“I’m blown away right now by where we are and what we’re doing. The Gold Coast is like the new LA at the moment – this is so epic.” Amy Shark
Amy Shark has been catapulted into the national spotlight. Her kind of success doesn’t happen by accident. She’s done the hard yards, played taverns and cover gigs and self-promoted her own songs and live shows for years. Since Adore came to the attention of record labels and managers, Amy’s life has changed dramatically, but as we’ve come to expect, she’s humble and grateful for where things are at.
“Yeah, I don’t think I can complain at all,” she told Blank Gold Coast, on the eve of taking out both Artist of the Year and Song of the Year at the Gold Coast Music Awards.
“I went from working fulltime in a pretty crazy job to playing cover gigs and learning covers and squeezing in writing my own songs and now I don’t have to do that. I can just spend time on my own stuff.”
Amy had just returned from the USA when we spoke – a trip she said was intense and filled with nothing but business.
“I’m still getting used to talking about myself so often, you feel like a bit of a dick, especially in America. They want you to talk yourself up and I’m not built like that.”
“Promo’s a lot of fun because I’m just myself – I can’t imagine being one of those people who have to try to be someone else – it would be exhausting.”
“But everyone was so on board and I keep reminding myself how lucky I am to have an American record label backing me,” she said.
Adore was certified double platinum just as Amy’s new single Weekends and EP Night Thinker hit the shelves. Straight from the Gold Coast Music Awards, Amy was off to tour with Groovin’ The Moo including a surprise main stage set when Tash Sultana was ill and she was recently announced on the Splendour in the Grass bill as well. Does it all feel just a little bit surreal?
“Yeah, it does,” Amy laughs. “There’s certain moments where I’m like, woah, this is a lot bigger than I could have anticipated, and you can’t prepare yourself for it.”
“Even when I talk to other artists – everyone’s different, everyone goes through things differently. I’ve got Shane (husband) and he’s the biggest support network for me to keep me grounded. I think that’s important.”
Amy says scheduling down time is also important and her management team are “insane” with the whole iCal situation.
“We see moments in the schedule where it’s like hey I should sleep then, or ‘I should call my parents’. Remembering to eat. There’s a scheduled time for every bit of movement for me at the moment.”
“Where there’s a free hour – I might go for a walk or check out what’s around. Every spare hour is crucial for me to soak it up,” Amy said.
On the back of Adore’s success, Amy embarked on a sold-out tour of Australia including a hometown show at elsewhere. I was in the crowd and remember being surprised at the number of people who were singing along to Amy’s back catalogue.
“Especially Spits on Girls, it really shocked me,” Amy said. “There’s a lot of oooohs, big sing-alongs. I’ve never stopped singing and let the crowd do it before then.”
“It didn’t even feel like a gig. It felt like a party – it felt like my house where I had a shit tonne of people around who were so supportive and everywhere I looked everyone was smiling and singing every word.”
“I was so pumped up. I always am, but this one was different – especially elsewhere. I’ve hung out there my whole life. Every artist loves selling out a room and playing to a home crowd. It was really special to me,” Amy said.
“I preach about the Gold Coast everywhere I go,” she said. “It’s not like it’s a secret where I live. I’m proud of my hometown.”
Amy received a similar welcome in New Zealand, after having convinced herself not to get excited about touring to a place where she didn’t really have a following.
“I only just started getting played over there and been really spoiled with the Australian tour. But everyone was singing Spits on Girls and Golden Fleece and even Middle of the Night.”
Amy and I reflect on the fact that her fan base was probably bigger than she knew and that a national tour was exactly what those fans were waiting for.
“It’s like there are secret crowds gathering,” she laughed. “I feel like we have this little army building – and everyone that comes to the show is really invested in everything.”
“It’s crazy how many people say ‘you know I’ve followed you for so long and I’m so happy this is happening for you’. I’ve been that person – I’ve watched people grow and met them at the merch desk. And now I get that back now.”
“You never think you’re going to hit that stage when you’re on struggle street.”
When you listen to Amy’s new EP Night Thinker, struggle street is the furthest thing from your mind. It’s her best work by far and fans – new and old – are in for a treat.
“A lot of bits and pieces of the EP were in motion before Adore and some songs were written right after,” Amy explained.
“I already had fantastic rough demos in place from being in Brad’s (Hosking) studio at Blind Boy and had done a lot of the work already. I was on a writing binge.”
“Drive You Mad is my favourite song I’ve ever written in my life, it’s so honest. It’s the first time I looked at myself and really thought hey, I’m not the easiest friend to have and not an easy person to love.”
“It was a real moment I sat back and looked at myself in the mirror and thought – maybe I could be the villain: a moment of honesty.”
“And the rest is an epic drama series of events that have happened over the past ten years. I have cherry picked the moments that stick in my mind.”
I’m very emotionally invested in every song.
Night Thinker went straight to #1 on the iTunes charts and debuted at #2 on the ARIA Charts. But things don’t slow down for Amy just yet.
“I’ve got this run of festivals, the Milky Chance support and then I’m back in the States and I’m quietly packing myself about that.”
“That’s a big market and I played a couple of college radio stations. These are cool kids – they know their shit. They’re hectic taste makers in LA and New York. I feel like I’m playing with the big boys now.”
And on her double-win at the Gold Coast Music Awards? What does Amy have to say about that?
“Gold Coast has just championed me the whole way and I couldn’t do it without you guys. It’s a tough slog and the main thing I want to say is that if you’re on struggle street as a musician and you feel like you’re getting nowhere, that’s the story of my life.”
“I’ve worked really hard but I’ve also had some key people who’ve helped me to where I am right now.”
“Gold Coast is home and this is awesome.”
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Amy Shark’s new EP Night Thinker is available everywhere. And her largest headline tour to date has just been announced with tickets on sale 4 May. Amy will hit Miami Marketta on Thursday 24 August.