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Music Interview

Amy Macdonald

By
Amy MacDonald
Very few singer-songwriters shift three million copies of their first album, and even fewer do so while remaining as grounded as a Boeing 747 during a thunderstorm, but that's exactly what Amy Macdonald managed with her 2007 debut This Is The Life. Then this year's follow-up, A Curious Thing, went on top the Europe-wide albums chart. Quietly impressed and keen to find out more, we called the Scottish songstress for a chat about everything from the fame game to being misquoted by The Sun to the importance of JLS.

How do you feel about the response to your new album?
"Fans have been responding really well. I'm excited to be back on tour and doing festivals again because that's when you see the genuine response from proper punters. I don't really pay too much attention to reviews, because I don't really care! I'd much rather have the opinion of my friends and family and my own fans."

Do you prefer playing live to being in the studio?
"Touring is the best part of what I do. Being able to travel and perform live in so many different places is what makes me absolutely love this job. I do love the feeling of writing a song that you're really happy with, and getting a band to add in all the bits and pieces and hearing it come together, but nothing's ever 100% until you're on stage in front of a crowd giving it some."

Did you feel a lot of pressure following up your first album?
"When I started this album, I was still in the middle of playing festivals and touring so I wasn't really thinking about it like that. I wrote and recorded the whole thing in two months and I never really went into the studio as such. It was all done in my producer's 'bedroom studio' and we added bits later on, so I never really felt like I was making an album again. Fortunately nobody put any pressure on me either."

There are a couple of tracks about celebrity and personal appearance on the album, one of which is your new single 'This Pretty Face'. Is it about anyone in particular?
"It's just general, but there are a million people it could be about. A lot of people focus too much on what they look like. I think it's completely natural to take pride in your appearance, but it shouldn't be the most important part of your life. This is especially true with the music industry. It should be about the music, not about how someone looks. When I hear a song on the radio, I don't care if someone's short, tall, fat, thin or whatever."

And the song 'An Ordinary Life' is about the hangers-on that surround Gerard Butler?
"Yes. I was invited to his film premiere and it was such an alien world to me because I don't normally go to things like that. People just never left him alone and I really couldn't believe it. It made me really grateful that I can do my music, do well with it and still have an ordinary life."

Is 'Spark' really about the death of James Bulger?
"No, it's not. That's a made up story from The Sun - what I said was completely taken out of context. When I read what The Sun had written, it totally shocked me because I'd never really been the victim of that kind of thing before. It made me feel really terrible because I thought people might get upset by what they thought I'd said."

What happened after that?
"Thankfully, the person who wrote it apologised to me. I'm probably one of the only people in the world who can say they've had a Sun journalist apologise to them for writing nonsense!"

You've worked with Paul Weller and covered Oasis. Have you always been a fan of classic British guitar-pop?
"Totally - that's what made me start playing the guitar. I absolutely loved Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and Travis and all your Britpop music. I went to T In The Park, saw all the bands there and thought, 'I want to do this'. Now I listen to bands like Kasabian and The Killers too."

What was it like meeting Paul Weller?
"When I met him I was doing my first ever tour back in 2007, so it was a really big deal. I was totally new to this industry and suddenly I was there supporting Paul Weller across Europe. It was incredibly frightening but fortunately he and his crew were just so welcoming. We got on really well and we've kept in touch. He said to me, 'If you need a recording studio you can use mine,' and I took him up on the offer!"

What do you think about all the Britpop bands reforming of late?
"I think it's great because they still have a big audience. Ocean Colour Scene in particular can still sell out massive venues in Scotland. They still have an amazing back catalogue and so many legendary songs and so many iconic guitar riffs that you recognise as soon as they start. They always put on a great show. I think it's good that they keep going because they just love the music and they love performing."

Do you think talent shows are a big problem in today's music industry?
"I don't think so, not now. In the past couple of years they've provided bands that people wanted - bands like JLS. We hadn't had a good boyband for years, so JLS coming along was definitely a good thing. It gave young people something to really love again and otherwise they'd have missed out on that experience."

Finally, have you started thinking about your third album yet?
"Definitely not! Right now I'm just so busy. I'm pretty much scheduled up until next year with the festival season and commitments in Europe. After that I'm hoping to go to Australia and Japan, so I think it'll be a while yet before I do a new album."

'This Pretty Face' is released on July 19. A Curious Thing is available now.

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