On her way to rockstar status
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From a young age, she knew she wanted to be a singer.
Initially a shy child, her mother put her in drama camps and musical theater to break her out of her shell, which is where Amber Van Buskirk, now known as Amber VanB, realized she had a voice worth pursuing.
Now the 22-year-old former El Camino student is a charismatic backup vocalist for hard rock band Sixx:A.M., formed by original Mötley Crüe member Nikki Sixx.
“She’s not shy anymore,” Toni Buskirk, VanB’s mother, said. “The writing was on the wall for what she’s doing now.”
At the age of 10, VanB joined Belasco Theater Co. in Hermosa Beach, where Theater Director Shanti Belasco watched her creative talents blossom.
“I saw her develop and grow,” Belasco said. “She was always there and committed (so) to watch her succeed like this… she believed in herself and the theater company helped give her that confidence.”
VanB’s roots also trace back to EC with guitar instructor Jon Minei, who said that she was a supportive and eager student with a natural talent.
“Her melodic and lyrical senses were just really gifted,” Minei said. “When you have a really supportive student it makes you a better teacher.”
In 2015, while attending EC, VanB fell into the gig with Sixx:A.M. when her former vocal director set up a recording audition of her singing three Sixx:A.M. songs, she said.
Four weeks later she was on tour performing with heavyweight musicians who’ve been in the industry for over thirty years.
“It was a whirlwind,” VanB said. “It was so fast.”
She recalled the moment of celebrating her birthday on stage at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, just three days into her first tour.
“I turned 21 on the stage,” she said. “It was insane.”
Since joining the band, VanB has traveled all around the world, including a month-long European tour where the band played at unique venues.
“We played a theme park in Sweden called Gröna Lund, and I looked at our drummer Dustin (Steinke), and said ‘our job today is to ride roller coasters and play music,'” she said.
Aside from rocking the stage with Sixx:A.M., VanB is also a singer-songwriter of her own original music, which she describes as pop-acoustic, a talent she has become increasingly more passionate about.
“As I’ve gotten older, writing has become a huge part of what I want to do,” VanB said. “Singing was the avenue that got me here.”
Wearing her signature “warpaint” for every show, a red stripe across her smokey dark eyes, five-foot-nine VanB said being on stage provides a feeling unlike anything she’s ever experienced.
“The adrenaline and connection we get to make with people is unforgettable,” she said. “It’s humbling and inspiring all at once.”