates, I don’t get to see a lot of my family or relatives on a regular basis. But at the moment, my family are my people, we’re on a mission together and I can’t change that for now. I’m always open and welcome to people that want to grow, even with the label. Now we’re so overwhelmed. We need new staff.

“So when you ask ‘how do you do it?’ It’s not hard. I’m going to tell you now it’s not hard like when people say it’s hard. They would not allow them to manifest this happening. That’s why we say it’s in progress, it’s loading, it’s growing. You can use so many other words, a lot of people would love to be in my position, whether they like me or hate me.”

Your career path is another highly interesting area, having met MegaMan and being with So Solid for a while. You’ve really witnessed the evolution of the industry and lived through it!

 “Yeah, I was never a prime figure. I’ve always been someone trying to do this thing.”

I guess there are some great life lessons, great experiences, great motivation…..

“I think it demotivated me. I try not to think about it because it’s sad. It’s sad because everyone should be entitled to be what they want to do for as long as they want to do it. And they should be given equal opportunities. I think maybe it’s that people come and then only a few can stay, from what I’ve seen maybe that’s the case. I don’t belong here, though. That’s the long and short of it.”

It’s a huge achievement in terms of just being able to stay in that space, do what you want, create what you want, and not have pressure. Or not have that outward influence dictate whether or not you’re still relevant.

“That’s been my superpower. I say to people if I was discovered young and I was popping when I was doing certain music, I would have probably not progressed to this point that I am today. Because it wouldn’t have stayed in that. That mentality would have drawn me in and I wouldn’t feel comfortable in that mentality.

“I think that I have enough combined fans around the world to make the numbers look good. But I don’t think that I am an established household name and I understand the reasons, there are no excuses. It all starts from within, I feel like for one, if I had put out albums, like the one that’s about to drop, that’s the most important thing when you’re doing music. I don’t care what people say. But that’s how long it took me to make album number one I’d rather take time and give people what you heard as opposed to just trying to jump on algorithms and trends and what’s popping now. It was weird how it happened. But listen, no regrets.”

People are going to take so much from this album, different people are going to take different things. People who may already have an existing knowledge of who you are might take something different from someone who’s discovering you for the first time. Is there one major overriding takeaway that you want people to get from this?

“I think the one thing they’re going to take away from this is that they feel at home with me. Because I think that it’s very important to be able to create a connection with your audience. The other thing is ‘exotic’ because I always wanted to come across as one of the gang but was always the ‘outcast’, the one that’s not really exactly the same – very exotic. You could see that there’s a fusion between the Mediterranean cultures and the African and Jamaican sounds and to me that’s so familiar. For me, when people feel exotic, it’s a beautiful thing.

We think we’re free but we’re all caged. Being free is being on the beach, waking up and doing what you want to do and not having to worry about clocking in or abiding by rules. A lot of people call me weird for thinking like that,but I think I’m talking straight facts.”

Offshore is out now and you can take it in below!