Chauncey Chat: Welcome to the Manifesto of Amar’s Otto Disco
Originally a ballet dancer, Amar’s discovery of the nightlife and especially of LGBTQ+ culture led him to glam rock bands. Since 2017, he has split his time between Paris and NYC performing on stage in both. He has built a musical universe that mixes new wave and disco, as well as an urban aesthetic that is a hybrid of drag and burlesque. His work is a continual experimentation of new musical and pictorial ideas that inspire each other.
It has been a whirlwind two years since we became aware of AMAR and we have Instagram to thank for it. We mutually followed each other and soon became fans of each other’s work. During a quick visit to The States, he was able to join the roster of our then monthly FREAK OUT Variety Show at The Stonewall Inn. And then the world stopped with Coronavirus. Since then, he has appeared in various online productions from The House of Dandridge including online FREAK OUT shows and last year’s KALEIDOSCOPE VIRTUAL PRIDE FESTIVAL in June of 2020. His submissions have always been high-end, visual roller coasters soundtracked with his signature edgy post-punk disco sound and fantastic fashion experiences.
Fast forward to 2021 and the release of his very first album “OTTO DISCO” which we were afforded to a sneak peek listen a few weeks ago. The six-track collection is a wonderful rabbit hole into the world of AMAR, a secret party you are not sure how you arrived at, but are grateful you were invited. Scents of Kraftwerk, early Depeche Mode, and The Cure mix and mingle with a sonic soiree of recent faves like Cut Copy and The Presets. One thing is for sure: Amar is Otto Disco and Otto Disco has good taste. Songs are fully realized with emotional arcs and valleys with the help of techno stabs and flourishes, a refreshing break from the under three-minute pop songs filling the airwaves these days.
Standouts for us are the frenetic longing in “Off The Ground” and the dance floor beckoning of “Out Tonight”. The small but mighty group of songs definitely pull you deep into AMAR’s world and they are as political as they are produced. We are very proud of our friend AMAR and excited to see what comes next in his artistic evolution and revolution.
Get the album here
Listen on Spotify here
Check out videos for “Manifesto” and “Ready To Dance” as well as an exclusive Chauncey Chat below!
READY TO DANCE
Released exclusively in New York on October 22, 2020, by Grumpy Entertainment Inc., this first single
is the soundtrack of the French documentary “La Première Marche” directed by Hakim Atoui and Baptiste Etchegaray, distributed by Outplay Films theatrically (released on October 14, 2020).
An ode to LGBTQ+ culture and by extension to the many fights it had to face, the music video contrasts societal violence against minorities with the unifying and celebratory role music plays within these communities.
From the Stonewall Riots to the Black Lives Matter movement, to the Pride March of Saint-Denis, the
first of its kind organized in the suburbs of Paris, the music video is a testimony and a diary. It is highlighted by personalities sometimes unknown to the public eye but who are active members for the cause and its political and artistic influences. “Ready To Dance” has a double meaning. Its dance rhythms should not obscure the message of a revolution and a rally.
We had a chance to do a little international Chauncey Chat with the busy budding icon AMAR. Check it out below!
Let’s start from the beginning…What is Otto Disco?
Once upon a time, in an underground 80s inspired universe, a guy named Otto Disco tells his journey, and states his life, in a high-energy and dynamic way. Starting off the ground and is now getting ready to dance.
But Otto Disco is also my album, a synthpop, rock-oriented collection that I produced and composed with my pals Kordezalp x PomdePaw. The album is a self-reflection on my life as an artist and a being, through a lot of emotions, and messages for each track, melancholic sometimes but at the same time very optimistic and quite off the wall.
Tell us about the journey in creating this album.
We started working on several songs originally with Kordezalp. As soon as we met, Low Key was the first song we worked on together. It was way more punk-ish in the beginning, and we were not really into making an album at that time. Then PomdePaw, joined us to play at Paris Pride, in June 2019, we had a good time and good chemistry, so we decided to pursue that energy into the first songs we worked on, and then the album started emerging. The process was dense, there’s something about making music, that you know is very intense. You have to show vulnerability and make sure everybody’s seeing your vision. We came from different musical fields, and we’ve been able to create a common path, which to me is the true essence of the album. It was a long process, but a very exciting road every step of the way, I’ve learned a lot and I have grown so much because of it.
How did the Coronovirus epidemic and lockdown affect the creative and production process?
Well, I’m glad I forced everybody to record the album before February 2020. That’s quite ironic when you think of it, I was traveling to NY when Europe closed its borders when I heard back everything was closed which was kinda scary. The all post-production process was delayed for months with no vision on it, so were our music videos. It was just all pushed on the pause button, and that freaked me out. I even thought that we would’ve never been able to finish it at some point. We shot a music video in January (“Manifesto” directed by Xavier Deranlot) so luckily we had good materials to pursue the album and not drop it off.
And then, it’s a new way of marketing your work. Social media and online performances were a way to make it happen, even if you’re missing everything that makes live entertaining live. And then, you just have to roll your sleeves up and work harder. I think everything happens for a reason, my song Ready to Dance features on the soundtrack of the French documentary “The First Pride” (Outplay Films) and it was out in movies in October 2020, it gave me a nice boost to work my release around that time, and to get back to work. And I’ve had amazing support from the LGBTQ+ press, and good opportunities so, it was worth the wait.
What song on the new album are you most protective of?
All of ‘em. But I think I have a special relationship to several of them. I love “Ready to Dance” for its message and the disco-oriented beats. “Off The Ground” is my most personal writing and is by far the most high-energy song on the album. “Manifesto” also has amazing techno beats on it.
If you were to make a Spotify playlist, what five songs would definitely be on it?
Mmm, let me see.
Superfunk – Lucky Star
Cerrone – Give Me Love
Madonna – Like a Prayer
Freddie Mercury – Living on My Own
The Weeknd – Blinding Lights
Who would you dream duet be?
Jobriath. I’m sure our live shows would’ve been amazing.
But I’d like to work with Van Hechter and also like Bright Light Bright Light.
What should we expect from AMAR in the future in this social distancing new world?
I’ve a new music video for my song Low Key coming out, directed by Piotr Vinokurov. An eccentric cabaret inspired theme. I’m also working on a Otto Disco remixes album release this summer with French DJ Tommy Marcus (whom have already remixed Ready to Dance, and available) and London based DJ and producer OKJAMES. I’m also working on a new album, and have several projects on the way too.
What do you have to say about security guards who tell you that men don’t carry purses?
Hahaha, I’ve had a prettier purse lately, all silver, won’t give any label eh eh. So better beware, cause I’m serving it.
Thank you AMAR! We hope to see you in NYC very soon!
Like the music, the MANIFESTO music video was developed as a minimalist and raw performance,
composed as an experiment. Director Xavier Deranlot was inspired by the videos of Propaganda “P:
Machines” or Alphaville “Sonne comme une mélodie”. It also includes AMAR, as a classical dancer,
showcasing his passion for ballet and Martha Graham’s style. MANIFESTO is an allegory of “The Nutcracker » – the theme of love battling evil playing out between the ballerina AMAR and the soldier, here a policeman. The general mood of the music video goes against the current thinking in regards to police brutality and appears to be a message of hope : the policeman kisses AMAR and the choir dances to the techno rhythms. It also stands as an ironic wink to the messages of
love and tolerance instilled by pop music of the 80s, where everyone claimed their uniqueness.