Without, Withheld, Within – those are the three parts that Amber Mark split her debut record into. The artist, who was born in Tennessee but lived in different places around the globe from India to Germany, examines her journey from anxiety, imposter syndrome, and fear of failure till finding peace within. Opening one RnB-soul groove of One, she sings “I don’t know if I will ever succeed” conveying fears many artists face, especially in their twenties.

Photo by Nelson Huang

Three Dimensions Deep, like all of Amber Mark’s musical output is driven by her personal emotions. It started with the EP 3.33 on which the artist openly processes the loss of her mother. Now, releasing her debut LP the gap left by loss is still a prevalent one. “I want you proud of me”, Amber sings on the opening track. When I meet the artist for an online interview, she tells me “Music helped me through so many hard situations. I did not want to make an album about the loss of my mother, but she was still involved in the process. She is always with me.”

Songs like One and Out of This World feature the singer talking to her mother. But her lyrics are not the desperate attempt of coping with a gap ripped into life by loss, but instead come from a place of confidence. Three Dimensions Deep documents that process from the initial angst and the constant feeling of not being good enough to the pivotal moment on Worth It, where Amber finds her confidence. “Worth It is breaking out of the cycle of emotions before. I am proud of what I made and if some people do not like it, that does not make me any less of an artist.”

Bending Elements

Three Dimensions Deep also goes beyond musical expressions of the artist. Each music video transports you into a different world. In the process of making the visualizers, Amber Mark tells me, she has been heavily influenced by her love for science fiction movies and series. Across the board, she leaves little traces for the viewers to piece together. In all the videos for example, light is a prevailing theme. Whether it is as a complete dissolve into light, like on Bliss or the beginning of the light within on Foreign Things, the artist seems to have a special meaning attached to it.

“I turned to sci-fi movies and series from when I was younger for inspiration. One show I used to watch is Avatar the Last Air Bender”. She grins as she tells me about the universe created in the series, one in which the elements are manipulatable. “I was obsessed with that show, and I wanted to live in that universe. It also uses a lot of symbols from different Asian spirituality, which was something that I felt really connected to because of my mother.”  

Light Beings

Her mother, a Tibetan Buddhist (even though she was actually German) introduced Amber Mark to a way of spiritual thinking that still influences her until today. “When I was a child, my mother would always try to get me to meditate”, Amber says. And the attempts to calm youthful hyperactivity worked with a few tricks applied. “She used to tell me to just not think about anything. Which did not work for me at all”, the artist laughs.

“But then she came up with a little visualization that helped. I would imagine myself sitting on the world with my legs crossed – on top of the entire planet, like a very large being. And a nectar of light would be beaming into my third eye, filling me up and turning me into a light being. Like that I really learned to focus and to keep my mind still.”

The visualization of herself as light being, stayed with the artist. For Three Dimensions Deep, she enacted parts of the meditative practice and turned them into stunning visuals to her songs.

Without, Withheld, Within

The story of the music videos unfolds alongside the journey of the record. But Amber did not release the videos in order, she admits cheekily. To keep her listeners on the edge of the seat, the chronology is in disorder. The transformation of the artist into a light being is not yet completed, we are still missing some pieces of the puzzle. Later, there will be a compilation of the videos released as a short film, Amber gives away.

“The record is me trying to go through a journey within myself”, and the videos externalize that journey into stunning visuals. Foreign Things is where the journey begins, where the first beams of light, the traces of spirituality shine through. It ends on Bliss, on which the artist turns into a full light being eventually dissolving into dust.

Third Dimension

Another prevalent motive across the videos is the cube. Even on the visualizers to songs without a music video, the artist moves in a rotating cube set against a rich blue backdrop. “I wanted to call the record Three Dimensions Deep. And when I thought of that, the three dimensions, a cube shape is the first thing that came to my mind. So, I wanted to play with that.”

The number three plays a big role in the artists life. Tied to her family, that for the longest time consisted of the three of them; her, her mother, and her brother. The number is also part of the debut EP, 3.33. “When I first started making music, I was embarrassed about recording and did not want anyone to hear. I was also working a day job, so I would always make beats and write at night. There was a span of two weeks during which I would always look at the clock at exactly 3.33am. And more threes started popping up around me after the death of my mother, which was also on the 3rd of June. I wanted to keep that theme on my debut record as well.”

Beyond Perception

Photo by Nelson Huang

Aside of the number three, which plays a big role in Amber’s private life, the number also bears a lot of meaning in the spiritual realm. The boundaries of human perception and the role of spirituality also influenced Amber in the creation process of the record. “I started to do a lot of research on theories on higher dimension and on how we perceive our reality. In three dimensions – Three Dimensions Deep – is how we view the world. Psychologically and philosophically, we are only able to understand three dimensions.”

Amber tells me about the theories she has been deep diving into over the pandemic years. “It is so interesting, there is the math for it, that higher dimensions exist. We know that they exist, but we cannot visualize them.” is that then the boundary of our perception is what Amber Mark asked herself. “That lead me to thinking about how we always talk about love, the soul, and consciousness, which essentially are also things we cannot grasp visually. But we still know that they are there somehow. Maybe they are things we could perceive in a higher dimension. I started playing around with ideas around that.”

Roller-Skating Through Parallel Worlds

Currently, she is reading a book called Parallel Worlds, written by physicist Michio Kaku. And the excitement is palpable as she tells me about it, “sometimes it is so hard to wrap my brain around it that I have to take breaks and come back to it later. You have to re-reestablish the way you look at the world and question the things that you think you know. The process of learning more about this has been so cool.”

“When you get into it and start digging, there are so many theories to be found. It is science but there is a connection to religion and spirituality there as well. I grew up in a spiritual family. As I grew older, I stepped away from that. Working on the record brought out that side of me again and made me feel so much more connected to my mother and myself.”

In the process of recording the record, Amber Mark found her musical and visual voice and learned to listen and trust in it. She dissects each segment of the album in a detailed YouTube video series, which give some more insights into the musical making off. “The album is me going full circle.” All the songs come from the songwriter’s lived experience translated into music, and while the artist lived through some traumatic emotions and experiences, her songs still have “such a vibe” as she calls it. Right now, her favorite on the record is FOMO. “It makes me want to roller-skate”, she laughs. Maybe because she skated with such finesse through the roller coaster of emotions on Three Dimensions Deep.

Three Dimensions Deep is out now via PMR Records and there’s also going to be a tour this spring.