Amy Macdonald, singer and songwriter chats with Kevin Cooper about her musical inspirations, her respect for Newton Faulkner, her latest album Under Stars and her current tour of the UK
Amy Macdonald is a Scottish singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Having sold over nine million albums worldwide, her debut album This Is The Life was released in 2007. Her second album, A Curious Thing was released three years later and she released five singles from it.
Her third album Life In A Beautiful Light was released in 2012 and she waited until this year to release her fourth, Under Stars.
Macdonald has won many awards including the Best Newcomer at the 2008 Tartan Clef Awards and Best Newcomer at the 2008 Silver Clef Awards. In December 2008 she was voted Scottish Person Of The Year by The Daily Record.
Whilst currently on tour she took some time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what she had to say.
Hi Amy how are you today?
I’m good thank you, how are you Kevin?
I’m very well thank you and let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.
That’s okay, it’s not a problem.
And just how is life treating you at this moment in time?
I have to be honest and say that at this moment in time life is very good. I have been on tour for the last month all over Europe and I am now back to begin a UK tour here, starting in Bristol. So as you can see all has been going very well and I can’t really complain.
It’s been a while since you last toured here in the UK. Are you excited about being back out on the road here?
Yes I am, I am very excited because as you say it has been such a long time since I last toured the UK. I seem to be spending almost all of my time touring throughout the rest of Europe so it is nice to finally be back doing a UK tour. I think that the last time was around four years ago now so it is really nice to be on home soil again.
And this time around you have got Newton Faulkner opening for you.
Yes I have and it’s really amazing to think that we both released our very first albums on the same day ten years ago now. So we have both been through the same crazy rollercoaster ride as each other over these past ten years. So it’s really nice to have someone who has been on the same roads as I have when touring here in the UK. Newton is such an amazing performer and for me it is an absolute privilege to have someone such as him on the bill. He’s a good egg so he is (laughter).
Are you a fan of his work?
Yes I am and I always have been a fan of what he does. I think that what he does is amazing and I think that he has inspired a whole load of artists to kind of follow in his footsteps. He was the first person out there doing the kind of crazy guitar playing, together with the loop pedals, and he really was a kind of one man band. Because of that it now seems that so many people have started doing that and I think that Newton is the number one. He really is the best at it especially when you look at the things that he can do with a guitar and his voice; it’s amazing. I really do think that he is second to none.
You will be here in Nottingham on Saturday at the Royal Concert Hall, what can we expect?
Well the tour has been going really well throughout Europe, and my band and I have been spending a lot of time ensuring that the set list is right. I have such an amazing band; they really are such great musicians so for me it is a pleasure to perform with them. We have manged to put together a great set which contains a mixture of all four albums, so there will be some of the new songs but also some of the old songs that everyone knows. The set flows really well and I guarantee that we will be giving one hundred percent on all of the dates here in the UK.
You must be pleased with the reaction from the fans; almost every date on the tour is already sold out.
It’s crazy and I have been told today that this is the best-selling UK tour that I have ever done. As you say almost every date is already sold out and that has never really happened to me (laughter). Even when my first album was at number one in the charts and was a three times platinum selling record, I have still sold more tickets for this tour than I did back then. I have to say that I think that it is encouraging and it reflects a real shift in music. I think that the appetite for live music has never been stronger. I love that as I think that live music is the best part of the music industry and I feel that it is where you prove yourself.
You simply cannot hide behind a fancy production or made up stories in the press to make yourself sound more interesting (laughter). When you are out there on the stage you have just got to do it there and then. I think that really proves who you are as an artist and that is my favourite part of what I do.
I have to say that I have been playing your new album Under Stars for the past few weeks now and being totally honest with you I think that it is great.
Thank you for saying that. I am so pleased that you like it. If I am being honest then I would have to say that I am extremely proud of this album. I spent a lot of time writing the songs for this album together with quite a bit of time in the studio making sure that everything about this album felt just right. I am so glad that I took that time because the finished album is just something that I actually love myself. In fact I would be quite happy to sit back and listen to the album. There are songs on there that I am so proud of. It flows so well; it works really well as a finished album and is something that I am incredibly happy with.
Your previous album Life In A Beautiful Light was released back in 2012. Why has it taken five years for you to release Under Stars?
I’m glad that you have asked me that because a lot of people are thinking that it took me five years to write and record the latest album which simply is not correct. I am the kind of artist that loves to tour and play live. So I will release an album and I can then spend two or three years touring with it. So with my last album, even though it came out in 2012 I was touring with it right up until 2014. So by 2014 I really needed a bit of time to chill out. Towards the tail end of 2014 I started writing for the new album and then spent most of last year in the studio recording and mixing the album.
So as you can see this album didn’t take any longer to make than any of my other records took. It was just because there was so much touring going on and I think that some people think that just because they are not hearing you on the radio or seeing you on the TV they think that you have disappeared off the scene. What they don’t realise is that the world is a very big place and that there are a lot of concerts to be played (laughter).
A lot of people are saying that Under Stars is your best work to date. Would you agree with that?
Yes I think I would; I think so yes. I think that I had the time that I wanted to spend on the record plus I feel that I have grown up and now have more things to write about. I think that came across. I also wrote some of the songs on the album with my band mates and that was really great. I have known some of the band for ten years now and so naturally when you are touring all of the time you start playing and jamming and so it felt like a normal thing for me to start trying to write with a few of them. Having said that, I have to tell you that at first it was bizarre for me because I had never written any songs with anybody before in my life.
This was the first time that I had ever tried it and it just seemed to work. And let me tell you it felt good after ten years of doing something one way. I think that it was nice to shake things up a bit and try something different.
I have to say that at the moment the two standout tracks for me are Dream On and Leap Of Faith.
(Laughter) oh really, well it is really interesting because everybody that I speak to has a different favourite and for me that is obviously a good thing. There is a struggle to decide what should be a single and it is always a bit more worrying if that decision is straightforward, but it is good that everyone has such different favourites. It proves to me that the album is appealing to so many different people.
You have mentioned that you have now been in the music business for ten years. Looking back are you in a better place than you would have wanted to be some ten years ago?
To be honest with you, I would never have expected to have even released an album ten years ago, let alone album four. Here in the UK that is my fourth top ten selling album which is crazy because I would never have dreamed of that. I would never have dreamed that everything could go as well as that. So for me it is just amazing. Whilst I feel super chuffed by it all I also feel very humbled by it all and really thankful to all of the amazing people who have supported me over the past ten years and who have allowed me to do this crazy job.
Who would you say has musically inspired you?
I absolutely love people like Bruce Springsteen. I think that he is an amazing songwriter, an incredible performer and one of the best if not the best. I have been very lucky and have actually seen his show a few times now over the last few years.
What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
For me it is really difficult to say a highlight because I have been so lucky and there have been so many unbelievable things that have happened to me. There have been so many that it is just so hard for me to choose one. I think that for me a major highlight is just being able to continue doing what I love. Also I think that probably the best thing for me is all of the amazing people that I have met and the friends that I now have for life. I would never have met these people without this career so perhaps that is the highlight.
What was the first record that you bought?
The first record that I actually owned was The Beach Boys Greatest Hits which was a gift to me from my gran. However, the first record that I actually bought with my own pocket money was Lifted by The Lighthouse Family and it was actually a CD single.
Who did you first see performing live in concert?
The very first live concert that I went to was to see Michael Jackson on his Dangerous Tour at Wembley Stadium back in 1992.
It doesn’t get much bigger or better than that does it?
No it doesn’t. Everyone else has really embarrassing first concerts but I think that mine is pretty cool (laughter).
What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?
I really do love the theme tune from the movie Gladiator. There are three parts to it and every time that I hear it, it is so moving. It is such a beautiful piece of music; it gets to me every time.
No problem Kevin, thank you very much. I really do hope that you enjoy the show on Saturday. Bye for now.