It was one of those nights when you feel like only Spotify can understand your full range of emotions. As I was scrolling through the songs carefully selected for me by the wildly popular app, I ended up listening to a song by a certain Amy Shark, captivated by the purity of her voice and the raw and honest lyrics she was singing about.

 

Little did I know back then that the artist’s life had suddenly changed, thanks to the popularity of her single Adore. Having scored a regional arts grant, Shark recorded the track with Grammy-winning, LA-based producer M-Phazes (an artist from the same hometown in Australia as Shark), giving one last chance to her career has she was about to kiss all her hopes for fame goodbye. When Adore hit the airwaves, Shark – unsigned, unrepresented, and holding a vast stash of original songs – became the subject of a global record label bidding war. Wonderlick Entertainment, via Sony Music Australia, won and readied itself to re-release her single. Shark engaged a management team, and Adore went viral, garnering her a series of music awards.

 

With her first album Love Monster freshly released on July 13th, we took the occasion to chat with the singer about dreams, success, and how it’s ok to do things on your own terms.

 

 

What was it like growing up on the Gold Coast? Did you always know that you wanted to be a musician?

Growing up there was very relaxing. It’s a tiny beach town, and I was living close to the water, and it was very chill, very peaceful. I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a musician. I was actually more interested in acting and did a lot of theater. And it wasn’t before halfway through high school that I learned guitar and just became obsessed with doing and writing music. But even there, I didn’t think I was going to be a musician. It wasn’t my plan at all.

Do you feel like your life has changed a lot since the release of Adore?

100%! My life is so different now (laughs). I never knew that one song could change a life so dramatically. Like ever. Especially considering I’ve given up on doing anything with music professionally, it totally took me by surprise. My life is the opposite of what it was before and is probably changed forever.

Do you think that young musicians sometimes feel the pressure of reaching success instantly, at any cost?

It’s a tricky one, that question, because, yeah, they are a lot of very young artists like 14 or 15 years old creating very great music and playing on Triple G, which is the number one station in Australia, mostly focused on upcoming musicians. If your song does well, it can sort of just teleport you into this crazy universe of music with travels and big shows, and it’s a lot to digest. Sometimes, kids have what it takes to go through that and do fine, but I think a lot of them end up suffering from pressure. As a kid growing, you have to be pretty mentally strong to get through all of this. It’s a lot of high demands, and you are awake a lot and have to think a lot. But, saying all this, there is a reason why these kids are writing these songs and it’s mostly because they want to express what they feel and be as honest as possible with the world, which is awesome.

What are the crappiest things other labels have asked you to change about yourself or your music?

I feel pretty lucky because I never got asked to change a lot about myself. They mostly gave me advice about how to improve my writing or promote myself. But when it comes to my music or how I look or how I speak, I already had such a clear vision of who I was as a person that there was very little to add. I have so much to offer, and, luckily enough, I got a good team right from the start who likes what I am doing. I really didn’t have to do anything crappy… just yet (laugh). But I speak out a lot, so I don’t think I will ever agree to do something that doesn’t feel natural to myself. So, I think I’m safe.

What is your biggest challenge regarding your new success as a musician?

The biggest challenge right now is just for people to understand that my life is not the same anymore. I am missing a lot of birthdays and weddings and just important milestones that I kind of wish I was at, but you have to remember that I’ve been trying to do this for a long time. I need to be true to myself and give myself these chances, and, also, which is the most important part, remind myself that everyone actually understands. I am the only one who is beating myself up over missing my family and missing my friends, which is, you know, normal, but I know that I just have to work really hard right now and the real friends will be there when I get back.

Can you only write about stuff that you’ve experienced yourself?

Yes. Everything I write is pretty much autobiographical. I can’t get deep into something or write about it if it hasn’t impacted me personally. Whether it’s good or bad, it has to happened to me.

Do you journal to help you when writing down lyrics?

I don’t journal because I wrote diaries when I was in high school, and my mom read it, and I’ll never write anything down ever again. So, no I don’t, but every now and then I’ll think of lyrics and I’ll try to write them on the notes section of my phone to make sure I’ll remember them, but that is the closest I’ll come to doing it.

Do you think you can be a real musician without being vulnerable and open?

(Pause) Hm, yeah. Not the musician I’ll probably be interested in listening to, but I definitely think there is a market for it. People out there who listen to some pretty vanilla stuff. You know, there is a lot of pop music and stuff that people love. I know people, like my friends are saying stuff like, “I just want to listen to music, I don’t care about lyrics,” and that’s fine, but it’s weird for me because I listen to every lyric so intensely. That is what I love about music and the artists I listen to. But yeah, there is definitely a market for people who don’t want to be as vulnerable as I am with music.

What have been your favorite moments on tour so far?

I’m really enjoying just being with the guys from my band and my husband travels with me too, so there is a lot, like playing Xbox in the van, and a lot of laid-back moments. It’s just very cool to have people that I’ve known for so long travelling around the world with me. I think just meeting so many new fans that I never knew I had and playing a very big show in Toronto and learning that the venue had to be upgraded because they sold way more tickets than expected, it just totally blew my mind. It was a real eye-opener.

Do you picture the people who will listen to your songs when you compose them?

I try to not to. Composing music has always been for me first as a therapy session, and I like listening to my own music. I like to be in control of that; that is what the rush of doing it is all about.

Do you think people are trying too hard to define the type of music you are doing instead of simply feeling it?

It depends who you talk to. It depends what sort of journalist or review you get in front of you. There are people that really dig deep into it and want to categorize it and put it where they think it belongs. But there are people who don’t even care what sort of genre it is. They just listen to the lyrics and it takes them back to a certain place and they just embrace all their feelings. There are so many different people that come to my shows and end up creating such as special dynamic. There are people who watch technically how I play guitar or [if I am] tight enough with the band. At the end, everyone is listening to my music for different reasons and I like them all.

 

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About The Author

Marie-Ève Venne
Lifestyle Director

Marie-Ève is a little person who still secretly wishes she were one of the Olsens twins. You can catch her running from event to event, a coffee bigger than her face in one hand and her cell phone glued to the other. At Dress To Kill, she is the one writing about the newest musician you need to discover and that trendy boutique that just opened.

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