For our first spotlight of the new year, we had the pleasure of speaking with multi-hyphenate creative Amo Wang about her journey. Finding much of her inspiration in the unexpected Amo’s work is a dynamic display of how she views and experiences the world around her. Our conversation with Amo covers her many creative outlets and the things that have led her to them.
Briefly introduce yourself…
AMW: So my name is Amo and I studied film at Emily Carr University in Vancouver. Right now I'm just l a freelance photographer and sometimes I also work in film for companies like Disney and Netflix, as a camera assistant and onset photographer. I also make music and I have around four or five singles out right now. The genre is like synth-pop inspired by the 80s because I really like the combination of the old-school and new pop music.
You’ve described a few creative avenues that you explore. What inspired your interest in these things?
AMW: So, I'm the kind of person who is inspired by everything, like the emotions deep inside my heart, movies, music, and dramas, or just locals doing chores and getting on with their life when I'm on a trip bearing witness to what or who has been surrounding me. I don't know, I just think I'm curious and that curiosity is the key to opening the world for me. I am inspired to make art sometimes maybe by what I see in a painting that I can relate to or something that reminds me of my childhood, or movie scenes that deeply touch me. I have a notebook that I use to take notes about my daily inspirations and other important matters. Whenever there's an idea that just jumps into my mind, I simply take out the notebook to document it.
Photos: Amo Wang
Discuss more about how you find inspiration in unexpected things…
AMW: I really like unexpected things. So sometimes I like to do something I don't usually do. Like, I don't really play basketball so I’ll play a game of basketball, even if it's out of my comfort zone I'll try. Or I’ve never been to a strip club so I just want to try it out because I think I really get a lot of new ideas by connecting with very unique people and being part of new experiences. I really enjoy those kinds of interactions
What was your experience like in film school? What impact did it have on your creative journey?
AMW: So my school was not the most traditional or practical one. And I didn't really learn very traditional and very professional stuff in school, more so how to engage with and consume art. In the class, we watched, read and listened to a lot of different artistic works. I really liked being around different kinds of human beings because it wasn't a huge university. Like we only have around 1000 people there but each of them was really amazing artist from different cultural backgrounds. This helped me understand the arts in a cultural way because the way each person made art was very different. When we had interactions or were doing group projects where we worked together, a new kind of chemistry developed between us. This is reflected in my own art.
I'm from China and was an international student, I think that there's a certain way they dress and they talk or what they drive. I try to be more unique and different by learning from different people and arts.
Photos: Amo Wang
What is your process? And what are some of the things that you're thinking about as you create work?
AMW:So for that question, My personality is a very important key to creating my art. So I really like bright colours, and for film, I really like the futuristic romantic sci-fi look and it’s also my favourite genre of film. I also like horror movies. I feel like inside me I have multiple souls. Sometimes I feel like I'm five years old, and sometimes I feel like I'm 50 years old. So I try to find a balance and combine them. When I take photos I usually use props, because they can represent and add more interesting and emotional elements to the work. I also like to add some really unexpected stuff to the image to make it more futuristic and fun. So I think my main style of making art is playful, futuristic, or sometimes a little bit weird. I made five short films when I was in school and when I finished all of them I realized that all of them were about time travel. So I think I'm really deep inside my heart I’m really interested in sci-fi, not that realistic stuff
you've worked on a series of different magazines and news. What's been your favourite experience so far?
AMW:Um, I really like to work with musical artists. Like two months ago, I worked with a very famous musician, a rapper named bbno$ and it was a really fun experience to work with him because he's not just a model in front of the camera he's creator too. Like, you don't need to tell him what to do, he just understood the project and added more because his personality is so strong, and he just loved to play with the props. So I really like improvisation in the process and when I work with people like that. It's always more surprises and I really like surprises. I'm not the kind of person to make a very detailed plan before I shoot or before I make music. I will just have a rough idea before and let surprises and old ideas just jump into my mind one by one. So for that experience, there were so many surprises happening on set and everybody was super creative.
Photos: Amo Wang
You spoke earlier about your music and the singles that you have out. I’d love to learn a little bit more about that and where your interest in music came from…
AMW:I started making music because I play the piano. I learned how to play the piano and the guitar when I was a kid and I also really, really loved singing. So actually, this year I was on The Voice in China. I knew I was good at singing and I just had the impulse to write my own songs because I like to hear very unique songs and not that many people were doing that style of music in China. So I just wondered, why don't I start? So I just started to write music on the piano. Everybody loves 80s music, no one in In China was making Japanese-style 80s music so I started to make it and actually, the feedback has been really good and people are really happy about what I’ve written. I only have four singles out right now but all of them sound very different because I'm constantly testing my limit and my styles.
What are the themes that you're exploring in your music?
AMW:Yeah, before I start writing a song I never think about writing a love song or a sad song, I just want to express my thoughts but the weird thing is that they all turn out to be love songs. So I feel like maybe I have very rich emotions and am a romantic person, I think that's why I naturally create songs that reflect this. I'm more like a love song person but the songs are not just about a couple or relationships it's about the relationship between love and this world and how people love each other. My first song I wrote when it was the start of the COVID and it was hard to really see the people you love. I also thought about how right now everybody stays on their cell phone all day instead of interacting with the people we love.
Photos: Cover Art - Moon Away, Room 1995
Who are some of the artists that you are inspired by from the 80s era?
AMW:My favourite singer is Sam Cooke his songs make me really happy. There are other artists like Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone and Frank Ocean that I really like right now. I think his [Frank Ocean] work inspires me a lot. Not only because of the the music, but also the but also the lyrics, because I really like to read the lyrics with the music. And there are some Japanese 80s singers that inspired my music but I don't know how to say their names in English.
You’re originally from China,and you migrated to Canada for school and are now working as a professional. Whats that transition been like and how does culture play a role in your work?
AMW:I'm not very cultured because when I was a kid my parents got divorced, I was very independent and I’d travel a lot with my cousins and friends to different countries. Most of the Chinese kids their parents are very strict about a lot of things. But my mom just let me do anything I wanted, so I’ve been practicing being creative since I was kid. Because of my family background I got a lot of freedom to explore the arts because my mom sent me to learn painting, instruments and even like Chinese Kung Fu and dance.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received and what advice would you share with another creator?
AMW:I think emotion and love is the key to creating great art. I know some of my friends create best when they’ve gone through a breakup or they’re extremely sad or are experiencing really extreme emotions. Maybe everyone has a different way of making art but I think if you bring and have really positive energy anything is possible to achieve in art. Both your art and energy are abstract things, but synergistically they could create great potential. Motivation to create is generated by the love deep inside your heart, so create with love.
Keep up to date with Amo and explore more of his work below and on her site.