Alina Amuri, the soul singer from Zurich with Congolese roots, talked to Mik from PACK EASY about her music and traveling. For her new album Chasing Traces (release date: 18th of May 2018) she set off on a journey in search of herself and her roots. She found new perspectives and a new sound. The album shows her wonderful musical development with a mixture of various genres and it awakens the listener’s desire of discovery.
Mik: Congratulations to the release of your second album Chasing Traces, which you performed live in front of the audience for the first time on the 8th of June in Zurich. Chasing Traces is the story of a journey. Tell us about this story.
Alina Amuri: The album is an excerpt from my career. It reflects the journey of my life and shows where I stand right now. It is a privilege to be able to express yourself in this art and to feel supported by so many different people. For this album, I could particularly count on the support from Hamburg-based team of producers AmberYard. Thanks to the trip to the nomads in the desert of Africa, I learned a lot about myself and came back home full of inspiration.
What was it that surprised you most during your travels? Are there any particularly formative adventures?
A.A.: I love to travel and find it an incredible privilege to do so. I enjoy being on-site, immerse into cultures, getting to know new people and listening to the most diverse stories.
Of course, I had super interesting experiences in the desert of Africa. I didn’t know what to expect and was open for anything. I was cordially received and got to gain great musical and personal experiences. Obviously, jamming together with the nomads in the desert was unique and something I will never forget. They showed up with a small amplifier and we made music together. Such experiences inspire me in so many ways and lead to the desire to always continue traveling and discover new things.
Just recently you have been to Guayana for a video shoot. What does it mean to you to travel and to discover the world?
A.A.: Replacing fear with curiosity. That is something I generally try to live by. While traveling, fear matters regarding flying or generally during the journey. I try to replace such thoughts with curiosity and you will learn how much it gives to you. When I travel, I am impressed by so many things, be it colors or nature or also people and experiences. This means so much to me and you are getting something back that you don’t expect. You return with memories which you wouldn’t have experienced without traveling. This gives me a kick, a positive push, to constantly continue.
What should never be missing in your suitcase?
A.A.: Water! I am always so glad to have a refreshment. When I am on the way I need this kick of refreshment and it wakes me up. Clearly, I also have my lucky charm. Since I’m little, he accompanies me everywhere I go and is my companion of life.
On what do you count on when it comes to PACK EASY? How can you identify yourself with PACK EASY?
A.A.: For me it is quality before quantity. I attach great importance to quality, also in my music. PACK EASY is a Swiss quality brand, internationally oriented. So am I. In my new album, it is a lot about traveling, although a journey to the interior. And what is always part of a journey… luggage, of course! Besides, PACK EASY simply is a likeable brand. I can also identify myself with the fact, that PACK EASY is all in for spontaneous actions if the idea is good. I am so happy that we created such a great collaboration in a short time and I am very grateful for that. Uncomplicated and simple – a great team. Often the cool opportunities happen unexpectedly and spontaneously. And you’ve got to seize that. PACK EASY is open-minded, like me and my team.
From your point of view, why is the collaboration with PACK EASY interesting?
A.A.: I am a woman… I love handbags! And I travel a lot. I attach importance to sustainability and good quality. The handbags are, besides being beautiful, entirely produced in Switzerland. I like that. I think we are both growing and we can inspire each other.
What kind of travel do you like especially? And what is important to you when being away in other countries?
A.A.: I am open for everything. I don’t need much when I’m on the road and I’m glad if I have little luggage. Simple, practical suitcases are perfect for me. But in general, I am drawn to the sea. Seawater just makes me feel good: for my skin and for my soul. But at the same time, I am fascinated by big cities such as New York. Big cities are extremely inspiring. There are so many impressions one need to process and which can show new paths.
Which is your favorite destination? Is there a place you always want to go back and why?
A.A.: I obviously have a deep connection to Africa. There is something mystical about it, that touches me every time I’m there. I was able to experience such great memories while being there. But I am also drawn to big cities as New York. It has something magical and the great musicians out there are also a reason for me to return time and again. And since the video shoot in Guayana, this country has a special place in my heart. I didn’t know what to expect and had such a great time. The team was super, we constantly laughed and got along very well.
Coming back to music: the song “On My Way” is about your roots. You were born in the DR of Congo. In what sense does your origin, but also your current home Switzerland, influence your music?
A.A.: I am deeply connected to the place I was born. Of course, I was very little when I came to Europe and I grew up here. But it is just nice to know where you come from. Still, I want to keep learning and find out even more.
From the Congo, I have the rhythms and choirs that influence my music. They have a very unique manner of playing the guitar. I tried to transform this into classic, modern soul, added electronic instruments and mixed in different genres like rock.
When and how did you discover the art of music?
A.A.: I’ve always been a little whirlwind, who danced all the time. Music accompanies me throughout my whole life. But I used to want to become a doctor, until I realized the thing with blood isn’t really my thing. Then I wanted to become an architect. It fascinates me to give other people a new home and to create buildings with meaning for people.
But from early on I went to the children’s choir. So, music was always there and also helped me, for example in my teenage years. I then started with background vocals and writing my own songs. It was more of a process until I became a musician. But now it is the best thing I could ever wish for.
Where do you get inspiration from for your songs? Is traveling a part of it?
A.A.: Everything can inspire you! Sometimes I sit in the tram, look out of the window and discover something, that inspires me. It is a part of me. Of course, traveling plays an important role for seeking inspiration. But actually, I get inspired very quickly and by a lot of things.
Do you listen to music while being on the road? And do you listen to your own songs?
A.A.: During studio time, I’m constantly surrounded by my songs. There it is nice, to put it away from time to time, listen to other music or just enjoy the quietness and listen to nature. But yes, during album recording I am strongly absorbed in my songs. And at the moment it’s great to tinker around with my team for the realization of the song’s live versions: which song do I perform how on stage? How can we adjust one or another song for the live performance? But to put everything away for ones just feels good sometimes.
Do you have a favorite song on your new album?
A.A.: I love the message from “Pioneers”: “We’ll replace fear of the unknown with curiosity and move our feet to another rhythm”. I like the song “Free” because of the feeling and the groove in “Outro” is also great.
How would you describe yourself – who is Alina?
A.A.: Alina is a funny person and a wonderful singer. I want to express myself musically. My songs are a part of me and I think it’s wonderful how music can be used as a universal language. Building bridges and affecting people. It means so much to me if I can touch people in whatever way with my music, or if they can recognize themselves in my songs or they can identify themselves.
What dreams or goals do you have for your future?
A.A.: I try to live in the moment. But this is easier said than done. Sometimes it goes well, other times not so much. For the future, I’m really looking forward to my tour and the tours yet to come. I already have many new ideas and I’m excited to implement them. I am grateful to be able to make music and I am looking forward to everything that comes with it.
Last spontaneous question: How or with what can one surprise you in a positive way?
A.A.: I really appreciate it if people are attentive and listen. If I tell someone when my flight arrives and this person comes to surprise me at the airport to pick me up, that really brings me so much joy. It doesn’t need big things, small gestures that show you listened, are what make me happy.
Mik and the team of PACK EASY are really looking forward to the collaboration with Alina Amuri and we support her in all aspects of traveling. The stylish PACK EASY handbags are an ideal fit to Alina’s unique style and with the functional trolleys she is always well catered, no matter where she is in the world.
We are curious where her next journey will take her. Surely, some wonderful songs will arise that inspire us all and let us dream from the distance.