Amy Smith

Glasgow Barfly on Monday 9 May 2005

The Glasgow Barfly must have the worse atmosphere for a gig venue in the whole of Glasgow. It has a suppressing, callous vibe to it, aided by the fact you descend down into a basement to watch the performances, rather that the uplifting ascent into the cosy interior of Glasgow's King Tut's.

Tonight, indie singer/songwriter Amy Smith was performing. The Barfly's habitual gothic community had decided to give this one a miss, which was what probably accounted for such a small crowd.

Vocally, you could not fail to be impressed by 23 year old Amy Smith. After supporting the jazz sensationalist Jamie Cullum on tour last year, she has been touring the UK's Barfly venues. For someone so new to the music industry it's unusual to find someone so grounded. To me the idea of playing as a solo artist live on stage is completely nerve racking, but Amy seems more at home on stage than she does off it. "It depends on the gig, big gigs, small gigs I don't get any less nervous - because if it's a small gig it's more intimate and equally I don't enjoy one more than the other. They're just very different types of gigs. We did one last week at the Shepherds Bush Empire which was really great, just as great as the small venues; it all depends on my mood."

Amy played at the South by Southwest festival earlier this year. "I was the only unsigned act on the Buffalo Billiards gig on the Friday night, Tom Baxter was playing and Embrace as well, The kinda people you know. I didn't meet Embrace - our paths didn't cross. I saw Willie Mason though. He was my definitely my favourite artist. It is good to hear some nice lyrics and unaffected production."

Amy Smith herself is very lyrically focused and stresses the individuality of her songs. '105 feet high' is a charming song, written in just 20 minutes while Amy was waiting for a train. Not all her material comes as easy as that. "Some take days on end, but the end result is that I have lots of different songs. I think variety is good - I'm writing a new song at the moment, this one sounds a bit more Maggie Mayish."

It has been important for Amy to differentiate herself from the hoards of female soloists who pretend to write their own songs. "Apart from the covers by other artists - I do absolutely categorically write my own stuff and I can't stand it when these people say they write their own stuff when they don't - I swear on my mothers' life that I've written my own songs."

"It's not just female artists either, it's anyone - its male artists that have pretended they slaved away and said 'Isn't it so organic?' They may well have co-written it; and that's absolutely fine but I wish they would acknowledge the fact that this was written by them and the songwriter and do it that way. If I co-wrote a song with someone I'd acknowledge them."

Amy didn't entirely rule out the possibility that she might write for other artists in the future. "At the moment I'm concentrating on my own stuff, but there are times when I'm sat at my piano and I'm trying to write something and I'll have a mess about and try and write a pop song for fun - just to try and unlock the door, creating a bit of distance from yourself - and if any thing good came out of that I wouldn't mind handing it on to someone its suitable for. I think you can't just limit yourself."

Apart from a possible appearance at this years Guilfest, Amy's plans for the summer are to concentrate on writing and recording for her upcoming album.

"Me and my guitarist have just bought a house in Spain and we want to make it a creative type of space. We want to write for the sake of writing in the kinda Lennon/McCartney style of writing and we'll do it together, and we'll do it separately. Also I want to see as much music as I can because that's one of the things that inspires me the most."

Amy doesn't have an exact date for the new ep, but it's expected to be released sometime in June, preceding her debut album. "I'm looking to make something that's not spangley, polished and commercially sounding. I'm inspired by people like Bob Dylan and Van Morrison - that kinda higgledy piggeldy lo-fi liveish sound is what I'm after, rather then the sort of clean polished in-offensive music. I've got enough songs for an album it's just a question of making sure you've got the absolute best ones, I'm happy with all of them and I perform all of them."

On stage Amy is a joy to watch and with a surge in popularity of female indie songwriters, like KT Tunstall and Cathy Davey. I think we may be seeing a lot more of her in the not to distant future.

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article by: Scott Johnson

published: 26/05/2005 10:32

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