Long Island, NY – In a world that separates “Rockers” from “Women Rockers”, we love to see women kicking butt on the music scene! Bold magazine had a great opportunity to sit down with Ali Amato – lead vocalist for the NY Band Undercover. The first thing you’ll notice at one of Undercover’s shows is Ali’s emotional performances reminiscent of singers such as Janis Joplin, Leanne Rimes, and Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries. One of our favorite things about watching Ali ROCK on stage is the fact that she says and does whatever is on her mind. She truly is BOLD!
BOLD had a chance to fire off a few questions Ali’s way. Keep reading to see why we can’t get enough of her!
BM: How long have you been singing?
AA: Every singer says it, but really for as long as I can remember. I remember putting on performances in my kitchen when I was 5 years old for my family, singing “Part of Your world” from the little mermaid. I’d sit in my room and listen to “Celine Dion” or “Mariah Carey” albums and just sing to myself. I was weird. I guess at some point early on my family and teachers noticed something there and began encouraging me to try out for local plays and talent shows.
AA: I haven’t been in many other ‘bands’, per say. Jon and I have been singing together for years before Undercover, but I also did a lot of collaborations beforehand. I really like experimenting with different styles of music, and worked on projects with friends from different rock bands writing original songs for a while. I worked as country demo singer for about 6 years, developing myself at the same time as a country-pop singer (which is my main passion). I’ve sang hooks for local rap artists – just about everything! I love to experience different areas of music.
BM: What’s your favorite part about headlining a rock band?
AA: Oh man. Everything? Who doesn’t dream about being on stage with a live band behind you, and conjuring your inner rock star? It’s such a release, and I surprise myself every time. Learning how to work a crowd and keep people entertained is definitely one of the greatest perks.
BM: What’s on the horizon for you? Are you hoping to make this a career?
AA: I always want this to be a part of my life. I would love to make a career out of it – but like a true bold woman – I want so many other things too. I am happy as long as singing is in my life in some form. Whether it’s teaching lessons or playing gigs, I know I’ll never be without it.
BM: What advice do you have for young women wanting to be in a rock band?
AA: This is so cliche, but really – BE YOURSELF. Don’t fall into any category because you feel you have to. I think it’s really easy to fall to the pressures of being something your not just because you’re the girl in the band – just show people who you are. That’s what they wanna see. If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re awkward, be awkward! You can’t be anything other than you, and people can tell if you’re faking it.
BM: What’s your favorite part of working in music?
AA: I think the best part of working in music, in my case, is getting the chance to tell other peoples stories, and feeling them as my own. I really love taking songs and singing them my own way – trying out different things and experiencing the music the way the artist intended. It feels special to get to do that.
AA: I think the biggest challenge I’ve faced in my music career is realizing that people will put theirselves before you. When it comes down to it – it’s a business and people will do what they want, even if it means screwing you over. It’s challenging for me because I am not like that, and I tend to have more faith in people than they sometimes deserve, but thats a trait that I don’t want to lose. My biggest struggle is trying to hold on to who I am and not be surprised when things like that happen. Sometimes you have to do whats best for you, and that doesn’t mean being selfish. You live and you learn. It thickens your skin, for sure.
BM: Tell us a great story about your time in music. It could be funny, inspiring, quirky, whatever.
AA: Oh man – there was this one time we had a gig, and the weather was horrendous, so we didn’t have much of a crowd. There was this ridiculously drunk girl who was coming up to Jon, and I, screaming the songs in our faces, and stealing the tambourine. We kinda just let her do her thing for a while, and in between songs we’d shout her out because well, she was the only one dancing and thoroughly enjoying our set out of the 10 people who were there. Then she bends over, wearing a dress….and clear as day, not wearing any panties, totally moons us. I mean I saw EVERYTHING. I really didn’t know how to respond to that….so I appropriately dedicated the next song in our set to her….”Brown Eyed Girl”. She loved it, of course. You get a lot of goodies like that when you play in the bar scene.
BM: What opportunities do women in music have that men do not? What types of added challenges?
AA: That’s a rough question – because I feel like working in music is hard enough for anyone coming into it man or woman, but I could definitely see how women could feel the pressure to prove themselves as serious artists/musicians more. It can be intimidating being the only chick working with 4 other dudes. There’s A LOT of ego’s working in music, and it’s so important to hold your own and represent yourself as the strong woman that you are, who knows her shit. I think women also face the challenge of feeling like that have to be the “sexy bass player” or the “sexy lead singer” just because they are the woman in the band. If you have seen any of my shows….I am definitely not the sexy lead singer. I am as awkward as they come, I am not anywhere near a size 0 and I take a lot of pride in that. As far as having more opportunities, I think being a woman could work as an advantage because people respond to seeing a female lead guitarist, or a female drummer, female singer…what have you. It’s definitely cool and inspirational to see a woman in a spot where a man would usually be, and totally rocking it.
AA: Oh man – what makes me, me…….I’m Ali! I laugh at everything – I have a ridiculous sense of humor – I burp in public. I grew up with three brothers, so I am definitely not the poster-girl for being lady-like. I am VERY friendly, and can make friends with sheet rock if you gave me enough time. I love the way I am, and I wouldn’t change it for anyone or anything.
We had a blast interviewing Ali and we know you’d love her too! If you live in the NY area, check out Undercover’s PACKED summer line up on their website below.