Private Playlist: Ah Mer Ah Su makes the case for danceable melancholy

Ah Mer Ah Su. Photo by Matiss Evreoux

Private Playlist is a listening session with Southern California’s most notable musical figures in their private creative environments.

Ah Mer Ah Su’s name derives from the Shinto sun goddess Amaterasu, who is often characterized as the Queen of Heaven. It’s a fitting moniker for Star Amerasu, whose music acknowledges the depths of human experience while striving for a higher state of being. A musical polymath from a young age, Ah Mer Ah Su’s sound originated in her years in musical theatre and her formative training in voice and guitar. Following two early EPs, she released her full-length debut, “Star,” in 2018. As her sound has evolved into a vibrant, pop-oriented creation, her lyrics have similarly moved from the struggles of disenfranchisement to the power of reclaiming one’s space. She appeared as part of TOKiMONSTA’s “Every Woman Live Stream” in March 2021 and is working on a new album to be released this summer.

For this edition of Private Playlist, Ah Mer Ah Su recommends music for twerking, crying, and singing into a hairbrush, from Lady Gaga to Tei Shi.

“I definitely gravitate to tracks by artists that are not necessarily the most bright and happy, but maybe I can still twerk a little to it, or shake a little something and be crying. I think that's the perfect union. ” — Ah Mer Ah Su

Ah Mer Ah Su: The songs I picked are songs that I vibe to. I'm a big vibey type of person. I've been creating music since 2016 under this moniker. It's music that I wanted to give to the world as a gift of healing. Sometimes certain people's stories are not told, and I think it was important for me to tell my story. For me, music is a space for exploration of emotion. I don't necessarily need to be discontent to be creating. I can be very content and make songs, or I could not be in a good space and the music pulls me somewhere else. When I first started making music, I had a loop pedal. And sometimes these songs would start off with a note. I'd sing, then I'd do a harmony, and I'd create this landscape of voices that can pull you into a trance. And suddenly you're transported to a world where nothing matters except for the sound.


So imagine: You've just gotten your venti oat milk latte and you're driving down the 110. All of a sudden, "I Miss That" by Porches comes on, and suddenly you're in a vibe, and you're really feeling the energy of "I miss that, I miss that, I like that. I miss that." For me, the lyrics cognate this ephemeral thing that you used to have, but don't have anymore. And millennials, we have this kind of early-onset nostalgia, right? We're nostalgic for what we did last week. "Those nachos I got from Doomie's, I miss that." And I think all the applications remind us of all the things we did. Seven days ago, you said this thing, and then somebody else finally liked the photo from a week ago. And now you're thinking about that photo again. So we're constantly in this idea that we're missing something. Also, it's just a really good song. It's vibey, you know? I don't know how else to describe it. It's just a good old wholesome vibe. 


Tei Shi had this really synthy, poppy sound for her older stuff. But “Disappear” is something that you’d play in the backyard of a party. People are drinking mezcal, and there's wine spritzers, and the sun is setting. And then you're thinking about how you really actually don't want to be in this moment, even though all these great things are happening. You're sad still. And I guess that is the type of girl that I am, but I love a good "Oh, I want to die," but it's over some kind of bubblegum sound. I definitely gravitate to tracks by artists that are not necessarily the most bright and happy, but maybe I can still twerk a little to it, or shake a little something and be crying. I think that's the perfect union. 


I read this article that said Gussy's "Mornings" is about the morning after a fight, and that feeling of "I've had a fight with somebody that I love," and you have to deal with the conflict now. There's this moment where Gussy says, "I tell you, and you tell me, all the things that you want to hear." That kind of soothing that you have to do after a fight, or sometimes you compromise and say, "Okay, yes, I'm sorry that I said this," and you acknowledge that they had their feelings about what you said and what happened. And you have to come to this resolution. So the song feels like the beginning of the accountability that you have to take if you want to move past the conflict. 


Let me be a regular-degular type of girl for a moment. I'm a Little Monster. I was 17 years old [when] Lady Gaga's "The Fame" came out, and I cut my hair into a mohawk. And I feel like "Rain on Me" harkens back to that era of Gaga. The amount of times I have blasted this song in my apartment, dancing around in my underwear and singing into a hairbrush, it's too many to count. It's more than the 10 fingers and 10 toes I have. And so I'm very grateful for "Rain on Me." It's just a bop if there ever was one.


N'aeem was formerly a part of this group called Spank Rock. He released an album called “Starteesha,” which is really cute. My name is Star, but that's not why I like it. "Stone Harbor" is really nice and really warm. And as far as love songs go, this is a love song, honey. "Every word I read, I think of you. Every song I hear, I think of you." Wow, I would love somebody to talk to me like that. I mean, that's how I talk to a plate of nachos at this moment. But I would love for someone to love me as much as I love nachos or my iced lattes. That would be amazing. Because sometimes I really do whisper sweet nothings to the food in front of me. And I just think it's so great that this person will love someone else so much that he created the most perfect love song of 2020, in my opinion. 


Oklou is a French artist, and the song "Forever" is from a 2019 release. It's also this after-the-fight, after-the-conflict song, a healing song. When I listen to it, I think about that feeling of wanting to be safe and wanting to know that the person I'm with understands me. As someone who struggles with mental health and stuff, I think this song is probably about when you've kind of had a little moment with your mental health, or perhaps a spiral, and you've maybe projected that out onto somebody else. And now you're like, "I went too far with you, no more." This is a song about a specific instance, but this is also a song about a broader sense of conflict. Sometimes we're just in this conflict with ourselves and how we operate in the world. And this is another song that brings that idea of the memory of the conflict. And you're not currently in it, but you remember that moment. You will remember these random fights that you had with people that you really loved and cared about, but you can heal from it. I think that's the thing.

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