From Mark Hoppus Sliding Into Her DMs To Post Malone Blasting In-Studio: Everything That Inspired Amy Shark’s Debut AlbumWritten by Sally McMullen on July 13, 2018
The world first fell in love with Amy Shark when she dropped ‘Adore’ in 2016, but she’s no one-hit-wonder. Since then, her debut banger has surpassed 60 million streams and the indie-pop songstress bewitched lovers of easy listening with her 2017 EP ‘Night Thinker’. As well as touring the world, she has been hard at work creating her first full-length album Love Monster ever since.
A mixed bag of songs she’s had stashed for years and sonic gems from newfound collaborations, the 14-track record perfectly encapsulates everything we love about Amy Shark without being predictable. You can hear this as the album varies from clap-back track ‘I Said Hi’ to laments of lost love on ‘Middle Of The Night’.
While Amy has previously preferred to work solo, she collaborated with a bunch of musical big wigs on Love Monster. She lived out her punk-pop dreams while working with Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus on ‘Psycho’, crafted crooners like ‘Loved Up’ with Jack Antonoff and produced the entire album with Dann Hume (Troye Sivan, Matt Corby, Client Liaison).
The album drops today, but you’ll have plenty of the opportunities to absorb it beyond your headphones in the coming months. Amy is treating fans to an acoustic, intimate set for MTV Unplugged Melbourne on 26 July and kicking off her 7-date Love Monster national tour at the end of August. You might have even already caught her singing a few tunes at a little known event called State of Origin this week.
Ahead of the release of Love Monster, we had a chat with Amy about the new record, collaborating with the big dogs and what you can expect if you catch her on tour.
Music Feeds: Congratulations on your debut record Love Monster! What’s it like in the calm before the storm ahead of the release?
Amy Shark: Well, I don’t think it is very calm (laughs). It’s all pretty hectic and I’ve spent a lot of time talking about it. But it feels great and I love talking about this album, because it’s my life so I can talk about it until I die. I’m sort of nervous and anxious and I don’t think I’ll feel properly normal until it’s finally out. But I think it’s going to be a really good feeling once it’s released.
MF: The last few years have been a whirlwind for you since the success of Night Thinker. Have you stockpiled a bunch of these songs over the years or did you write them fresh for the new record?
AS: A bit of everything! There’s a handful of songs that had been around for six years and to be able to perfect them in a studio with someone like Dann Hume is a dream. I already loved those songs and thought they were worthy of people to listen to. So to take them to these incredible producers was just a real treat. I guess just what happened with Night Thinker, people seem to connect and I was on a high. So I just started to write a big chunk of the album straight after I finished Night Thinker because I was just feeling it.
But there were also some that came towards the very end. I had pretty much wrapped up the album and had one day left with Dann Hume and the night before I came in that’s when I wrote ‘I Said Hi’. So we had to spend the whole last day doing that. Dann was getting ready to polish off other songs and fix them up and I was like “No, we’ve got a new song to do today!” and he was like “Shit!” (laughs). Then I had a week where I had two days with Jack Antonoff and two days with Joel Little and then Mark Hoppus. With Jack, we had a whole new song in a day there but I’d borrowed lyrics that I had in my back pocket for years as well. It’s such a diverse and crazy album for me to listen to. These are songs that have been in my life for so long.
MF: You mentioned a few of the collabs already, but what was it like writing and producing songs with other people rather than working solo?
AS: Everything that Dann did, I’d already prepared. So we’d sit there building beats and production and just jam. Then with Jack, it was my first experience where I couldn’t take a song in. He just wanted to build something from scratch. I don’t think I slept a wink that night. I was so stressed! I was like “Oh my god, I have all of these songs” but it’s just not how he works. So it was really great getting out of my comfort zone.
The beauty with starting from scratch is playing with keys and putting in the beat. I remember I went out and got a coffee and came back in and heard this really beautiful, dreamy sound that he had going. So I just started coming out with stuff and I felt a little awkward and because he’s such a pro, he just picked up on that and was like “Hey, I’m going to take a call and I’ll put this on repeat for you and I’ll be back”. That was really great because I could just sit there and let it happen and then he’d come back in and be like “What have you got?”. And I’d say a line and he’d say “What about this?” and just say a line that’s insanely perfect and that’s how it happened. The more we got through the song, we’d would just listen and get excited together and it was a really awesome experience.
And with Mark, I had ‘Psycho’ for so long and it was on my phone finished, but there was just something missing but I didn’t know what it was until I met up with Mark. I sent it to him and he loved it and when we were in the studio, I kinda kept pushing how far I could go with him. Whether he could play bass on it and whether he’d want to sing on it and then he asked “Are you happy if I write my verse?” and I was just like “Dude, I’m not saying no to Mark Hoppus” (laughs). It’s such a big deal. So he wrote his verse and it’s amazing and works with the song.
So I got to be very involved lyrically throughout the whole record. There’s not one song that I really stepped back from. But to be able to build the tracks with someone, it was a rush, man.
MF: That sounds amazing but intense! I can imagine being asked to write a song with nothing prepared would put the pressure on.
AS: Oh, man. Welcome to my life! (laughs). Even my managers were like “Don’t stress! Don’t think you need to come out with a really good song. Just go in and enjoy it!” and I was like “Fuck that, man! We want a good song!”. These guys are a big deal and I put the pressure on myself that I wanted to come out of it with a song I loved. So it was really, really nerve-wracking. At the end of the day, I understand why Jack Antonoff is Jack Antonoff and why Joel Little is Joel Little. They had a way of drawing out the artistry very quickly and so easily and that’s why you get good results.
MF: Yeah and it sounds like the result was something you could’ve never predicted because like you said, it was a result of being out of your comfort zone.
AS: Oh, totally! Even with ‘Loved Up’ that I did with Jack, he’s like “Oh, do you think you can sing that in falsetto?” and I’m like “Dude, I don’t sing falsetto. I never have! I don’t think I can do that!” and he was just like “Yeah, you can!”. And then we started doing it and it sounded so dreamy and just like something I’ve never done before. So they just know!
MF: You mentioned your collaboration with Mark Hoppus on ‘Psycho’. I know you’re a huge Blink-182 fan, so how did that happen and what was that like?
AS: Yeah, honestly I think until the day I die, when his verse comes in I’ll just break into this big, dirty grin because I just love it. I just can’t believe that I did it. It’s just such a big moment for me. I have a song with one of my absolute heroes in punk!
So he actually just dropped into my Twitter messages and said “Hey, I’m a big fan. We have some friends in common and we should have a coffee next time you’re in LA.” And it just so happened I was three days out from being in LA. So I locked that in very, very quickly (laughs). I met him at this really bougie café in LA and I just felt so out of place and we just got along so well. He’s just such a fan of music in general. He could just talk about music all day and different bands and different artists and artists in Australia. He’s a big Violent Soho fan, so we were talking about the Soho guys. So he was just asking where was I at with the new record and was really interested and wanted to be involved. And of course I said I would love for him to be involved.
Then he just kinda organised it from that day and within two days we were in Dave Grohl’s private studio. I had sent him ‘Psycho’ the night I met him for coffee and he wrote back straight away saying the song is incredible and that he really loved it. So from there, the rest is history.
MF: I love that he reached out to you! As a fan, that must’ve been so flattering and surreal.
AS: Yeah! It wasn’t through everyone else or through a label and it was just so natural. It was an awesome experience. I’m not going to lie, I have a real soft spot for that song. I love all of my songs but that song is special.
MF: You can hear a lot of different influences on the album, but I heard that you were quite inspired by Post Malone when creating Love Monster?
AS: Yeah, I went through a very trappy phase (laughs). I really like people that are quite consistent. When I listen to ‘Stoney’ like ‘No Option’ has that guitar ride and there’s so many songs that keep that balance of acoustic and beat and that’s what I love. His phrasing and everything about him is just so smooth and cruisey and effortless.
I also love that he followed it up with Beerbongs & Bentleys and there are so many bangers on it. So I just love consistency. There are so many bands and artists that I listen to but it’s like I’m not going to download the whole album because there’s only one song that I like. I think that’s why I was so obsessed with Blink because I just connect with every song and every album that these guys put out.
So yeah, I have a massive Postey addiction. Especially on a song called ‘Don’t Turn Around’. That song was verging Ed Sheeran acoustic. It was really acoustic and storytell-y and Dann and I were driving to the studio and everyday we were just blasting Post Malone and Cardi B and then we just tipped that song on its head and I was really happy with it.
MF: You’re also about to kick off a massive Australian tour, are there any songs you’re particularly excited to perform live and share with the fans?
AS: I think I’m really excited to play every song! I really love playing ‘The Idiot’, that has some really cool guitar in it that I get to play with on stage. Then there’s some real bangers on a set list that I’ve actually been building in the studio and man, there’s just going to be some real moments in this show. The whole album is such a rollercoaster of emotion.
I’ve played the same six songs for five tours around America and Europe and at home and I’m just so ready to play new stuff and I’m glad that people have liked the new stuff because I think it just gets better from there.
MF: You’re also hitting up the second ever MTV Unplugged Melbourne later this year. How excited are you for that? I can imagine it’s quite a milestone for you.
AS: Oh, definitely. I grew up watching that and idolising the Nirvana Unplugged and Dashboard Confessional Unplugged and it’s just a classic, timeless thing to do and I am so happy that I get to do it.
MF: I was chatting to Gang of Youths’ Max Dunn about their MTV Unplugged gig a few weeks ago and he was talking a lot about the extra pressure that comes with performing live on TV. Are you feeling that pressure at all?
AS: Yes and no. I write a lot of my songs acoustic so I’m just going back to showing people how I wrote them and I might accompany them with my band as well. So for me it might be a bit easier because I’m just stripping everything back. It’s still very daunting, I’m in the same boat with it being live and it’s a different arrangement of songs and it’s you in the flesh. But the thing I love about the Nirvana Unplugged is that it’s so raw. He just doesn’t even care and just connects and gave the audience exactly who he was. So I think that’s just what I want to do. I just want to show them how I want to write and give them the song in its purest form.
Amy Shark’s new album Love Monster is out now! Catch her touring around Australia this August.