At nine years old, Willa Amai began her journey writing songs about heartbreaks she had yet to experience, losses she had never felt, and social injustices she didn’t even know existed. With eclectic inspirations - from Regina Spektor records played during bath time to the poetry books her parents read to her - this Los Angeles native quickly amassed a body of work revealing lyrical complexity far beyond her years. She also created imaginative melodies, something she partly attributes to synesthesia (a neurological phenomenon in which one sense triggers the perception of another sense, like seeing letters and words as color). Now 17, Willa is sharing her music with the world, showing the extraordinary depth of her narrative voice and the subtle power of her songwriting.
Since contributing the spellbinding “Scars” to the Served Like a Girl soundtrack in 2017, Willa has captivated audiences with songs like her stripped-back and beautiful cover of Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”, garnering over 6M YouTube views and over a million streams following its feature in a Cannes Lion and Clio Award-winning TV spot for QuickBooks. The song was also awarded Variety Magazine’s coveted ‘Sync of the Year’ in the industry-leading award event honoring the best in advertising. Esquire Magazine calls her breathtaking rendition of Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again” (recorded with Dolly for the talent-filled ‘Dumplin’ soundtrack) “truly exceptional, one of the few moments that an accompanying voice keeps up with Parton’s.” Parton also remarked that “It’s truly refreshing working with young talent like Willa”. Willa also had the opportunity to join another one of her musical influences when Brandi Carlile invited her to duet live at the Great American Music Hall.
Through the years, Willa broadened her sonic palette by taking up guitar and ukulele, self-recording all her material via her computer’s Photo Booth app. At 12-years-old, Amai met multi-platinum, Grammy Award-nominated producer Linda Perry (P!nk, Adele, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera), for whom Willa played a fragment of a piece she had recently written. “I was terrified,” Willa remembers. “I got through maybe half the song and Linda was just silent, and then she looked at me and said, ‘Come back in three months with 5 more songs.’” When Willa
showed up with 6 songs that were emotionally well past her years, Perry realized there was much more to this young musician and took her under her wing. Spending the next two years refining her craft, recording demos, expanding her songwriting, putting a band together, playing live, she signed with the label/publishing/management company Perry co-founded. In her cover of “What’s Up”, the smash-hit originally released by Linda Perry’s 4 Non-Blondes, Willa delivers a captivating rendition of the iconic song, adding a very relevant, modern meaning
to “What’s going on!” Willa slowly and powerfully conveys the message of intolerance in the institution, a frustration that still resonates almost thirty years later. The music video was shot, styled, and directed by Willa’s peers, all no older than 18.
Amai recently performed live for Rock ‘N’ Relief, at Dodger Stadium in LA, with the Silversun Pickups, Miguel, Foo Fighters, and others. Amazon Music, Twitch, Rolling Stone and Comcast Cable live-streamed the benefit to millions for Sean Penn’s non-profit CORE, providing COVID testing and vaccines since 2020 without government aid. Amai is also an ambassador for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), advocating education, and helping NAMI expand a national mental health movement that builds better lives.
I Can Go To Bed Whenever is Willa’s eagerly awaited first album, produced by Perry and recorded in Los Angeles at Perry’s Greenleaf Studios. As she’s immersed herself in the making of this debut album, Willa has felt her songwriting expand and evolve. “There are so many little things that I never paid attention to before – like the space between words, and the power of silence,” she says. “Now that I’m aware of those things, it feels like my songs have more weight to them.” At the same time, she’s also kept up with the instinct-driven process behind her refreshingly
unaffected songwriting. “When I’m writing it’s almost like I’m turning on a radio,” she says. “It might take a few songs to find a station that comes through, but once I do find it, it’s just right. It’s like the song already exists, and my job is to pull it out of the air and into the world.” For Willa, the act of bringing songs to life has always served a certain emotional purpose. “I feel like my mind is always going a mile a minute, and music’s like an escape from that – a way to slow down and breathe because time doesn’t move when I’m writing,”
I Can Go To Bed Whenever released on June 4, 2021. The album’s focus track ”Too Close” came out the same day as the album. Critics are already raving - Flaunt Magazine calls the debut “Raw and Vulnerable”, and Wonderland Magazine says “You know we love a rising star. There’s just something so magical about seeing someone soar straight over the precipice of global fame into a career that will change the lives of so many – but Willa Amai is more than that, this is a musical prodigy whose voice speaks for a generation so unlike all those before.”