Welcome to Local Music 'Mericans, where we meet some of the people behind the local music scene -- those who aren't necessarily members of local bands, but more the people who make the scene move.
It's a lifestyle that must be the ultimate cloud of distraction, especially at a younger age. But that's not so much the case for Summer Amshoff.
She's a thinker, dreamer and a bit of a project visionary -- something the rock scene could really use more of on a widespread level. And it appears as if Amshoff couldn't care less about her lean model frame, or striking green eyes. For her, it all seems to be about pushing ahead, and innovating a brainstormed idea into a functioning business model. Apparently, boys and parties will have to wait, and no telling how long.
Somewhere in the middle of Amshoff's drive to be successful entrepreneur, she found herself to be a pillar of support for local rock talent needing some exposure and female models who need help getting their first portfolio together -- and she's been doing most of it via a non-profit business model, and benefiting good causes in the process.
After the jump, we get to the bottom of her motivations.
So, at some point in your youth, something happened that made you fall in love with not only music, but dance.
My mother's love of music spawned the spark of curiosity. The first thing I noticed as a child was the element of change in emotion in response to a person's connection with music. Dance is the same expression. Freedom and emotion. Bad days, no money, heartache... music and dance were freedom. I remember wanting to be a singer early on. I took piano lessons when I was young. My mother was amazing, putting me in every class. I took ballet, tap, jazz, gymnastics, karate, choir and drill team. My second instrument was the french horn in middle school. I kept with the piano and keyboard through high school in my spare time. I was in a band for a short time in my senior year. I took color guard and winter guard for four years, which drastically improved my dance, hand-eye coordination, strength and self-discipline. I started belly dance in high school, and even indulged in fire dance and the freak show talent of swallowing swords. For five years, I followed my other passion in veterinary medicine and wildlife rehabilitation. At 24, I helped birth the company Empire Leather, which is how the music industry heard about me. But, yeah, the strongest influence that shaped me is that my parents -- particularly my mother, who made sure I was treated with no double-standards and like an equal. No regards towards gender. I was allowed to act, say and do as my brother did.
I can picture Summer as a little girl having quite the brilliant imagination for pretending, and what innovative things would come out of your head. What sort of things came from your imagination as a kid that maybe served as a springboard for your real projects as a grownup?
I loved to draw, dance, paint, sing and write music. It started with teaching my younger neighbor routines, and we would perform them for our relatives in our pieced-together costumes. I laugh remembering being so proud of our routines. They were probably so terrible!
Tell us about your girl troupe, Wicked Angels. There seems to be a couple things that sets the operation apart from the typical gathering of hot "rock chicks" that dance on stage. There seems to be more taste, class, etc.
Wicked Angels was my second big venture. We've had that going since early 2008. The original idea behind Wicked Angels spawned from the old company I ran, Empire Leather. Empire had a team of female models that did promo work at different venues and rock shows. We ended up on stage with bands just for fun and good marketing. We also made appearances at the bigger concerts at Verizon, Superpages and Pizza Hut Park, so I could solicit to bands like Slipknot and Devildriver. When I parted ways with Empire Leather, there were so many people that requested our appearances on a promotional level. Bands wanting dancers, models, merch girls, etc. I wasn't exactly interested in that, except that it really meant a lot to my loyal friends and models I worked with. So I made it a non-profit organization. I catered to bands wanting help getting their name out. Having a strong background in dance and music, I was dying to make it less promo and more of a troupe. I'd prefer a band, but that is much harder to find the right girls for. It is now morphing into what I want it to be -- more contemporary-style, less sex-sells style of dance and theatrical performance. One day soon, I hope it'll have it's own music to be performed live with theatrics and dance. We've worked the Dallas stop of the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Tour every year since 2007. We've also performed with Uproar, Judas Priest and at festivals like Cruefest, Garage to Oz and Edgefest. We've been at tons of local rock shows. Far too many to name.
Modeling photography seems to be a big part of the troupes' presentation. The pics are pretty non-boring, arty, and imaginative, without just being blatantly "bimbo." Do you all work together to dream up the themes/concepts for the photo shoots?
A little of everything. Some concepts are chosen by the photographer and some by us.
Most of our work has been with Halo. You can check out his amazing work here. e's a genius photographer for concept and lighting. I find that promotional pictures and prints are a fast way to get our name out there. Since some of our team is striving to be in the modeling world it helps with their portfolios and to, once again, get their name out there.
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How about the troupe's recent trip to New Mexico?
Ahhh! Carlsbad, New Mexico, at the Walter Geralds Civic Center! How I love thee! A place that every band should make it out to. A very nice center with a huge stage and amazing people running everything. The crowd is very responsive and they love rock music the way that Deep Ellum did in the '90s. Curtis McKinney of the "The Metal Shop" on KTUM-107.1 The Nerve coordinates these shows for the Civic Center. We went out the first time with Rivethead, and he asked us to return. They really know how to take care of the talent they brings in. We performed our own routine last time without a band. It was fantastic. We'll be back there again the last weekend of May.
I know you're a big supporter of local rock outfit Rivethead. Who are some other locals that youre a big fan of?
We've had a deep working relationship with Rivethead, with both Empire Leather and the Wicked Angels. They're doing really well now. Hands down, The Razorblade Dolls are my favorite band -- I love them. I also love Hell Society, Scary Cherry and The Bang Bangs, Bit Rot, Spoonfed Tribe, Marquis of Vaudeville, Chant, Faded Grace, Ghoultown, Splinter and Earthrot are some of the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
How about local bands you loved that arent around anymore ?
The one I think of the most is Course of Empire. I miss them very much.
You seem like the entrepreneurial type, with plenty of ideas and vision for things that are up your alley with rock, art, etc. Do you have other ideas for projects that you hope to bring to life, too?
I'm working on morphing Wicked Angels in to a performance-oriented industrial band. That's my dream and goal. I'd love a huge stage act with dance and theatrics in our local scene, and, hopefully, worldwide. Incorporating things like fire, blood, grinding, suspension, paint, back drops, lifts and anything new and innovative that our hungry audiences have been begging to see, or shocking them with something new. Business-wise, I'm saving up for another company to open. I have a few ideas, but until I have the money I don't have an urgency to come up with a business model. Empire Leather cost me a ton and made pretty good money. I feel I know what it takes to run a company at this point. So, I am just taking it one step at a time right now.