Amy Shark Exclusive Interview
A month ago I wasn't even planning on attending this show. It was on the radar, but I didn't think that I could get into this show through SA. Fast forward to the Day Wave concert when I met Johnny (Sony Music), and then fast forward another week, and not only did we both get passes for the show, but he also helped secure this interview with Amy Shark on June 17 at Doug Fir. Thank you to Johnny, Adam, and Sony Music for helping get this set up!
Amy Billings, who goes by Amy Shark (more on that later), had never been to Portland before June 17. Hailing from Gold Coast, Queensland, she gushed on and on about Portland. "It's beautiful. It's actually stunning. It's so green and lush and everyone is so chill. I'm from a beach town, so when I find a city like this, it suits me very well." This is usually how most of us would have described Portland after our first couple hours here, is it not?
For Amy, success did not come at an early age. Her interest in music did, however. She told me; "I was always listening to music when I was younger. I couldn't walk down to get milk and bread without my 'discy' (I'm assuming slang for Walkman)." Amy has been playing guitar for a long time, and was part of a band in her 20's. One day, she made a suggestion on the lyrics for a song, and the band realized that she had some skill on vocals. She slowly started playing songs in the band as the lead singer, although she said; "We were rubbish." After leaving the band, Amy's husband started to book her solo gigs; "I got the rush I needed, and from then on I thought 'Man, it would be cool to do this for a living." It has not been an easy or quick journey for Amy, but following the success of 'Adore' (#2 on Triple J Hot 100) and her EP Night Thinker, it's clear that the scrupulous work of Amy and her team has helped provide her a major shot at success.
A little earlier in the day, Amy was downtown playing an intimate show at the Skype Live Lounge, and then did some radio promo as well. She's had a crazy year, which seems to be a common theme among people in the music industry. Amy was just announced as an opener for Sia's World Tour when it stops for a couple shows in Australia; "My manager said; 'This is a big one - you're going to want to sit down for this. Sia wants to know if there's an expression of interest to open in Australia - Is this something you'd be interested in?' I remember thinking 'No, I'm busy then. Of course I'm interested. I don't care if it was my wedding day, I'd move it."
The future for Amy includes some time off back in Australia as she works on her debut album. According to Amy; "I'm going back home to record the album - it's already written, and hopefully will be ready for early next year." She has a bunch of festivals back home and then more touring in the future in support of Night Thinker.
In conclusion - the story you've all been waiting for. The name behind Amy Billings selecting 'Amy Shark' as her stage name. It comes down to this - "I'm addicted to sharks." Not really as exciting as you may have been hoping for. But, this is the kind of stuff I'm interested in. Let's dig deeper into her 'Shark' background; "I watched Jaws really early on in my life - I loved the movie and Jaws 2, Jaws 3, Jaws Revenge, Jaws Deep Blue Sea, I've got all the documentaries. I've got all the books. Shark Week at my house - no one is allowed inside. It's just me." For those of you chasing your dreams, don't forget to ignore the influences from childhood and beyond.
Amy's rise is proof that not everyone in the music industry comes up the same way. She didn't have a record deal at 16 years old, so she isn't a "bratty little shit" (her words, not mine) like some in the industry are. Her maturity and the places she draws on for songwriting inspiration are fresh, honest, and a breath of fresh air. Australia has been crushing it recently in terms of bands putting out music, and Amy may just be one of the best coming from down under.
Amy Shark Interview - Doug Fir - 6/17
Pics by Hans Felten