Amy Duncan: songwriter ready to emerge from her Cocoon pandemic
FOR every active musician, the confinement has been hard. Aside from those who moved their performances online, the paraphernalia of live work remained locked in flight cases, with an idea of when it would be fed.
The irony of this was not lost on Edinburgh musician and songwriter Amy Duncan, who performs to a live audience live at her hometown Voodoo Rooms tonight, to launch her album, Cocoon.
Amy sees this as a new beginning, 15 years after the start of her career. “I don’t know why, but I’ve always kept myself fairly hidden,” she says. “Making music is easy for me, promoting it has always been the hardest part. Ironically, 2020 had to be the year I got started. I had a live agent for the first time and had booked a tour.
So… well, we all know that.
Rather than performing online, she took to creating new music and, to deviate from the norm, found a comfortable new home by dipping her musical toes into electronics. Cocoon is her eighth album since 2006 – she’s built an audience in her own way. Described by some as folk, his writing is broad and limited by genre.
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With this approach under the radar, she had space for experimentation. “While we were all staying at home, I thought at first that I would just do an EP – I don’t feel like myself if I don’t do something musically creative. I’m still writing about what’s going on around me at that time, so inevitably that would be life during blockages. ”
Again, the songs look at this era in a broader way. “We all have our own ideas of how we’re going to get out of this. I can be the smallest things. I’m a little nervous about the launch concert tonight, especially because it will also be broadcast live. I have never done a concert where I play in front of an audience but also where I am filmed. I’m as prepared as I can get and also have two great musicians with me on stage, so I’m not totally alone up there.
Tonight, she will be joined by Guy Nicolson (Moishes Bagel) on percussion including Indian tablas and Pete Harvey (Modern Studies) on cello and bass.
Amy (above) understands the need for a live broadcast, as some people are still reluctant to attend concerts. “It took a while, but in the end I came to see Thundercat at the Festival, then I attended the SAY Awards. Everyone must take things at their own pace. ”
Music has always been a part of Amy’s life. His parents met, we were members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. His father is a conductor and violinist, and his mother played the first viola in the Halle orchestra.
Following in her mother’s footsteps, she began studying double bass at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester at the age of 17. to.
“When I gave up after a year, I was living in a shared flat in Glasgow and I didn’t have my double bass, so I bought a guitar which was in the apartment. I started to learn by playing things like Bob Dylan songs.
“After that I started to write but I didn’t really do much with the songs.
To be honest, I think I was writing them down just to see if I could write.
When Amy resumed her studies at the then RSAMD (now RCS), she also joined a group as a double bass player with Cora Bissett’s band, Swelling Meg.
“When I got there, I moved away from classical playing and started experimenting with the double bass a bit more. I knew then that I was moving away from the orchestral path; I found the game with the group so exciting.
When Amy graduated, she also became the mother of Finn, who is now 21 and studying at RCS as part of a traditional music class. He contributes a little guitar to Cocoon.
“Swelling Meg broke up when Cora decided to go the theater route,” says Amy. “It was clearly the right decision for her because we weren’t making any money. I think if we had had the resources like the Internet, we could have done something very well. ”
Working with small labels has given Amy the space to develop her sound and what she means. “I felt I had to do it my way. For me, writing about really personal things is a way of sorting through my head. I think a lot about why I present myself this way, but that’s because I need people to hear it.
The tracks on Cocoon were arranged and recorded by multi-instrumentalist Amy at home. Finn brought more than his impressive fingerpicking style to the table.
“I really appreciate Finn’s opinion. It is really simple – not rude, but you know what you are getting. There was a song called Treasure Hunt where he said, “No, I don’t really like that”, and on another listen I could see what he meant.
“I kept the words but rewrote everything else and it made it a lot stronger.”
COCOON was mixed and mastered by Cameron Malcolm, who produced Paul Buchanan of The Blue Nile’s solo album Mid Air in 2012. His previous three albums were produced by Cameron’s father, Calum Malcolm (The Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout).
“I really enjoyed the electronic element that went into this album, but I would really like to work with someone where electronics are their thing. Collaborate with a real electronic music producer and do something with really full sound. Every time I take something out I like to have a little bit of contrast.
Following the album launch tonight, there is a small series of dates next spring, including a concert in Glasgow at Hug & Pint on April 10th.
“There are four dates so far next year,” she adds. “It has been difficult to get dates now that everyone has postponed dates, but I hope we get more. I also need to think carefully about the environmental aspect of the tours, but I am ready to take the start that 2020 has interrupted.
To check ticket availability for tonight’s live event, search for Amy Duncan on Eventbrite. To get a ticket for tonight’s livestream, log on to www.amyduncan.bandcamp.com/merch/cocoon-album-launch.
Cocoon is released this Friday, November 26 on Filly Records.