FOR every working musician, lockdown was tough. Apart from those who moved their performances online, the paraphernalia of live work remained locked away in flight cases, with idea when it would be powered up a gain.

The irony of this wasn’t lost on Edinburgh-based musician and songwriter Amy Duncan, who plays to a live and a livestream audience at the Voodoo Rooms in her home city tonight, to launch her album, Cocoon.

Amy sees this as something of a new start, 15 years into her career. “I’m not sure why, but I’ve always kept myself quite hidden,” she says. “Making music is easy for me, promoting it has always been the hard part. Ironically 2020 was due to be the year that I put myself out there. I got a live agent for the first time and had a tour booked.”

Then… Well we all know.

Rather than performing online, she threw herself into creating new music, and as a departure from the norm, found a comfortable new home dipping her musical toes into electronica. Cocoon is her eighth album since 2006 – she has been building a following in her own quiet way. Described by some as folk, her songwriting is expansive and is bounded by genre.

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With this under-the-radar approach, she’s been allowed space for experimentation. “During the time we were all staying at home I initially thought I would just make an EP – I don’t feel like myself if I’m not doing something musically creative. I always write about what’s going on around me at the time, so inevitably it would be about life during the lockdowns.”

Again, the songs look at that time in a more wide-reaching way. “We all have our own thoughts about how we’ll emerge from this. I can be the smallest things. I’m slightly nervous about the launch gig tonight, particularly because it’s also going to be live streamed. I’ve never done a gig where I’m playing to an audience but also being filmed. I’m as prepared as I possibly can be and I also have two great musicians with me onstage so I’m not up there totally alone.”

Tonight she’ll be joined by Guy Nicolson (Moishes Bagel) on percussion including Indian tablas and Pete Harvey (Modern Studies) on cello and bass.

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Amy (above) understands the need the need for a live stream, with some people still reluctant to come out to gigs. “It took me a while, but in the end I came out to see Thundercat at the Festival and then attended the SAY Awards. Everyone has to take things at their own pace.”

Music had always been part of Amy’s life. Her parents met we they were members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Her father is a conductor and violinist, and her mother played 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 be honest it wasn’t the right time for me and being the youngest person there, it was full-on.

“When I dropped out after a year, I was living in a shared flat in Glasgow and didn’t have my double bass, so I picked up a guitar that just happened to be in the flat. I started to learn, through playing things like Bob Dylan songs.

“After that I started to write but I didn’t really do anything with the songs.

To be honest I think I was just writing them to see if I could write.”

When Amy resumed her studies at the then RSAMD (now the RCS), she also joined a band as double bass player with Cora Bissett’s band, Swelling Meg.

“When I joined, I moved away from classical playing and started to experiment on double bass a little more. I knew then that I was moving away from the orchestral route; I found playing with the band so exciting.”

When Amy graduated she also became a mother to Finn, who is now 21 and a student at RCS on a traditional music course. He contributes some guitar playing to Cocoon.

“Swelling Meg split up when Cora decided to go down the theatrical route,” says Amy. “It was clearly the right decision for her, as we weren’t making any money. I think if we had had the resources like the internet, we might well have done something.”

Working with small labels has given Amy the space to develop her sound, and what she wants to say. “I felt I had to do it my own way. For me, writing about really personal stuff is a way of sorting things out in my head. I think a lot about why do I put myself out there in that way, but it’s because I need people to hear that.”

The tracks on Cocoon were arranged and recorded by multi-instrumentalist Amy at home. Finn contributed more than just his impressive fingerpicking style.

“I really value Finn’s opinion. He’s really straightforward – not rude, but you know what you’re 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 has made it much stronger.”

COCOON was mixed and mastered by Cameron Malcolm, who produced Paul Buchanan of The Blue Nile’s 2012 solo album Mid Air. Her previous three albums were produced by Cameron’s dad, Calum Malcolm (The Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout).

“I’ve really enjoyed the electronic element that’s come into this album, but I’d really like to work with someone where electronica is their thing. To collaborate with a proper electronic music producer and do something with a really full sound. Each time I release something, I like to have a bit of contrast.”

Following tonight’s album launch, there’s a small run of dates next spring including a Glasgow gig at The Hug & Pint on April 10.

“There are four dates so far next year,” she adds. “It’s been difficult to get dates now that everyone has been moving postponed dates, but hopefully we’ll get some more. I also need to have a proper think about the environmental side of touring, but I’m ready to make the start that 2020 brought to a halt.”

To check on ticket availability for tonight’s live event, search Eventbrite for Amy Duncan. To get a ticket for tonight’s livestream log on to

Cocoon is released this Friday, November 26, on Filly Records.