Scottish singer and songwriter Amy Macdonald reached international success in 2007 with the hit song This Is the Life which entered the top 10 charts in 16 countries achieving multiplatinum status.
Just like Hey There Delilah by Plain White T’s turned out to be the one and only hit about long-distance romance that year, This Is the Life quickly became the soundtrack of countless parties, dances and holidays for countless Millennials all over the world in 2007.
Amy Macdonald’s story is one of a kind: after attending a music festival in her native Scotland at age 12 and falling in love with Travis’ signature song, Turn, she taught herself how to play the guitar just to be able to reproduce that tune.
She later discovered a talent for songwriting and, as a teenager, started performing in pubs in Glasgow; she signed her first record deal aged 20, as a result of having sent a tape in response to a newspaper ad.
More than a decade and twelve million records sold later, the lady who wrote, composed and sang This Is the Life in 2007 put out her fifth studio album during the inhuman year 2020; the record is cleverly named The Human Demands and offered the opportunity to arrange this interview with Amy Macdonald.
Amy, how do you feel when you hear This Is the Life playing on the radio?
I will forever love This is the Life. I wrote it in my bedroom when I was 16 years old and it changed my life, my family’s life and my friends’ life. I would never, ever have believed what an impact it would have had. It still feels weird when I hear myself on the radio. I will never get used to it. It still puts a big smile on my face.
What was your dream job as a child? Did you have a plan B?
I never really had a dream job. It wasn’t something I spent a great deal of time thinking about. I absolutely loved the idea of working in music but never really thought that would happen. I was about to start university and I had planned on becoming a teacher for no other reason than I would get 7 weeks off during the summer. Probably not the best reason to get into teaching and perhaps it was a godsend for prospective pupils that I chose another path.
Did you eventually get to meet Travis and tell them that you decided to become a musician at age 12 after hearing their song Turn?
I supported Travis right at the start of my career. It was an incredibly surreal experience for me because I genuinely don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing without their record The Man Who. I think I was too nervous to say anything. I have met them a few times since and they are so lovely. Fran Healy emailed me about writing some songs together a few years ago, I was about to start a long tour so I couldn’t make it work at that point but it’s definitely something I’d love to do, although I might be too nervous.
Are there any artists you would like to collaborate with?
I am so open to collaborating with anyone. I’m very shy when it comes to working and not quite assured of my own ability so I’d probably never approach anyone but I’d always be happy to chat ideas with people who are interested. It’s always quite an honour when people want to do something with you. The strangest experience was doing a song with Ray Davies of The Kinks. He’s a legend and it seemed unreal that he wanted to sing with me.
What do you think about talent shows like The X Factor?
I think they’ve probably run their course. I find it quite troubling that young artists are handed the world on a plate and effectively have the rug pulled from under them when they’re no longer the next big thing. I don’t know how people can treat others like that and I wish these artists were given the time and support they deserve. They are just treated like cheap entertainment and that doesn’t sit well with me. I wish there was a better way for artists to get a chance.
How was The Human Demands born and what does it mean to you?
I started writing this album in 2018 and continued through 2019. I started recording in 2020, had a lockdown halfway through, and managed to finish everything at the end of summer. The record has had a very unique start in life and it felt incredibly strange to be releasing music at that time but music helps people and I felt a duty to get it finished and out there in the public domain. The record is very impactful and will resonate with so many people. It has substance and meaning and I think it came along at the perfect time in 2020. I am incredibly proud of it and couldn’t wait to share it with my fans.
You are Scottish, so what are your views on Brexit?
Brexit is a pile of shite. There’s really no other way of putting it.
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