We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Douglas White a/k/a Douglas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Douglas, looking back, what do you think was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make?
In 2016 I was forced to terminate a pregnancy at seven months. Tests revealed the baby would have been born with incredibly rare yet severe issues and would have had too difficult of a life. We made that really painful decision after a lot of analyzing and diagnosing with several geneticists and perinatologists. It felt a bit like my partner and I were playing God, especially since it had been hard for us to get pregnant in the first place.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been playing in bands and working in the music industry for over 20 years. Throughout the years I would write music on my own and play with different sounds in my studio, slowly growing my arsenal of gear and instruments, while getting into a groove of practice. I love creating and collaborating with people, as it allows me to expand my musical palette and learn new things.
It wasn’t until I experienced the devastating loss that I felt this overwhelming drive to focus my creative energy into a project that was solely my own. In 2016, I was forced to terminate my pregnancy at seven months, and six months later I became pregnant with my son. The pregnancy became a source of both hope and creative motivation while giving me a natural deadline to complete the album. Writing and producing these songs became a cathartic release, an incredibly powerful and healing tool that I needed in order to move forward.
Producing and writing “Ashes” (my debut album released on 4/2/21) on my own was an amazing and sometimes scary experience. I’ve always collaborated with someone in the past, so I was used to bouncing ideas off of them until we were all happy. With “Ashes,” I loved being able to create a sound in its full form without having to compromise. It was fun to take my time and really chisel away at the sonic landscape of each track. Not having a lot of experience producing drum tracks, however, made me nervous, as I didn’t want the album to suffer from my lack of experience. But even that aspect was enjoyable once I figured out what I was doing. It’s not a perfectly produced album, but that was never my intention. I wanted to make something honest, something true from deep within myself. In following that voice, I was able to overcome these challenges and feelings of insecurity, which made this experience truly powerful and most fulfilling.
What I’ve learned throughout the years is that you really have to love making music. It can be tough and incredibly time consuming, but if you ultimately enjoy the process of creating you will find peace and fulfillment. It’s helped me to have a discipline where I go to my studio every day to either play, write or improvise with sounds or gear (analogue or digital). You don’t have to make magic, but if you make time for practice you get to flex those muscles that may lead to magic. I also think it’s important to say yes to as many different musical experiences that may come one’s way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d imagine that this would be some time in the not-so-distant-future when a good chunk of us are fully vaccinated and much of the LA lifestyle that we love and miss so much would be up and running again (and hopefully most of these places are not closed for good!).
I would start in my neighborhood of Highland Park, a very diverse and funky part of Northeast Los Angeles. We would start our day with Collage Coffee and continue to the various vintage shops and stores up and down York and around Figueroa. I also love popping into Future Music to see what new vintage gear they have (or to get one of my keyboards cleaned and tuned). And if there are kids involved, Snake Park is a great spot for play and meeting new neighbors.
For a quick lunch we’d head out to one of the many delicious taco stands in the area (my current favorite is the Tacos Azteca food truck on Figueroa & Ave 52.)
One day would be spent exploring the Descanso or Huntington Gardens, or perhaps the LA Arboretum (depending on the time of year). A morning hike to nearby Ernest E. Debbs park to see the gorgeous views of downtown LA is always invigorating. For a more rigorous hike, we’d drive up the 2 freeway to the Los Angeles National Forest to see one of the many waterfalls. A trip to downtown LA to visit MOCA or The Broad would be a must, followed by lunch at Grand Central Market, and a stroll through the Last Bookstore.
For an extra special dinner, I’d head to my favorite local restaurant, Otoño, a Valencian/Catalan inspired eatery with authentic modern cuisine and a great Spanish wine list. After dinner, we’d walk to the Gold Bar for a shot of tasty mezcal, and end the night with dancing at Blind Barber’s backroom.
On a Wednesday night I love to check out the wine tastings at Highland Park Wine and grab a slice at pizza from Triple Beam. ETA is another great eatery and bar that used to host fantastic live jazz performances. The Lodge Room and the Hi Hat are also fun live music venues to check out (I really hope they survive this pandemic!). Sadly, my favorite spot to see live jazz, The Blue Whale, shut its doors permanently earlier this year.
I love all the different Art Walks we have in LA, and of course my favorite one is the one we can walk to, here in Highland Park. I hope it starts up again safely this summer along with all of my other beloved spots in LA.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The unconditional love and support from my partner, Avner Shiloah, is the reason my music is now out in the world.
Alexander Brown, Jac Cron