Sometimes one defining moment or one cause of action can transform a life’s path, and that’s what happened to painfully shy 20-year-old Florida resident Aymber Plizak known now musically as Aymber. Originally unable to take risks, she walked past a pawn shop and noticed a guitar glowing with a magnetic aura. She was forced to enter the shop. It wasn’t just a guitar, it symbolized much more. This was it.
This was her opportunity to pursue and consume her love of music and to start fresh after losing her first job in the Graphic Design industry. This was her calling. “Up until that moment in my life, I had always been really careful, I never really took chances. I did the normal thing.” says a self-reflecting Aymber. “I had always wanted to do more with music but I was too afraid to try. So yes, I feel like the guitar was kind of talking to me, it sparked that little voice in my head that told me to go after my dream”.
Her antecedent timid personality was a result of neighbourhood-hopping that prevented her from getting close to people on a personal level, especially as her mentality was automatically prepared for departure. Born in Willingboro, New Jersey (home of the short-lived R&B group City High), Aymber moved to South Salem, New York, before finally relocating to Florida aged 13. Despite the unstable habitat, music was always a consistent fascination within the family, particularly encouraged by her mother and grandparents.
“My Grandmother used to sing in a band when she was my age… so maybe that got passed down to me. My uncle has an amazing voice so I grew up watching him sing and I would try to imitate him. My mother, even though she doesn’t sing, she was probably my biggest musical influence. She made sure I grew up listening to all kinds of music, she’d put on Frank Sinatra, Patti Labelle, Billie Holiday, Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson, everything and then ask me to sing the songs for her“.
Unaware of her own vocal ability, she chose to initially pursue a different form of creativity: Graphic Design. She worked in a small ad agency, which she considered to be her dream job and despite early setbacks, till this day still dabbles in the art. This passion can be seen in her promotional photographs and the controlling nature of that profession could shape her views on album artwork and decision-making when the time comes to working with producers in music. It’s already given her the quick-thinking ability to rapidly learn new skills as shown on that vital day that she bought her first guitar. “I learned my first 3 chords the night I brought it home. I wrote a few songs, learned a few covers and I started my account maybe a month or so later”.
The “account” Aymber refers to is her YouTube account and after just two months, she gained an array of worldwide followers impressed by her covers of famous songs by British acts Adele, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Amy Winehouse and Superbowl sensation Katy Perry. Speaking about Katy Perry, Aymber touches on what about Perry’s songwriter moves her, “Her songs just get you really pumped, they make you feel like you can take on the world. Her lyrics are so catchy and easy to relate to, I feel like everyone has belted out a few Katy Perry songs in their car“.
Her family and friends pushed the still-hesitant singer into chapter three of her music experience: performing live. “They just constantly re-assured me that I was good enough, and that I could do this. When I wanted to give up or I felt too intimidated to do a big show or take a big step in my career, they were always there telling me that they can feel that this is what I’m supposed to be doing“.
Aymber still recalls the details of that very first show in a small brewery in Davie, Florida and how awkward nerves metamorphosed into genuine hope. “I watched the acts before me and everyone just seemed to be ignoring them, they were more like background music for the people drinking. When I got up and started singing, it got really quiet. My eyes were closed so I kind of thought that everyone had just left, but they didn’t, they were listening. At first I was really freaked out, but then they all cheered when I was done, and that was exactly the boost I needed to keep going“.
After that inhale of confidence, the contacts have increased in their frequency and so have the gig opportunities including being honoured to perform the American national anthem at a baseball match for The Annual Power Showcase at Marlin’s Stadium in Miami. “I’m really not a big baseball fan, or a big sports fan in general, and I wouldn’t consider myself to be very patriotic, I love where I live and I appreciate the benefits I get from living here”.
She is now at a stage of developing her personality. The thing that makes every musician memorable and one glance at her promotional material suggest a love for the glamour of 1950s retro fashion including an allure for polka dot designs. “I have a thing for polka dots, and the 1950s, it just seems like a nicer, more romantic time. The music, the shows, the fashion, I love everything about it. It’s definitely a big influence in my music, I’m a BIG Frank Sinatra fan, every time I listen to him I feel like I’m a little kid. I definitely draw inspiration from music in that time period, but I put my own modern spin on it“.
Aymber’s collaboration with another promising talent and mutual friend Jesse Lopez on a quirky cover and classic call-and-response duet “Baby It’s Cold Outside” not only showed nostalgic music education but a cheerful humour and a likeability that will be beneficial in shaping her image. She explained the rationale of making a snow-associated song in a snow-less park: “We live in Florida, and since I grew up in the cold, I missed that Christmas feeling, nothing compares to snow around Christmas time, so we made our own with the help of our good friend Mandy who did all of the photography and videography for our cover, she’s extremely talented, you can check her out at www.mandyylynnphotography.com”.
Although she refuses to be genre-defined and draws influences from jazz, pop, folk, hip-hop, country and even punk rock, the clearest description of her music, she provides is “Retro-Pop”. “I’m working with some really good engineers and musicians to try to give my music the exact feeling I’m looking for, something that can’t be accomplished with just my guitar and vocals”. Her voice however is often compared to the equally irresistible Corinne Bailey Rae for its ray of sunshine, sophistication and delicate soul and her two original songs on her Soundcloud page “Easy” and “I Do” sound uncannily like repertoire from the Leeds lyricist but with more acoustic thrust and an crispy texture.
“Easy” has a gramophonic texture and analogue realism, that fingers crossed, won’t be filtered out in future releases. As summery as the atmosphere is, the theme of the song is more appropriate for rainfall, with black clouds of heartbreak, regret and disappointment. “So it was easy to leave you, I got my bags all packed and I ain’t coming back this time. Goodbye”. However, “I Do” is a romantic folk song with a blissful golden keyboard.
It’s a lot more hopeful and positive but it has this perspective of a daydreamer in a cafeteria lusting over an object of affection and imagining a planned future with that person. She narrates the stages of an all-too-perfect fantastical relationship divided with scenarios that require the response of “I do”. In the space of 3:46 minutes, the story goes from the discovery of the boy inside a crowd to eventually marrying him in a situation in which “I Do” seems the most relevant association.
Aymber’s Soundcloud page also features an impressive range of covers. Whilst many of the covers sound too similar to the original including Idina Menzel’s “Let It Go” and Ed Sheeran’s “Lego House”, the highlight must be her re-working of “Valerie”. With just vocals and fast acoustic guitar, it’s just as captivating as the brass-fuelled version of Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse fame and the blues rock guitar on The Zutons original. It even includes moments of extreme subtlety and minimalism where her voice sounds elegant and naturally comfortable. It’s power makes the other versions sound inefficient and over-produced.
Aymber is currently working on her debut EP with different studios and producers in South Florida, hoping to be made by August. She has a unique and perfectionist process of recording different versions of each song and then picking the producers based on their speciality. When asked about whether she’d be wearing polka dots on the new album cover, she replied, “you know, I hadn’t thought about it, I change my mind a lot but I seem to pick polka-dots without realizing it. So more than likely I will“.
Words by Matt Hobbs