Weekend Intermission is our regular feature where we look at an artist or band not from the Nordic countries, just to mix things up a bit.
To those who know of her that probably seems like an odd question because Amy Studt hasn’t disappeared by any means but she has had such a topsy turvy career that it seems to have been a case of there one minute then gone for the next 10.
Amy Studt was born in 1986 into a musical family, her father a violinist and conductor and her mother a pianist. She began writing music at the age of six, the same as Fiona Apple if I recall correctly, teaching herself piano, guitar, and oboe. Struck down by the rare bone disease osteomyelitis at the age of 12 she recorded her first two demo albums, which would go on to get her signed to Simon Fuller and 19 Management aged 13 and then to Polydor/Universal for recording and Sony BMG for publishing aged 14.
A prolific writer, she released her first single ‘Just a Little Girl’, which she still was, in July 2002 aged 16. It was followed almost a year later by ‘Misfit’, which was her highest-charting single here, reaching No. 6 in the UK charts, both of them bursting with melody. That same month her debut album ‘False Smiles’ was released selling over 260,000 copies and certified Gold. ‘Just a Little Girl’ reached #1 on US radio around the time of the album’s release.
Does this all seem a little too far, too fast? How many other artists have signed to major labels at a very young age only for it all to collapse around them? I can think of one, straight away; Ren Harvieu.
As it happened two more singles were released, ‘Under the Thumb’ in late 2003 and ‘All I Wanna Do’ (a cover of the Sheryl Crow song), in early 2004, but to declining sales (although it still made No. 10 in the UK charts) that prompted Polydor to drop her in February 2004, all before her 18th birthday.
I came across Amy Studt briefly in the period 2000- 2005, one which was for me the most fallow musically that I’ve known. I’m hard pressed to remember any decent songs from those five years. One of them was Christine Aguilera/Linda Perry’s ‘Beautiful’. Another was Amy’s ‘Under the Thumb’, the first song of hers that I was exposed to.
I recognised immediately what a precocious pop talent she was but it wasn’t long after that she vanished from the music scene for the first time, for the reason mentioned above.
Then in 2007 Amy Studt announced that she was working on a new album, again with the Indie label 19 Entertainment. She released her first single ‘Furniture’, followed by ‘Chasing the Light’, and the album, ‘My Paper Made Men’ was released in May 2008.
What I’d like you to do now is to watch this video of ‘Furniture’ and marvel at the absolute contrast in styles between the flirtatious mainstream pop of ‘Under the Thumb’ and the deeply philosophical indie pop of ‘Furniture’. To use a football analogy it’s as if the earlier song was the last match of a club in the Premier League and the latter the first in the Championship the following season with an entirely different team.
(And then for good measure check out ‘Chasing the Light’ – totally different again).
Hand on heart I wish I could report that was the beginning of the triumphant comeback that it should have been but it wasn’t to be. Incredibly, she was dropped by a second label after the album failed to chart despite excellent press reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, including one from the LA Times which wrote of a “Positively incandescent torch-singing Londoner with a hair-raising emotional range that varies from cut-glass fragility to cat-o’-nine-tails avenger”.
In 2009 Amy moved to New York City; then she returned to the UK where she began building a recording studio and continued writing and recording.
But she went quiet again for a long period, from 2009 to 2017, after suffering a nervous breakdown aged 22 and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and an anxiety disorder, along with various physical illnesses during her 20s. After three hospitalisations and recovery from addiction, Amy wrote about her experiences but ultimately trusted in survival and hope, which she put into her songwriting for her third album.
That album, mainly one of melancholic piano ballads, was ‘The happiest girl in the Universe’, a title that appears to pour ice cubes down the vest of her run of bad luck, this time released on the Crocodile Laboratories label but sadly it failed again to chart.
The album did receive the best reviews she’s received but although audience sizes were growing dramatically the release date of October 2019 in advance of an anticipated two years of touring and promotion proved to be fatal as the pandemic took a hold and killed it.
Some of the song titles are suggestive of the personal issues she may have faced over time, such as ‘Overdose’ and ‘Different coloured pills’ but the gorgeously poignant title track, stuffed on the end, is highly suggestive of a personality that is anything other than that of a quitter.
Amy is 37 now and bad luck has never deserted her. It seems she had a particularly difficult pregnancy and birth of her first child, followed by the distress of PND, which fortunately now seems to have abated.
But if you read her social media posts you can’t help but appreciate that she is a fighter and one who remains up for a challenge. Recently she’s reinvented herself as a ‘songwriter for hire’. She has a battalion of fans across the world and they are as diehard as those of any pop ‘superstar’.
Of them she says, “I am so lucky to have such a strong fan base of beautiful people. Many of which have suffered too or may feel isolated in their lives and have connected with my music and it brings us all together. We have found connection in each other and a community and that is beautiful.”
Amy Studt isn’t a household name but for what my opinion is worth she damn well should be. And as many have proved before her, it’s never too late to land that knockout punch that will put her name up in lights where it belongs.
So to answer my question, Amy Studt has gone nowhere. Go seek her out.
As a little bonus here is a video I just found, of a show at The Castle, Manchester in December 2019. How did manage to miss this?
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