In January, Gold Coast-born singer-songwriter Amy Shark had only recently quit her job as a video editor to return to music after a long, soul-destroying effort to “make it”.
“I just stopped for a while because I was just tired,” Shark tells The New Daily. “I was exhausted from trying and not seeing ripples anywhere … I put in so much money over the years.”
Enter Adore, Shark’s somewhat pained, unadorned, guitar-heavy single that’s an ode to the addictiveness of first love.
Flash forward only a few months and Shark, whose real name is Amy Billings, is flying business class to New York City, performing sold-out rooftop shows and releasing her six-track EP Night Thinker (out on Friday).
Her second single, the equally infectious Weekends, is also a radio regular.
A lot of that has to do with radio station triple j’s annual Hottest 100 countdown – a user-voted list of the year’s best songs.
Adore‘s swift rise up the charts in the weeks leading up to the countdown saw Shark tipped as a last-minute favourite to crack the top 10, but she remained doubtful.
Still, on Australia Day she gathered a small group of friends to nervously listen to the annual radio broadcast. But when the countdown passed the halfway mark, she became disheartened.
“For some reason I put in my head that you got contacted if you were in the top 10,” she recalls.
“I hadn’t heard anything and I knew other artists getting calls from triple j that day and I wasn’t one of them. Not that I thought I was going to be anywhere near it but I thought I’d missed it completely.”
Her husband and management team still had faith.
“They were like, ‘You’re in, you’re just up really high’. When I heard Tash [Sultana] at No.3, I just started feeling sick.”
Unsurprisingly to everyone but Shark, Adore claimed the second spot – a testament to its earwormy guitar riffs and honest, relatable lyrics.
“I’m not a crier but I was a mess,” Shark says of the big moment. “Everyone was bawling.”
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The down-to-earth 30-year-old, who favours Adidas tracksuits and no makeup over high heels and glitz, is hesitant to admit she wrote Adore in 10 minutes.
“I hope people don’t think I sound like a douche saying that,” she laughs. “It was just really easy.”
She also refuses to reveal whether or not Adore is about her husband Shane and says only he knows the truth.
The majority of Shark’s songs, she says, draw on her own personal experiences – and she has a wealth of material.
She mysteriously alludes to one “major event” that’s given her plenty to think and write about.
“I have a big story that no one will probably ever know,” she says solemnly.
“I probably have 300 songs just in this big thing that happened in a group of friends I had. I’ve been through heaps and seen a lot and now I’m able to digest it all and put it down.”
And, according to Shark, we ain’t seen nothing yet. While she’s proud of Adore, the singer-songwriter says another track off her EP eclipses her breakout single entirely.
“My favourite is Drive You Mad,” she reveals. “I’ll say it – it’s the best song I’ve ever written.”
Clearly this Gold Coast girl is just warming up.