- Tue, 2010-03-02 15:49
Amy Macdonald released her debut album This Is The Life in 2007, since then it has gone on to sell upwards of 2.5 million copies. No mean feat for a 22 year-old from a small town in the Scottish lowlands. But rather than buying a small Pacific island and retiring to the shade of a palm tree, Amy is back with album number two and hoping to do it all again.
I Like Music caught up with Amy to hear about her newly bulked-out sound and how it came about, how she deals with her mad touring schedule and what inspired her to start it all in the first place.
"I Like Music because… there’s so many different styles and there’s something to suit every mood. There’s music for every time and every place.” Amy Macdonald
ILM: How would you describe the vibe of your upcoming second album A Curious Thing to all the fans of This Is The Life?
Amy: To me it just feels like a natural progression. A lot of people heard the electric guitars on the first single and thought ‘Oh no!’, but it’s still me. It’s still my song and it’s still me singing. With the first album I’d never toured and performed proper live shows before, so we just focused on me and my guitar. That was all I’d known. But for the past three years all I’ve been doing is constantly touring all over Europe. When you perform live with your band you give it a little bit more and things are a little bit punchier and edgier, I think that just came across on this album. I think it’s a great progression from the first album and I’m very happy with how it sounds!
ILM: How did playing live affect your songwriting process? Did it change completely?
Amy: It didn’t actually change at it all, apart from obviously giving me a lot more experiences I could write about. I had a 2 month period between touring when I had time to go home and write songs. As the deadline date was approaching I started panicking! I’m not the type of person who can just sit down and churn out songs. It just doesn’t work like that. So when I had the time, I just spent it seeing my friends and having a normal life again. Luckily for me, that ordinary life is what really inspires me. The songs came together really well. I thought I would feel so much pressure, but it didn’t really feel like I was making an album, so it ended up quite a similar process to the first time round.
ILM: Was there a particular moment during the writing process when you really felt you’d hit upon the right sound?
Amy: Not really. I think this time round I actually lost the ability to determine whether something was good or not. Before, when I wrote a song I would feel really excited and think ‘Oh, that’s good!’, but I’ve never really felt like that since. I’ve never had these huge moments when I’ve thought something was brilliant. I don’t think I really started to feel confident with things until we went into the studio and the band started to play their parts as well. That moment of feeling achievement didn’t come until we’d finished in the studio and it was all done.
ILM: How were the first shows you played after leaving the studio?
Amy: I felt like I’d never stopped playing! It was weird to be back in the UK actually. I’ve just being playing gigs all over Europe for the past year and a half, and it’s never stopped. It’s weird that it’s now become strange to be in the UK after having been in Spain and Germany and all over the place! It was really great to be back, and I can’t wait to do another UK tour. It feels like absolutely ages since I’ve done it.
ILM: How do you cope with such a hectic schedule?
Amy: It is difficult, but my band and my crew and the people that I spend most of my time with are probably some of my closest friends in the whole world. It’s really nice to be able to spend this time and share these experiences with my crew. It would be much more difficult if I didn’t have these people that I know really care for me. I think you’d just feel lost, but fortunately I have so many people I can talk to and that I feel comfortable with and trust. It makes such a huge difference
ILM: What have been your best touring moments?
Amy: There’ve been so many, and I feel so lucky! There was one gig in particular in Switzerland. There’s a town called Locarno where they do a festival which consists of a different artist every night for a month. People buy a ticket for specific artists, so you have the feeling of a festival, but it’s purely your gig. It’s amazing! It was so incredible for me, I had the Kooks as a support act, and they’re a band that I absolutely love. I listened to their first album non-stop when I was making my own, so to have them as my support act was really strange! It was such an amazing audience. It was in the middle of a town square in the height of summer and there were 12,000 people singing every word to all of my songs. It’ll take quite a lot to top that!
ILM: What is your advice to people who want to follow a dream career like yours?
Amy: If it’s something you want and are passionate about, all you can do is keep at it and just try your best. Don’t let anybody bring you down...
ILM: When did your passion for music start?
Amy: The first gig I ever went to was Michael Jackson at Wembley Stadium. I’m very lucky I’ve not got an embarrassing one! I loved Michael Jackson but I never properly realised I wanted to make music until I saw Travis performing at T in the Park. It was because of them that I thought I’d love to play the guitar and I taught myself. After that I worked backwards and discovered bands like Oasis and Ocean Colour Scene and all that Brit-Pop music. That’s what really started me getting into this.
ILM: What’s your music collection like?
Amy: I do have a collection, but the weird thing about this job is that it makes me listen to a lot less music than I used to. I do go through phases. When I listen to my iPod I make a playlist up and I listen to things like Bruce Springsteen, The Killers, The Smiths or Guillemots. Just a mixture of anything. I love new music as well, like Mumford and Sons. It’s really cool that there are so many different styles of music now, so I do discover things as I go. But I don’t listen to as much as I used to which is unfortunate I suppose.
ILM: It must be hard to approach music as a fan now that you’re constantly submerged in it?
Amy: Exactly. When I go to gigs now they’re not as enjoyable, ‘cos I’m looking at everything else that goes on. I’m looking at the guitarist and thinking things like; ‘Why’s he doing it like that, that isn’t right!’ I’m the worst person to go to a show with because I’m just constantly criticizing all the little things that people just never notice!
ILM: Who have you seen that has defied that instinct to criticise?
Amy: The Killers are absolutely great, as are Coldplay. I managed to see Bruce Springsteen in America and that was absolutely brilliant! But I just don’t enjoy a gig like I used to, I’m so conscious of all the other aspects of it.
ILM: What are your future plans? What’s left to achieve?
Amy: You just can’t plan. It’s all so up in the air. I could release the album and people could love it or they could hate it. It’s really down to what the public think of your music as to what the plan will be. Next year I’ll just be doing as many shows as I can, and trying to do all the festivals, and all the usual things. If I am still doing this in five years time I’ll be absolutely over the moon, it makes me so happy!