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As Amanda Sum wrapped up her undergrad in theatre performance at SFU, it was clear that music was playing a supporting role in her artistic journey—all of her experimental work incorporated some kind of musical element. “I had considered singing and songwriting hobbies, and had put them on the backburner,” she says. “But I really liked this thought of crossing theatre with music without it being conventional musical theatre.” She applied for a few grants in secret (“I’ve learned since not to be shameful about asking for help,” she laughs) and earned enough support to record three original songs: “Groupthink,” “Mary Shelley” and “Hot-Headed Egos.”
The “Groupthink” music video.
Sum released music videos for “Groupthink” and “Hot-Headed Egos,” and both are rich in girl power and Asian-Canadian influence. The indie-pop videos combine a nostalgic aesthetic with lyrics very true to now, and there’s a striking authenticity that comes from Sum’s wacky nature. All of her recordings were made by an all-female production team and feature an all-Asian female band.
“It’s hard to be taken seriously and viewed as professional when I embody someone who is young, but I can be my youthful self and still crack down to work,” says Sum. Her video “Hot-Headed Egos” reflects the coexistence between child and adult that many of us feel, no matter our age.
Her team is a much-needed representation refresh for the local music industry, which was Sum’s intention from the beginning. “I’m really pleased and really proud of that,” she says. “If I got an opportunity, I want to share it with others who are in the same boat.” Sum has a short dance film premiering in Vancouver’s Festival of Recorded Movement (FORM), taking place in September 2021. She also has an album in the works—look for it in 2022.