“With ‘Gleam’, that word stuck in my head for a minute,” Amal says. “It’s an irresistible light, and that’s how I think of music, like, that’s what it means to shine: you shine, like, ‘Look at that, you Homework look at this.’ On a more personal note, this is me fighting to say, “Hey, I can do something on this level.” And that’s something I struggled with for a while.

He built his confidence through experience, slowly and everywhere. At 14, while her family was living in Nairobi, Amal got her first part-time job as an audio file editor for a company that made ringtones. At age 16, his family moved back to Silver Spring, where he began playing drums in the school jazz band and weekend punk bands. (His mother already had him play the djembe when he was 11; his father played him Bad Brains records before that.)

At 17, Amal began volunteering as an engineer at the University of Maryland radio station, and at 20, he landed a summer internship at Sony Pictures in Los Angeles to work on sound design for a “Jumanji” movie. At 21, he was back home, producing, engineering and DJing for an array of DC rappers — including WifiGawd and the Khan — under the name CoziBob. “I really gained my trust from them,” says Amal.

Now, after pouring everything he’s learned about momentum (drum circles, mosh pits) and scale (ringtones, blockbusters) into the maximum spurt of “Gleam,” Amal says getting it all out helps him. to understand where it is.

“We’re all feeling so existential in the pandemic, so with this project, it’s like finding out where I fit in, not just musically, but as a 24-year-old around the world,” he says. “I don’t think, ‘Oh, is this track going to play in the club?’ I don’t think of it that way, I think of it as an expression.

Amal’s “Gleam” EP is available on Bandcamp.

More from Chris Richards: