Amy Shark, singer/songwriter
I think because 'Adore' has that guitar at the start, when it started, it just has such a distinct sound … and I couldn’t even pop the champagne, I just fell to the ground and balled my eyes out ...
By now, you’d be familiar with the name Amy Shark. The Gold Coast-based former filmmaker has catapulted into the spotlight in spectacular fashion with her unbelievably well-received EP, ‘Adore’. We joined millions who tuned into Triple J’s Hottest 100 recently with sweaty palms in anticipation of where Amy Shark’s from-the-heart hit would sit in the the Australia Day countdown – much to our delight, and to Amy’s surprise, ‘Adore’ nabbed the number two spot just behind Flume. Despite being on a crazy ride to stardom, Amy remains herself – a passionate, grounded, down-to-earth human who wears her heart on her sleeve. With a nearly sold-out tour due to begin in March, we caught up with Amy to chat hotel beds, punk songs, and the exact moment she heard her song in the Hottest 100.
Firstly, a huge congratulations. What an achievement to have ‘Adore’ at number two on the Triple J Hottest 100. How are you feeling?
I’m a little bit dusty still! It hasn’t quite sunk in just yet.
Tell us, where were you when the Hottest 100 was happening? What was the moment like when you heard ‘Adore’ play?
I had to go to a music industry event earlier in the day, I raced home and made it just in time for the top 20, and I was like … oh my god, am I going to make it? And then it got to 10, and Shane, who has managed me this whole time, he’s my husband, he just started crying. One of my closest friends Joe was there and that set him off and he was crying. Then I got on the phone to another friend and I was like … you’ve got to get over here now, I think I might be in the top ten, I’m not sure. Anyway I had like a bottle of champagne ready to go, and they played Tash Sultana and I was like, ‘oh my god’, my heart was just like racing. I think because Adore has that guitar at the start, so when it started, it just had such a distinct sound … and I couldn’t even pop the champagne, I just fell to the ground and balled my eyes out like a little bitch! I can’t explain it, it was just such an amazing moment. I think just all the songs I have written in the past, and all the work that my team had put it, it all just got to us. We’re not crying people, like, I don’t cry, and it just all came out. It was incredible.
In the lead up to the Hottest 100, you were being compared to the likes of Flume (who tweeted you too!) What was that build up like?
I would have been happy just with that tweet. I was like – did Flume just tweet at me? Did that actually just happen? I thought, it’s got to be a fake account, but I kind of didn’t really enjoy that pressure that was happening. Because, in my head, I as like well I am nowhere near it. Some dude with a lot of money from probably Qatar has probably put like $1000 dollars on me that’s why I am going so well, it’s not because of votes, it just can’t be! *laughs* Because I don’t have the fan base, all these people like Flume have such a big fan base – I am just starting out. So, I kept very, very grounded and I am so happy, no matter what people were saying to me, I was just so happy to come in there at all. There was definitely a lot of pressure. I have got a lot of friends and family that don’t understand the 100, and all week they’re like “I hope you win” and it’s like, well, no. It’s not about winning, I just want to be in it. Then I was like, if I don’t come where all these magazines are saying I will, then people are going to be thinking like ‘ohh she thought she wanted to be higher’ and I was like … no. It was a disaster, so I was just trying to shut off to everything, and reading anything and not buying into anything. It honestly was the biggest shock in my life because I had it in my head that I was not going to be up that far.
What is it about ‘Adore’ do you think makes it so relatable as a song?
I never really go out to write a hit. I am only very new at this. I was never like ‘oh yeah I am going to write a hit today’, and although it (Adore) only took me about ten minutes to write, a lot of the songs that I like and that I class as ‘good’ don’t take me that long. If I push something, I just end up going like – nup, it’s not coming out I am going to let that go. That’s what happened with Adore, I was actually playing a totally different guitar part and then I just gave up, this isn’t coming out, and then I wrote the guitar for Adore and the words just came out. That’s just how I was feeling. Everything is very autobiographical for me. I don’t know if people are missing that, or what? There is a lot of watered-down shit on the radio and I remember recording it (Adore) and I just wanted such a great performance and I wanted it to be an emotionally driven song so I think that came across. I guess people just needed that. They needed that reminder that it’s ok to put your heart on your sleeve and there’s a lot of girls out there that are all like ‘girl power’ and ‘girl boss’ and I think I am more like – look, if you love someone, just say it, I don’t care. And I hope girls can hear the song and go ‘yeah’. I am getting so many amazing messages and on social media. I think it’s really hit a nerve for people, which is crazy, it wasn’t meant to, it was just like another song, like all my songs, it was just about a time that was special for me. But it was obviously special for everyone.
Your new tour has been announced, and we’re pumped to see you here on the Gold Coast in March! How are you balancing everything at the moment?
It’s been really good, I’ve got really great managers. I have been really enjoying it and yeah it’s tiring and there is a lot of travel and obviously I haven’t been doing this for years so it’s a really different life for me. I am still really enjoying it, like, I really like hotel beds. I am really enjoying that part. I’m sure it might change! I was on tour with other bands and I was the support for them, so I am really looking forward to having my own show now, it’ll be fun. I’m really, really looking forward to coming to the Gold Coast.
You were working full time with the Gold Coast Titans – is that still happening or is music paying the bills now?
Yeah I had to give that away toward the end of last year. It was funny because I wasn’t even pushing my music … I loved my job and I really enjoyed making videos and editing and things like that. I was fine in life! So, it just goes to show that what was meant to be will be and I was obviously meant to get somewhere eventually in this crazy industry. I miss all my work friends, but they’re so happy for me.
It seems like you rarely get a day off – so, when you do, where would we find you?
Um, probably just around my house in Broadbeach or at a cafe. I absolutely love the Gold Coast. There are so many people asking when am I going to move to Melbourne or Sydney, and I just don’t see the point anymore, because I’ll be travelling heaps and everything goes via Dropbox now so there’s no need to uproot my life to be a in city that is too fast-paced for me anyway. I just really love it on the ‘GC’, and it’s so great when I fly home. It’s a really great feeling.
How have you seen the industry change over the years?
Music has changed so much over the years. You’re allowed to do so much more and it’s sort of like there’s no rules. I like to write like there’s no rules, and that’s why Adore did what it did – because there was no rules. Same with my other songs, like ‘Golden Fleece’ doesn’t even have a chorus and it won the Queensland Music Award for Best Pop… like, best pop? A song with no chorus was not heard of, and I just think like as long as you’re doing music for the right reasons and your songs have a bit of a feel to them, then it’ll be alright.
What did you listen to growing up?
I went through a massive punk stage. I was all about New Found Glory, all the pop-punk stuff, Blink 182, Pennywise and all that sort of trashy stuff. I moved into listening to so much more, I listen to Missy Higgins and a lot of alternative stuff, I listen to everything now. I just like a good song, really.
If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Amy Winehouse. I listen to her a lot.
What’s next for Amy Shark after the tour?
Probably more shows. I have this icalendar that I am learning to use now! That is getting so chockas just flying to different places and there are more and more shows being added, and a couple of festivals, so it’s looking pretty full on after the tour. But I mainly want to get some new music out, that’s what I like to do … I could be in a studio 24-7 just writing music really.
Can we expect any new material soon?
I actually have a lot of songs, when my managers met me they were like – okay, you’ve got a lot of demos, it’s crazy. So, I think I have enough up my sleeve to get me by for like the next five years! I definitely don’t stop. When I am in hotel rooms, I always have a my guitar on me, and I am always writing ideas and it’s sort of like an addiction. It’s like when people go outside for a cigarette, I’ll just pick up a guitar and it’s something that I can’t just stop.