Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Amy Duke

I am sitting here today with a fresh young talent located right here in the heart of Indianapolis. Bringing a sound of modern day country mixed with a set of lyrics you appreciate word for word, Amy bleeds talent and passion. You can hear the honesty behind her words and you know that heartache and true love has inspired her lyrics. Sit with me today as I am happy to introduce Amy Duke.

What is your first memory of the guitar?

My dad was constantly playing the guitar, mainly James Taylor tunes. He was very musical, so I was brought up around the guitar and piano my entire childhood.

How long have you been playing?

Guitar isn’t really my thing, to be honest. I think piano is a far more beautiful instrument. It’s like having a full orchestra right at your fingertips. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 16 or so, and same with piano.

When did you decide to take a run at this thing called music?

My dad heard me singing an Amy Grant song in the car when I was a freshman in high school and said, “Wow I had no idea you had a good voice!” So we went home, he played it on the piano and had me sing and told me I should really pursue it. He bought me my first guitar that Christmas and I took his advice.

Any other jobs besides or is music it?

I’m actually studying education and dance at Anderson University. I’m a senior, and also teach ballet on the side. I also work for a drug prevention program in Anderson community schools called Youth Jam. I am on the fence between teaching and pursuing music full time. Obviously music is the more desirable choice, however, teaching is safe and secure for me.

Tell me how you know Jason Gaskins.

I met him through a singer-songwriter who went to Anderson as well, Jessica Sonner. He did some photographs of her that I thought were breathtaking and I e-mailed asking him if he’d like to set up a photo shoot. We did a photo shoot in Bloomington. He had me sitting in a field of (little did we know) poison ivy. I got it all over my body and it didn’t go away for about 2 months. But, he’s a great guy.

Did he write all over your hand or did you?

I did. He had this idea for me to write something from one of my songs or something that reflects my personality and wanted to close up on it and have me in the background. I thought “give me the sky” was appropriate for my idealistic, adventuresome personality. And it was also a song lyric.

If you could live anywhere else but here where would you go?

Nashville, hands down.

PC or Mac?

PC, unfortunately.

Describe your genre in one word.


What is the largest crowd you have ever played for?

Well I played at Carnegie Hall with my high school orchestra, so that was pretty huge. But as a singer-songwriter I’ve probably played for about 200 people.

The smallest?

Ummm I played at the Rock Lobster once with my former band, Tea and Sympathy. They put us in this back bar area, and for parts of it we were playing for the bartender. Just the bartender. Throughout the night, 2-3 people would wander in and out periodically. Great night.

You learned to play the violin at a very young age. Do you still play?

I love to play. However there aren’t a lot of opportunities for me right now. I’ve been asked to play a lot in full-time country bands and that’s just not something I’m passionate enough about to devote my time to. I record violin parts on my songs a lot, but I can’t sing, play piano / guitar, and play violin at the same time unfortunately.

Is it still dorky?

Absolutely not. It is an amazing instrument and I would encourage any young person to play an instrument, especially a string instrument.

Where do you practice?

I actually practice a lot in the practice rooms at Anderson. I have a keyboard but it doesn’t sound like a piano, so I hate it. And my piano at my mom’s house is painfully out of tune. So, thanks to the school of music I get my practice time in.

Any thoughts of branching out of the city of Indianapolis?

I’ve always wanted to move to Nashville and try the music thing out. Other thoughts are New York, Chicago or L.A.. but I want to make sure I’m prepared, have enough quality material, have a financial plan, etc. before I just up and move.

What is your favorite venue to play?

I really liked the bluebird in Bloomington but I have only played there once. On a consistent basis, my favorite place is probably Birdy’s. People who go there really appreciate original music and that is hard to find these days.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

James Taylor is big. I love quirky songwriters like Regina Spektor, Feist and Rosie Thomas. Carole King, Patty Griffin, Alicia Keys, Norah Jones, etc. Some other ones like Radiohead, Damien Rice, Zoey Keating. I really try not to be directly influenced in my music by any one artist, so that I know my music is truly my own. This is why I listen to country; rap, techno and other stuff that sounds nothing like me.

If you could meet anyone alive or dead who would it be?

Ohh I really hate this question. Probably Abe Lincoln though. He was awesome.

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke. But otherwise, Pepsi products. I love Mountain Dew.

Let’s get some pizza. What toppings?

Either plain cheese, or everything on it. Black or white.

If you could tour with anyone currently in the industry who would it be?

Sara Bareilles. She is a legit songwriter, has a perfect crowd for me, and seems really down to earth. She’s kind of about the girl-power thing, but not in a crazy feminist way. It’s perfect. I’d love to tour with her.

Where does your inspiration come from when you sit down to write a new song?

People. Just watching people, being in relationship with people, loving them, hating them, etc.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

That is too impossible. Being the black and white person I guess I am, I’ll either be a married with 3 kids teaching 1st grade, or I’ll be on the road touring and having a blast. We’ll see how it goes.

What do you want to be remembered for when its all said and done?

Being genuine, and real in every sense.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

Music is the reason time still exists.