Night Thinker: The Amy Shark Interview

Australian singer and 2016 Triple J Hottest 100 surprise Amy Shark spent the eve of her debut EP release in L.A. dressed in her Dad’s oversized Adidas sweatshirt, feasting on burgers and beers.

Shark is a down-to-earth artist who plans on sticking around. When it came out, the Night Thinker EP went straight to #1 on iTunes. In 2017, she is right where she wants to be and recognises how hard she must work to stay – the sheer intensity of her dedication is inspiring, and when we spoke on the phone she shared her frank perspective on life, sharp humour and a hidden love for practical ankle socks.

For starters, Amy opened our interview. I was greeted with a beaming “Hi, how you doing?” Her energy radiated and I could sense her smile. It set the tone for the interview.

TGW: I’ve been really looking forward to talking with you. Given that you’ve had so much success lately and also just started a big tour. I had a quick creep on your Instagram while I was waiting to speak to you. You posted that there have now been over 10 million streams of ‘Adore’ (it has since clocked over 14 million streams and is certified 2 x platinum in Australia). How do you feel about that?
AS: Um… it’s pretty overwhelming to be honest because when I wrote it, it was quite innocent and I was just happy for Triple J to give it like one spin or something like that. So now it’s been played so many times by so many different people. I mean, I always wanted to have it as a career, so there’s a lot of things that come with it. I mean it’s not hard, I like talking about music and I like talking about the reasons behind it.

“They’re long days sometimes, but I never get frustrated and I don’t take it for granted.”

TGW: What was it like hosting Rage (iconic Australian music show)?

AS: Oh it was so much fun! Because I think a lot of us have grown up watching Rage, and loved watching music videos. I love a lot of film myself so I’ve always been obsessed with people’s music videos. Yeah, when I was invited to come and host it I was just super excited and I got to pick a lot of songs that I liked and got to really mix it up too. It was a really fun day.

TGW: What’s life really like after coming in at #2 on Triple J’s Hottest 100? Do you have your cornflakes with champagne these days? Can you walk around the Gold Coast without being bothered too much?

AS: I was in JB Hifi the other day and I had to sign CDs for a couple of guys that work there. But usually it’s fine. Unless I’m kitted up and ready to go on stage with a top knot and Adidas jacket, no one really bothers me. Life’s very normal at home, and I think if I lived in Sydney it might not be. Same as Melbourne, because there’s just so much promo and stations and everyone wants you while you’re there. But when I’m home on the Gold Coast it’s the same as every day. I just do my washing and get stuff done before I go away again to another city or go on tour. It’s really nice and that’s why I don’t think I could ever leave or move, because it’s so relaxing when I go home.

“Unless I’m kitted up and ready to go on stage with a top knot and Adidas jacket, no one really bothers me.”

TGW: Over popularity, how do you feel about being shortlisted for the Top 5 APRA Songwriter of the Year Award? 

AS: I didn’t see that one coming. That’s such an honour, to be in that category with the people that I’m there with. I think too because that award makes you known for your songwriting. It’s a real moment for me, because I’ve tried to work really hard on my songwriting over the years, without trying, you know, just being really honest in all my songs and not letting anything be really filtered. To know that people are liking it that much, that I’m now up for these awards is insane. To me it looks like the world is changing and people are really liking these different style songs, which is what I’m about. It’s awesome.

TGW: Yeah, I think it goes back to a sincere expression in your songs. You can’t actually, I mean people try all the time, but you can’t imitate sincerity. How are you feeling about the release of your Night Thinker EP?

AS: Oh that date couldn’t come soon enough for me. It’s definitely my best body of work that I’ve ever put together. It means a lot to me and the songs – you know, there’s no filler on this. I know it’s only six tracks anyway, but every song means so much to me and every song turned out bigger and better than what I ever imagined. I wrote these songs before Adore did what it did, so they’ve still got that real innocent, angsty passion behind the lyrics. I got to work with great Producers who put that gloss on it as well. They’re great songs, for me personally. I mean it might come out and people might hate it. But personally, I’m really proud of it and I’m really excited for people to hear the whole EP.

“There’s no filler on [the EP]. I know it’s only six tracks anyway, but every song means so much to me… I wrote these songs before ‘Adore’ did what it did, so they’ve still got that real innocent, angsty passion behind the lyrics. “

TGW: What was it like working with Dann Hume, knowing some of the talent he’s worked with in the past. Artists like Matt CorbyDaniel Johns and Courtney Barnett. Were you nervous about it? 

AS: I’m usually pretty easy going to get along with, but deep down I’m kind of nervous and awkward. Dann was so cool. He’s a Kiwi and I spent a lot of time in New Zealand, so we kind of hit it off straight away. He’d done his homework. He knew what kind of sounds I was interested in testing out. He’d listened to the demos, he read all my notes. It just made me feel really excited to get going. I love the way he works too. He’s very quick behind the desk.

TGW: I read this morning that you wrote the music for ‘Weekends’ about five years ago, but held off on adding lyrics at the time because you didn’t feel like you had anything good enough. Did you eventually have a particularly good creative spell where you just thought OK I’ve got it?

AS: That’s why I think I’m so addicted with songwriting, because every day is different and I don’t know when I’m going to come out with what. It’s always fun when I pick up my guitar. I think, what am I going to write today? There’s so much that’s in my subconscious that I don’t even know about.

I wrote ‘Weekends’ so long ago…that leading riff… I just randomly played it one day. I was actually really hungover and tired. It was a weird day and I just sort of came out with these lyrics. I got my phone quickly and I put it down. I was like I think this is good. I think it’s quite edgy. I was addicted to the melody that I had sung to this riff. I’d never been able to work out how I was going to sing to this guitar part ‘cos it was quite difficult. So when I nailed that, I was trying to sell it to A&R (artist and repertoire) and my Management saying “Look, listen to this demo, it’s pretty shitty but I think it’s gonna be a great song.” And a lot of them thought it wasn’t the best demo. And I was like “yeah, just try and see past it, because I can.” I’m just lucky I had a really great A&R guy, Stu MacQueen at Sony. He said, “This is gonna be a great song.” And I was like, “Yeah I think so too.” And now it’s out and it’s ‘Weekends’, so…

“It’s always fun when I pick up my guitar. I think, what am I going to write today?”

TGW: Which goes to show that sometimes hangovers can be productive.
AS: Oh course they can. All the more reason to drink!

TGW: When you’re thinking about leaving home for an extended period, what won’t you leave home without? 

AS: I always have a heap of t-shirts. I live in t-shirts and jeans, but I’ve found these new anklets, like I’ve just found these new walking shoes, which sounds so old lady. But, they’re just like – it’s so great not having shoelaces. So I’ve stocked up on these Bonds ankle socks and they’re just all through my suitcase wherever I go. It sounds so unfashionable but it’s sort of a staple at the moment for me. And obviously, a tonne of Adidas.

TGW: Has anything major changed in your life because of this new found success? 

AS: I go through phases where I think Geez I haven’t spoken to my Nan in a little bit and I get really worried, so I quickly call her. You know, I’m not home as much at the moment and it’s very different, but everyone’s been so understanding. My family is just so happy for me. So, I know they understand. Even one of my best mates is having her engagement party, and I’m going to have to miss it, but she’s fine about it. It’s little things like that, just right now I really need to concentrate and I want to be a sustainable artist in this industry. I really want to make sure that I cement myself so I can continue to make music that people are wanting to listen to. It’s still in that stage where I can’t really say no to much.

“Right now I really need to concentrate. I want to be a sustainable artist in this industry. It’s still in that stage where I can’t really say no to much.”

TGW: How was Tasmania?

AS: Oh it was awesome! Everyone there was so into it. Just so, so into it. Everyone kept saying to me, “people come here and they don’t come back, so promise me you’ll come back!” I was like of course I’ll come back. I’ll come back soon. It was a great place to kick off the tour.

TGW: Did you get to Mona?

AS: No! I didn’t have much time at all and it sucked.

TGW: You must go back. So after Groovin’ the Moo and touring with Milky Chance. I feel exhausted just looking a this…

AS: Same.

TGW: …how long will you have been on the road by the time you get to Darwin?

AS: I haven’t even looked at that, you know? Every day I just look at what I’ve got on in this iCalendar that they’ve set me up with and I take every day as it comes. I’ve got a really great management team that are just so on top of everything and they really do try and make my life as easy as possible with all this promo and touring, the shows… all the logistics that are kind of a punish for an artist – all that I did for myself before I signed to a label – I know how hard it is to get all this stuff making sense. I take each day as it comes and it looks like it’s gonna be just a massive couple of years, to be honest.

TGW: I feel really lucky to be asked to speak to you now because 2017 is going to be bloody epic for you. Good luck, you don’t need it.

Amy Shark will play an intimate acoustic performance at a Night Thinker Pop Up shop this Wednesday night in Melbourne.
The Night Thinker EP is available now.
TOUR DATES:

POP UP

  • Wed 26 April – Pop Up, Richmond

FESTIVALS

  • Fri 28 April – GTM, Oakbank
  • Sat 29 April – GTM, Maitland
  • Sun 30 April – GTM, Townsville
  • Sat 6 May – GTM, Bendigo
  • Sun 7 May – GTM Canberra
  • Sat 13 May – GTM, Bunbury
  • Sat 20 May – Bass In The Grass, Darwin

MILKY CHANCE – THE BLOSSOM TOUR

  • Tue 2 May – The Tivoli, Brisbane
  • Wed 3 May – Enmore Theatre, Sydney
  • Thur 4 May – Town Hall, Melbourne
  • Wed 10 May – Metro City, Perth *Solo Show

USA TOUR

  • Wed 31 May – Adelaide Hall, Toronto
  • Thurs 1 June – DC 9, Washington DC
  • Fri 2 June – Boot & Saddle, Philadelphia
  • Sun 4 June – 3rd & Lindsley, Nashville
  • Mon 5 June – Baby’s All Right, Brooklyn
  • Tues 6 June – Mercury Lounge, New York
  • Thurs 8 June – Great Scott, Boston
  • Mon 12 June – School Night @ Bardot, Los Angeles
  • Tue 13 June – Echo, Los Angeles
  • Fri 16 June – Popscene @ Rickshaw Stop
  • Sat 17 June – Doug Fir Lounge, Portland
  • Mon 19 June – Barboza, Seattle
  • Tues 20 June – Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver

Get Social:

  • Amy Shark website
  • Instagram: @amysharkmusic

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