NEW YORK CITY: After the success of her single Adore – a raw and bleeding love anthem – Australian singer-songwriter Amy Shark was on a jet-plane to New York at the behest of Republic Records. Six months later, in January 2017, she was signed to Sony imprint Wonderlick Entertainment and her existence changed for good as Shark proclaimed the contemplative, emotional lyricism of Lorde, Lana Del Rey or an Antonoff-skewed Taylor Swift. Adore reached Number 2 on the inaugural Triple J’s Hottest 100, eclipsed only by Flume’s Never Be Like You and producer Jack Antonoff would go on to later co-write Shark’s Lena Dunham-endorsed track All Loved Up. In New York tonight, Shark is still bemused at her own success as evident by her uniform; white t-shirt, skinny jeans, the half-up-half-down topknot (which, unlike Amy Winehouse’s beehive, hasn’t grown in diameter with her rising star). In fact, the only difference in Shark’s appearance since stamping herself as Australia’s next big export is a lick of emerald green eyeliner.
“This is incredible and I never thought I’d get here but this isn’t where it starts,” Shark tells a sell-out crowd at New York’s palatial Irving Plaza, her Australian accent strong.
“You don’t just all of a sudden become a musician and get to play to this many people in a beautiful venue in New York City.”
“It starts in a really scary place and for me, it started in my bedroom. And I knew from the second I picked up a guitar that I was going to be that kind of artist who wrote really heavy personal songs. It was just destined to be, it was how I rolled.”
The result was lovelorn tales of unrequited love or songs about toxic friends who got in the way of something good. So many layers came out of that bedroom on the Gold Coast, a place in Australia known more for its schoolies antics than its musical output. “My album Love Monster is a record with a big balance of good and evil and that’s real life, that’s how I ride,” Shark says to sporadic cheers. “I’m not really scared to write about the ugly stuff as well. You can’t always play the good guy, you know. If you really dive into this album, you’re going to hear songs that don’t really paint me in the best light and that was really important to me, to make sure I write about every aspect. What you’re hearing is really honest stuff is my life, I’ll write about it forever.”
Jolting about the stage – and with that wintry, breathy Julia Stone-esque husk she was known for before her major label signing – Shark, in her indie mannerisms, mesmerises her US audience from beginning to her hit track I Said Hi. “I lay half awake thinking what’s it’s gonna take for my moment to arrive/ I’m sick and paralysed,” Shark’s lyrics ring out. True or not, to Australians, this city is the toughest and most important field of play there is. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, they say. And Shark’s future – along with the topknot – are brighter than the chandeliers above.
Here, we go inside her New York show where said moment has well and truly arrived.