At our Nashville creative retreat, we had the immense privilege of listening to the music stylings of one Amy Stroup. You’ve certainly heard this woman’s talent; her songs have appeared on hit television shows including Pretty Little Liars and This Is Us, her band Sugar + The Hi-Lows has opened for Chris Stapleton, Kings of Leon and toured with Kacey Musgraves.
But that’s not all.
She’s also co-founder of Milkglass Creative, a Nashville-based agency specializing in bespoke packaging, illustration, custom branding and print collateral. Amy stays busy, but perhaps more impressive is her ability to prevent a packed schedule from draining her creatively. We caught up with Amy as she gets ready to release her newest single “Magic” (out today!) to chat about music, influence and what it’s like being a woman in her field.
Darling Magazine: As a woman, what creative insight have you learned about the music industry?
Amy: Going with your gut and being yourself is so important. These days it seems there are no rules to getting to where you want to go. That being said, it’s important to figure out what works for you and define for yourself what success looks like. For me, that meant I wanted to make great art and songs with people I love. If you don’t define success yourself, then there will be plenty of people who want to tell you what that might look like for your life.
DM: How would you describe your sound and what makes it unique?
Amy: I always start with trying to write the best song I can and then serve the song with the coloring it needs. If a couple of artists or bands had a baby, I’d say I’m influenced by Stevie Nicks, The National, Solange and Lucinda Williams.
If you don’t define success yourself, then there will be plenty of people who want to tell you what that might look like for your life.
DM: How many instruments do you play?
Amy: Guitar, piano, trumpet, tambo and a lot of randomness in-between. You don’t want me playing a drum kit in the band.
DM: You have a new single, “Magic,” coming out today! What musical influences inspired this song?
Amy: While working on my new record, I wanted to mix it up and write with people who had different influences than me. That said, one of my main writing partners, Mary Hooper, and I set off to LA to mix it up and take some fresh co-writing sessions. We were paired to write with the SUPERCOOKIES production team by Jess Martin, who we work closely with at Secret Road Music in LA.
We met up at 10PM in Sherman Oaks at a studio with an outdoor basketball court. We immediately hit it off with Wesley and Taylor and had a song written and scratch vocal tracked in about three hours. We just met in the session and were just talking, but Taylor was kind of playing this sweet bass line under a beat that Wesley was messing with. We kind of all stopped talking and I just starting singing melodies over it.
“Magic” mixes my throwback, their modern hip hop and Mary’s sweetly-penned lyrics. Most people know Taylor Dextor and Wesley Singerman from their work on D.R.A.M’s track “Broccoli” that still is going viral. The guys were really kind, cuss-word talented and, my favorite part, unassuming.
DM: What message do you hope your artistry/music conveys?
Amy: I hope my music will help people run faster and longer in a workout, enjoy washing dishes, look forward to traffic, find a new summer song, want to love somebody more and maybe even find their favorite sad song. Also, I want people to know we are all messy and imperfect and that that is wonderful and doesn’t affect our worthiness of being loved.
DM: What fuels your songwriting process?
Amy: Good art inspires art; it can come from anywhere. For me, conversations with friends, random indie films, nephews’ baseball games, going to the MOMA, rain, words on a page, food made with love around a table of friends are all some sources. Really, just seeing people live in their own individual greatness inspires me to do the same in the song medium.
Really, just seeing people live in their own individual greatness inspires me to do the same in the song medium.
DM: How has your investment in the Milkglass Creative affected your creativity?
Amy: Milkglass is a company that myself and my good friend Mary Hooper started seven years ago. Milkglass is the umbrella company under which we both create and collaborate. Mary’s default medium is design and mine is song, but lots of collaboration happens beyond that. It’s a company based on common values instead of various other goals. I think that is why it’s been so successful.
We define our bottom line around something one of our favorite authors Madeleine L’engle said, “You either add chaos to the cosmos or cosmos to the chaos.” Our company tries to solve visual problems, sound problems and serve our clients the best we can. The variety keeps it all interesting and the good energy and inspiration in my life going.
DM: In working with so many different clients, how do you manage to stay innovative and fresh while implementing brand strategies?
Amy: We just try to stay curious and be constant observers of what people are drawn to. Each person or company has their own natural uniqueness and we try to hone in on it and bring it out in our clients.
DM: What’s been the most important piece of advice you’ve implemented over your career?
Amy: I remember meeting Marty Stuart at a Johnny Cash photography exhibit when I first came to Nashville. He asked me what I wanted to do with my career and I told him I wanted to be a songwriter. He then said, “Do you have nine years in you?” It was nine years almost to the day when I could finally do music full-time. It’s that fine art of hanging out and the resilience to keep going that has kept me floating.
DM: What would we be surprised to know about you?
Amy: I never learned how to dive at swimming lessons. I still can’t.
Images via Kelsey Cherry