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 a spellbinding ballad called “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 6 million YouTube views and more than a million streams following its feature in a 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. Press loved her breathtaking rendition of
Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again” (recorded with Dolly and featured on the talent-filled Dumplin’ soundtrack).
Esquire raves “truly exceptional” and “one of the few moments that an accompanying voice that keeps up with
Parton’s.” Parton also remarked that “It’s truly refreshing working with young talent like Willa”. In addition to her
duet with Dolly, Willa had the opportunity to join another one of her musical influences when Brandi Carlile invited
her to perform a duet 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, a family friend introduced her to 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 five 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 offered to take her under her wing. Willa spent the next two years refining
her craft, recording demos, expanding her songwriting, putting a band together, playing live, and eventually
signing a deal 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 at Rock ‘N’ Relief, at Dodger Stadium in LA, alongside the Silversun Pickups, Miguel,
Foo Fighters, and many more. Amazon Music, Twitch, Rolling Stone and Xfinity Cable live-streamed the benefit
event to millions for Sean Penn’s non-profit CORE, spearheading COVID testing and now vaccines since 2020
without government aid.
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,” she says.
Willa's debut album, I Can Go To Bed Whenever is scheduled for release in June 2021.
The album’s focus track, "Too Close" comes out the same day as the album.