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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Canadian Artist Amanda Sum Releases Brilliantly Genre Defiant, Thought Provoking Debut Album

Photo Credit: Belen Garcia.

Multifaceted musical talent Amanda Sum has just released her first ever album, “New Age Attitudes”, on September 9 2022.

Swiftly making a name for herself in the Canadian music industry as a gifted singer-songwriter and performer, Amanda Sum is a well-respected instrumentalist and theatre artist based in Vancouver. Holding a BFA in theatre performance from Simon Fraser University, the imaginative artist marries her extensive theatre experience with her formal musical education to create immersive sonic realms that serve to mesmerize and encourage listeners to question the world around them. Musically fluent in a number of instruments such as the piano, guitar, oboe, and English horn, Amanda seamlessly assimilates elements of Indie-Pop, Jazz, and Alternative Folk into her eccentric and genre-bending sound. Her well-honed artistic intuition shines through in her intentional musical arrangements, which complement her intelligent and thought-provoking lyrics.

With the release of just four singles, Amanda’s music has received critical acclaim from major media outlets including CBC, Exclaim! Magazine, and The Vancouver Sun, and even captured the attention of the marketing team at John Fluevog. The mesmerizing music video for her recent single “Different From Before” made waves across North America, and was screened at the Asian American International Film Festival in addition to being chosen as a Vimeo Staff Pick. The artist’s achievements in music have earned her countless musical grants including RBC MMVP, Creative BC/Vancouver Music Fund Music Video Grant, and Theatre Replacement’s COLLIDIER Residence. As a thespian who has starred in works such as “The Wolves”, “Chicken Girl”, and “Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata”, Amanda is a confident performer who has been selected to play at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival and the Mainland Concert series hosted by Side Door Access and Rogers.

Towards the end of her studies at Simon Fraser University, Amanda set her sights on transforming music from a hobby to a full-time career. Fresh from releasing her first three singles “Groupthink”, “Mary Shelley”, and “Hot Headed Egos”, the singer solidified her artistic values as a member of and an advocate for the Asian community by pulling together a band entirely composed of Asian women. Amanda’s debut album was produced in collaboration with an all-female team including Canadian Singer Emily Millard and the profound talents of the late JUNO-nominated recording engineer Olivia Quan.

Brimming with questions revolving around identity and social stereotypes, “New Age Attitudes” blends experimental soundscapes with clever social commentary to invent a stunningly original and relevant album. Dissecting the everyday experiences of a young Asian woman living in Vancouver, the project subverts the many harmful default assumptions found in Western societies. The title track of the album, New Age Attitudescaptures the swirling vortex of emotions which plagued Amanda during a critical period of transition in her life. Departing from the structure of a conventional song, “New Age Attitudes” embraces unconventional time signatures and dreamlike chord combinations to embody the confusing feelings that come with making high-stakes decisions. Embellished with the warm tones of horn and layered background vocals, the song symbolizes the chaotic state of the singer’s mind.

Later followed by “Sorry”, a stripped-down number inspired by a minor collision in 2018 in which Amanda was rear-ended by an intimidating man. Despite being the victim in the scenario, Amanda found herself apologizing and allowing the perpetrator to drive away without consequence. Recognizing the outcome as part of being conditioned to avoid causing trouble, “Sorry” expresses the artist’s regret over perpetuating stereotypes of Asian women being easily manipulated and submissive. Blending Amanda’s pensive vocals over acoustic guitar, the track was recorded live to create an intimate ambience which invites listeners into the singer’s personal thoughts.

Sassy and humorously self-deprecatory, “Undecided Minds” pokes fun at the quirks of Amanda’s fellow Gen Zers while simultaneously admitting she’s no different. Described as a “country-disco” tune, “Undecided Minds” features an instantly catchy, twangy guitar riff over funky electric bass and lively strings. The track masterfully layers omnidirectional background vocals which build towards the end of the song to replicate the sounds of whispery gossip that follows those who are unapologetically living their life.

A remarkably fresh debut from one of the most promising talents in Canada today, “New Age Attitudes” serves as a daring introduction to the inventive mind of Amanda Sum. Facets of Amanda’s identity intersect and sprawl unapologetically throughout the Indie-Pop gem to create a wonderfully human depiction of an Asian woman’s experiences living in a Western society. Aiming to create music that is both relevant and relatable, Amanda pushes against dominant social forces by building a platform for underrepresented voices to share their stories. With the courage to take up space in an industry that has traditionally undervalued those from marginalized communities, “New Age Attitudes” is a call to listeners to take note of who is not present in the room.


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