From a cover band star to the release of acclaimed, self-penned debut album ‘Grow’, Amanda St John’s transformation owes a lot to a near death experience, one that forced her to reconsider her musical direction and put everything on the line. A lesson in making the best of a bad hand, results so far include a funded tour and becoming the unlikely star of an Australian advertising campaign. I caught up with the soulful Antrim native ahead of her Dublin gig this weekend…
– You describe a life changing moment that got you performing your own work after years of playing covers. What happened, and how did it change you?
I had a near-death experience in a car accident about 6 years ago when my car went 300ft over the side of a mountain close to where I live. I was unconscious with a bad head injury and no pulse when the emergency services arrived. This sounds very dramatic but I remember a battle within myself to live or die and I fought for my life. I vowed that if I got out of it that I wouldn’t waste another moment and that I’d live my life to the fullest. It changed me in so many ways as it gave me a better perspective and gratitude for life which has liberated me from my negative thinking and the feeling that I’m not good enough that held me back for years. In a funny way it has been a very positive and inspiring experience for me.
– Did you have much of your own music before you had your accident?
I used to write a lot when I was in my teens and early twenties but it was always such a struggle. I used to try so hard to write a song and come up with ideas and I literally thought that they were all rubbish so I lost my confidence and just stopped. I spent the next 15 years singing in cover bands and I had only started writing again shortly before the accident (about 10 years later) but again I was still finding the writing process and completing songs quite difficult. Since the accident I have totally committed to myself for what feels like the first time and the difference is staggering. It’s like someone’s opened the flood gates and I can’t stop the ideas coming now! I had only recorded rough demos too so it’s only since the accident that I’ve pursued it as a career and got proper recordings out there.