“Red” is undeniably the most viscid collection of arrangements Bantug has ever fostered. The six tracks probe at her “emotional baggage” she had held hostage, transforming it into evocative cries and admissions of reality.
“It was almost like I was getting to know myself,” she said.
She’s discussed that her debut EP, “Blue,” wasn’t necessarily thought out and planned. With “Red,” she kept in mind of creating a cohesive body of work while confronting her emotions and experiences.
“Overall, I felt a lot of emotions and went through a lot of things and had to process a lot of baggage to kind of write this EP. It was definitely a spectrum of emotions for sure.”
“Find Yourself,” a dreamy track with a mesmerizing bass line and an echoing bridge, followed by a guitar solo enhances simple smoothness of Amanda’s voice.
“I remember this one so vividly,” she said of writing the song. “I wrote it in like two days, but my husband plays bass, and we both had a day off, which doesn’t happen a lot. I was playing bass on it but couldn’t come up with anything. It was like why would I ever try if he’s so good? I think I asked him to play something, and we were both in our pj’s, and it was such a nice, relaxing time. We were just enjoying music rather than like tugging on it and getting frustrated. It felt really joyful at that time. It was a positive experience with music because sometimes I just want to bang my head on my desk. I usually feel like I’m fighting something when I’m writing. This was just one of those few times it was just so natural.”
It’s the internal battles that keep Bantug writing in those trying times. Although, she’s based out of Nashville, and she stresses how supportive and amicable the music community is there, the music industry isn’t an easy industry to work in.
“I love making music and being challenged by it. It’s very important in the process because when you work really hard and put your head down or even leave it alone for a little bit and come out with something you’d never think of—it feels really good. It’s crazy to express yourself in that way and come out with something you didn’t know you could do.”
Especially in the pop genre, it can be hard to stay authentic and not to fall in the trends. She prioritizes herself when writing and composing her music, not the market.
“There’s definitely times I don’t think of myself and that’s when I go off path and constantly remind myself I have to be doing this for me. If I weren’t, I’d be making shitty music. Pop can be a hard genre to sound unique in. People can write fun and like good songs, but at the end of the day, you have to find your thing. I think the only way you’re going to stand out is if you can find yourself in music, as cheesy as that sounds.”
But, it doesn’t come easy, and apparently, the writing and composing process isn’t as glamorous as I conceptualized, which was her in a red room, a keyboard in front of her with candles lit in the background. She immediately laughed.
“I don’t have a red room unfortunately, but that sounds pretty sensual, and I’d be into it. Every now and then I’ll have a candle lit,” she said. “Most of the time when I start writing something, I’ll have a sound and literally start banging on the keys until I find a certain pattern or sound that I like. It’s not a pretty thing at all.”
Bantug doesn’t play many live gigs, yet, kind of adding onto that enigmatic persona she’s put out there. She explained it’s really for no reason other than it hasn’t made sense from a business perspective. Earlier this year, she went on a short run with one of her good friends, Liza Anne.
“I’ve seen a lot of people play a lot of shows, and it was literally for no reason except for practicing, which isn’t bad. For me, it has to make sense both on the musical side and almost the business side. I’ve been trying to play my cards right, and it’s worked out fairly decently. I don’t play shows often, but when I do, I feel like it’s a pretty good show to play.”
Watch her latest single’s music video for “Our Apartment.” Really happy with the outcome, she said, “I think that one is a bop, I guess.” It is.