Since breaking through with her 2007 single This Is The Life, Scottish singer songwriter Amy Macdonald has gone on to have huge success across Europe and the UK. MusicRadar caught up with her to talk guitar inspirations, song writing and new album Life In A Beautiful Light…
When did you start working on the new album?
I took the whole of 2011, just because I'd been on tour since 2006 basically, so I'd had four years of constant travelling about and I'd not really been at home. But I hadn't actually planned on writing in that year, or doing anything for that matter, I just wanted to see my friends again and be near my family and not have any worries. But being home and being in that environment was actually really inspiring for me, and the album just came out of nowhere and came together really quickly without me having to think about it too much.
The songs were came quite naturally then?
I never forced myself to write anything, I just waited until I felt inspired. When I felt like that I'd pick up the guitar, and the songs came together as quickly as that.
Do you mainly write on the guitar?
Always, yeah. I taught myself to play on one of my dad's guitars when I was about 12, and then my dad bought me my own one about a year later, which was, well, I can't even remember what it was called now if I'm honest! But he got me that, and a year or so after I got a Takamine, which was the one I started to play gigs with. I taught myself to play after going to T In The Park festival, I was really inspired watching all the bands and it made want to be able to play.
Who were your early guitar heroes?
I was young when it was the whole Britpop thing, so I loved Oasis and I loved Ocean Colour Scene and Travis, as well as The Libertines and bands like that.
Have you always stuck to the acoustic?
I've always just been an acoustic player. If you're going to start with an electric, you need an amp and everything like that. Whereas you can just rock up anywhere with an acoustic guitar and start playing, and be relatively quiet and not annoy anyone!
What's your writing process?
I don't actually have any sort of process! The most important thing for me is waiting until I feel that inspiration, and when I feel like that I usually pick up my guitar, and because I've got something in my mind that I'm inspired by then usually the song comes out.
What did you get up to in your year off?
Nothing really! I was just at home the whole time. Everyone says to me 'did you go travelling, did you go on some exotic holiday?' but you spend all your time travelling when you're on tour, so it was nice to not have to do that, and to put my suitcase away and not touch it for a whole year. I just hung out with my mates, went down the pub or went to the cinema, nothing all that interesting or extravagant or anything like that.
Did you miss being on the road or was it a relief?
You totally do, especially because some of my closest friends now are my band and the crew because you spend so much time with them. You miss them more than anything, and you miss the camaraderie that you have, but it's good 'cos you know you'll always go back to it. We're fully back in the swing of things now and it's really good, everyone's really rested and it's really perfect right now.
Did you to explore much new music during your break? What did you find yourself listening to?
To be honest I don't really listen to much music when I'm writing my own, it's strange. I always listen to a lot of radio, but I became slightly obsessed with TalkSport, that's all I listened to! I always have things on in the car and whatnot. I really enjoyed the Black Keys album, Noah and The Whale, bands like that, but not so much for inspiration, just to enjoy myself.
When did you get into the studio to begin work on this record?
Well I do it in a really funny way, I go and sit with my manager, he's got a little studio, and record demos so that we can decide what we want it to sound like before we get anyone else involved. He produces for me as well. By the end of the year we had 15 songs which were made up to a demo level that we were really happy with. Then we got the rest of the band involved and went into a proper studio. I don't really have to go, because I do all my bits in my manager's studio. I went down for one day to replace all my vocals, but all the guitars I'd put down were all fine. We recorded at a place called State Of The Ark in Richmond.
What's your main guitar at the moment?
I'm not really that much of a muso, and as long as it's got string on it I'm happy, but right now I'm using Taylor guitars. I change tuning a lot for a lot of my songs, so I have two ready to go and a third one if anything goes wrong. I'm really happy with them.