Last year, Amy Shark was working as a video editor for an Australian rugby team. Her task was to create content, write lines, then film the — as she lovingly refers to them — "big dumb football players" reciting them. Today, she's a bona fide indie-pop star, with millions of followers on Spotify, a chart-topping EP, and a (largely) sold out international tour.
For the Australian-born singer-songwriter, the fame has been overwhelming — but well earned. Now 30, she's been playing guitar and making music since high school. Equally enthralled by film, she had enjoyed her day job with the Titans. But when her 2016 single "Adore" began shooting up the charts in Australia, it seemed like she might have a change of plans. The song — which was voted number two on Australian radio — is addicting. Nearing 20 million streams on Spotify, it's an edgy and elegant ballad about the intoxicating nature of love.
With the release of her six-track EP Night Thinker in April, she's proven there's much more where that came from. But while hers is a new name to many, it's one that the Titans have been fans of all along. When I ask if the rugby players she worked with are a part of her increasingly large fan club, I hear her chuckle. "Oh, yeah," she says. "I feel like they're calling every second."
Abby Haglage: Growing up, were you always musical?
Amy Shark: Actually, not really. I never sang at school because I went to school with girls who did the whole Mariah Carey sort of singing, and they had really great voices. I didn't class myself as a singer at all. I actually loved acting and film, but my grandparents told my brother and I we needed to learn an instrument and that if we picked it out, they would pay for it. So I chose guitar and then I just got so addicted to it. I would come home and play and play and play. I had a really great tutor, who would teach me songs that I wanted to learn, like Alanis Morissette's. I think just because he wasn't teaching me the boring old classical guitar, that's what got me hooked.
AH: Did you start singing pretty soon after that?
AS: No, it took me a while to sing. I was in bands and stuff, and I would just play guitar. Then one sort of girl band I was in, the singer wasn't really singing the melody the way that I had it in my head, so I was just giving her an example of how I would have sung it. And then she was like, "Hey, you're not shit. You could do more." So I was like Oh, OK . After that band broke up, I started dating this guy, and he was like, "You've got really strong songs, and I think you need to set up a mic on-stage." So he did that for me, and the rest is history.
AH: Wow. That's crazy. So how long ago was that?
AS: I've actually been doing it for a very long time! I'm 30, so I've been writing music and sort of dabbling in it, trying to make some little waves in my own little town, for a very long time. And it never really happened, but I feel like it was because I was kind of lazy. I didn't really travel to Sydney or Melbourne and go and work with great producers or anything. I did everything myself in friends' kitchens and bathrooms — recording shitty, rough acoustic demos. People were liking them. I'd play at parties, and it'd be all very rough and sort of trashy. And that's what I liked at that time. I wish I didn't waste so much time — but then again, I think everything's happening now because I've had more experiences, so what I'm writing about now is resonating with people.