Interview: Marsha Ambrosius Talks New Album “Friends & Lovers”, Putting Her Life in Her Music, Always Being a Runner
From the time she came over from the UK and hit the states as part of Floetry, Marsha Ambrosius’ music has resonated with music lovers in a way that is matched by very few in the r&b/soul genres. For that reason, when she transitioned to a solo artist and released her debut, fans of Floetry stuck with her and she didn’t miss a beat. It’s very easy to idolize an artist like Marsha where everything she gives you, from her personality to her music, is 100% authentic. As she prepares to share her new album “Friends and Lovers” with us, not only will she once again be giving us a piece of her, but she’ll be giving us the truth. YouKnowIGotSoul sat down with Marsha prior to a recent performance in NYC and discussed what to expect on “Friends & Lovers”, writing relatable music, the level of talent she’s see in her native UK, developing as a writer since coming to the states and much more.
YouKnowIGotSoul: The new album “Friends & Lovers” is coming out in the new few months. What inspired your writing this time around for the album?
Marsha Ambrosius: Like the first album “Late Nights & Early Mornings”, I definitely had to have many of the concepts derive from real life experiences. I had many late nights and early mornings *Laughs* which resulted in me meeting a lot of new friends and some lovers. *Laughs*
YouKnowIGotSoul: I was reading that the title for this new album actually stemmed from a real life situation in addition to the rest of the content on the album. Do you feel that makes it more relatable to people?
Marsha Ambrosius: My pen has never shied away from speaking the truth; just how music can emotionally move you. Sometimes I haven’t lived the experience but the music will make you feel that pain and emotion. There’s a song on “Late Nights and Early Mornings” called “Tears” and I’ve never been through that, I’ve never been a divorcee, or had three kids with two different baby dads. I had this entire character going on in my brain when I wrote that song. It definitely applied to the love triangle of my life. *Laughs* I lived in a triangle, well square, or hexagon or octagon. *Laughs* I think everyone can relate to having the one that got away come back around. You kinda wanna see what happens after you’ve both moved on, but do you still have that love? Then you’ve got that other friend who’s trying to be your friend and wants to be your lover but you haven’t let go of that other love. So you’re kinda stuck.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I heard you say in another interview you did that “Not many artists can express themselves wholly like you can”. Why do you feel like you’re able to do that with your music?
Marsha Ambrosius: Through my music I get to be the voice of real people. I go through real things. It doesn’t put me above and beyond anyone else; I just have the blessed opportunity to stand on stage as myself. I don’t become Marsha Ambrosius the artist because I put on these earrings or this chain. I get to be me on a regular day but I get to do that in the industry. I guess the industry with the way people are depicted to be can change you somewhat and throw an “aka” on you or throw a genre on you that you have to embody or become because that’s all people see. I’ve been blessed to tell you who I am whether you liked it or not. This is me, love it or hate it! If I love it, I love it.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I know on this new project you collaborated with people you connected with. Who can we expect on there?
Marsha Ambrosius: You can expect consistency. I moved to the United States 13 years ago and I’ve been working with the same people ever since. Whether that’s Dre and Vidal, formerly of A Touch of Jazz, they did stuff on “Late Nights and Early Mornings”. Eric Hudson, who I worked with when I did stuff for Mario and Jamie Foxx. Pop & Oak, same thing, I’ve been working with Oak since we did Mario’s stuff and Sterling Simms’ stuff. I kinda kept a cohesive sound that makes this album play more from beginning to end. I’ve always taken pride in that. With “Late Nights and Early Mornings”, it opens with an introduction to where the album is gonna go, the anticipation. “Friends and Lovers” does exactly the same thing; it sets you up for the mood and premise for what this album is about.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Like you mentioned, you’ve been here in the United States for awhile now after coming from the UK. You recently had a great collaboration with another artist from the UK, Daley. What’s the talent like that you’ve seen in the UK over the years?
Marsha Ambrosius: Over the years for me it hasn’t changed. There’s always been artists that have surfaced and made noise. I’m thankful to be one of the very few that has achieved what UK r&b should have a long time ago. That’s really transitioned into the United States because this is the biggest market for it. There really isn’t a market there for r&b if it isn’t imported into the United States. I kind of brought my music to a broader audience which is who I wanted to play for and who I always aspired to. Daley, the same thing, a young kid that has been on the circuit for awhile but just getting acknowledged now. We just happened to be in the studio together in New York that day and made that song. People are hearing it now, but these are things that I get to do. I get to see people that are that talented. In the UK, my brother Marvin is a writer who works with amazing musicians and artists over there. It’s really about getting the opportunity to shine in the light that you’re supposed to. Go where the people are and they want to hear your voice. I’m just thankful that I planted my feet down and really got noticed at the highest level of what I do.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We’ve spoke to some other artists who have come from counties outside of the United States like Canada and the UK and they pretty much said they had to come to the United States to get noticed. Do you feel like you could have been as successful if you stayed overseas?
Marsha Ambrosius: There’s no telling. It might not have been the same thing but I would have tried really hard. I guess with the evolution of technology and social media, I’m pretty sure I would have found a way to do this thing on my own. I’ve always been self sufficient and efficient; I’ve always wanted to plug myself, even with the label. The label laughs at me, saying “Marsha you don’t have to do all of this running by yourself, let us do our job.” Which I get, but sometimes you have to run, and I’ve been a runner this entire time. I feel like if I was in the UK, I would still be running.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You’ve been a great writer for years and we love to hear the history. You contributed five songs to Glenn Lewis’ debut album in 2002. Where was a young Marsha Ambrosius at as a writer during that time?
Marsha Ambrosius: Oh my goodness man. I was so excited. I was vulnerable, impressionable, but I managed to be with the people that made the right impression with me and stayed with me throughout this whole thing, Glenn being one of them. Dre & Vidal, who executive produced that album, being another. They really shaped and molded and nurtured the writer and producer that I wanted to become. Big shout out to them, they know I am forever indebted and I’ll bake cakes and cookies for them! *Laughs* I’m just thankful that I was able to do that. Glenn is an amazing artist and I was just young and ready to go. Like I said, I’ve been running for a long time, but when I landed here, I wanted to make some noise.