Amanda Rose Riley doesn’t believe in waiting for the right time to pursue a dream. When she has new songs but no money for studio time, she sets about recording acoustic albums in her bedroom without missing a beat. When she can’t fill a tour date with a venue booking, she enthusiastically organizes a house show, busks for tips in a public place, or finds a local open mic and makes some new friends. And perhaps most impressively, she has lugged her guitar onto an annual punk cruise to entertain guests informally on five separate occasions – each time uninvited and unpaid, at her own expense. That is a testament both to her belief in the pure value of music and to just how much she itches to provide that value.
Her tendency to act without waiting for permission or perfection has led to some incredible opportunities. She has performed with the Bouncing Souls at the legendary Stone Pony, and with her favorite artist, Frank Turner, on multiple occasions, not to mention a wide variety of other performances from New Jersey to Boston to the middle of England.
Aside from her regular performances and live streams, she writes constantly and participates in songwriting challenges such as 50 songs in 90 days. Even in her spare time, she can often be found reading books and watching videos about songwriting, guitar, or music.
The hard work seems to be paying off as her songs, understated voice, and raw authenticity are resonating with a growing number of fans. Unsurprisingly, she sees them as friends who are helping her build something mutually gratifying, rather than customers to generate profit. When asked what her ultimate dream is, she doesn’t even mention money, fame, or industry recognition. “I want people to connect with me and with each other through my songs and performances… I want to establish a real community, like my favorite artists have done.” And what would be tangible proof of achieving that goal? “I think the perfect compliment would be if someone met the love of their life by bonding over my music or at one of my shows. I’m also looking forward to seeing my first fan tattoos someday soon,” she adds with a laugh.
She has eclectic influences – everything from the unapologetic honesty of punk rock to the catchy hooks of pop. But mostly, she is just herself and a guitar. There is a quirkiness to her deeply personal songs that seem to simply address whatever she is thinking, feeling, or experiencing. She is not writing for an audience but for herself, hoping it will ultimately connect with others. Her newest digital release, Broken Heart – “a collection of unapologetically intense songs about unrequited love” – is out now on all platforms.
It is not very difficult for an aspiring artist to save up for an expensive rig for their live streams or a well-known producer for their albums. But not many start with such a strong vision of the community they want to build and then back it up firmly with the right collaborative attitude and work ethic. It would seem unwise to bet against one who does.