If you’re looking for an example of a strong woman in the music industry today, how about one who can actually, literally, physically lift her own husband?
‘I could easily squat lift him on my back,’ laughs Amy Macdonald from her home just north of Glasgow, where she is slumped on a sofa in a hoodie. ‘But we’ve not really had those conversations about whether he’d like me to.’
When it comes to one of the country’s finest singer-songwriters, the material may be sensitive and thoughtful – and never more so than on the new album, The Human Demands – but there’s real strength behind it.
‘I am quite muscular and very strong for a female,’ she goes on, explaining that she’s been training with a champion power-lifter and that the set-up of weights she has in her garage kept her sane during lockdown.
‘I think there’s something really empowering about being strong, physically. That’s what I strive for. It’s not really an aesthetic thing, it’s about feeling strong and capable.’
Now in her third decade in the music industry – ‘I signed my first contract in 2006, which seems mad’ – Amy is happy that the new album was all written before lockdown and, apart from the lockdown-based track she released on YouTube – has nothing to do with the current situation.
‘I hope that this time next year no one’s going to be interested in an album about a lockdown,’ she says, adding that planning a tour for the middle of next year has helped by giving her something to focus on, even if she has missed jumping in the car to hang with her mum and dad.
‘I hope it’s just gone and in the past so I don’t want to write about that. I tried not to write a lot during this period, to be honest. I get inspiration from life and living and I feel no one’s really doing that now.’
What did inspire the album were some friends who had been dealing with depression, even before Covid, and how it made Amy realise that sometimes we go through bad times because we’re all so hard on ourselves.
‘It just got me thinking about life and how we put such ridiculous demands on ourselves and each other,’ she says. ‘We feel like we’ve got to be up here all the time, we feel that we have to be available 24/7 and everything must happen now.’
Not that Amy isn’t very content herself, something she puts down to getting older, being more reflective and being settled down.
‘I got married a few years ago and that changed my view on life,’ she says of being hitched to professional footballer Richard Foster, who plays for Scottish League One side Partick Thistle.
‘I realised what the things I should spend more time worrying about were and the things I shouldn’t worry so much about. Having that changed my outlook.’ The fact that she’s now 33 in an industry that tends to be all about women in their early twenties is also something she’s very aware of.
‘I’m not old by any means but in music industry terms I am,’ she says. ‘It’s always the bright new young thing… It can be difficult when you start getting older in certain industries as a woman. Women tend to get judged a lot on how they look, their age.’
Her video for new single Crazy Shade Of Blue certainly rebels against the idea, and is a stripped-back affair, with Amy in a T-shirt and tied-back hair.
She adds: ‘I try not to play that game but unfortunately it still seems to be the world we live in. Women have to jump through a few extra hoops to get to where they want to be and that seems always to have been the way.’
So, being married to a footballer, does she consider herself a WAG? I ask the question tentatively, hoping she realises it’s a joke. ‘I don’t base my relationship choices on what my husband does for a living,’ she says, not outraged, but not laughing. ‘It has never been anything about that.’
But she gets it, adding: ‘Also I’m the breadwinner so definitely not a WAG!’
Amy Macdonald’s new album, The Human Demands, is out now. Her European tour kicks off in Belgium in April 2021 and comes to the UK the following month, amymacdonald.co.uk
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