With the global and Aria Award winning success of Amy Shark’s debut album ‘Love Monster’ there was always going to be a heavy microscope on what she did next. But she didn’t allow that to override her focus on creating something that was even more emotionally pure as her debut, as she took the time to really discover what she wanted this next chapter to represent.
‘Cry Forever’ is a collection of 13 tracks that feels deeply rooted in the present moment. They’re all inspired by what was happening at the time she picked up the guitar and was soundboarding the ideas that were circling her head. Whereas her debut album was more-so a collection of different moments in her past that shaped her artistry. This different form of introspection is very current, and the intensity of vulnerability is captured from the opening moments of ‘The Wolves’ right through to the raw closing track ‘Amy Shark’.
Following the release of this album, the Gold Coast based singer-songwriter is hitting the road for her biggest headlining tour yet which will see her playing the first Australian arena tour since the pandemic hit. This transition to arenas is very organic as this record is cinematically inclined and grand with its production. There are multiple big chant worthy hooks that are going to come to life in the live setting with the audience passionately singing along with her. And there are also songs that feel like a matured evolution of what was captured on her debut album with her honest and warm songwriting making you feel so connected with her.
I recently chatted to Amy Shark about the evolution of her artistry and songwriting between ‘Love Monster’ and ‘Cry Forever’, and discuss the creative processes behind ‘Miss You’, ‘Lonely Still’ and Worst Day Of My Life’. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: ‘Cry Forever’ is a strong body of work that finds comfort in the exploration of emotions. After releasing ‘Love Monster’, which was a big emotionally unravelling of heartbreak and love, did you already have a clear vision of what you wanted this next record to represent when You returned to the studio?
AMY SHARK: Not really to be honest. I didn’t know I was writing it until I had started. The best thing that I did was that I didn’t stop writing, even when I was touring ‘Love Monster’. I was still promoting that album, and unbeknownst to me had started the second album because I was going through all of these different things with different people, and it was very inspiring to document it all. I was literally doing it to just get by, and to digest things that I was experiencing personally.
It wasn’t until my label were like “when are you ready to start the second album?”, and I was like, “I think I’m ready to go”. I had a strong amount of demos on my phone that I was excited about, so it kinda crept up on me. But this album is a lot more current than the last one, and they’re all about things that are happening right now in my life.
TB: What was the earliest song you wrote for the record?
AS: Touring ‘Love Monster’ and going through that whole album was such a big thing, and there were so many moving parts to that cycle that no one else really saw. Not all of it is popping bottles and celebrating, there are some darker times. Especially with the roller coaster I’ve been on over the past few years, it’s been a journey.
The earliest song on the song would probably be ‘Everybody Rise’. I started that just before the 2018 Aria Awards. And then ‘C’MON’ was very close to that one too. I remember being at a radio promo event and I went back to my hotel and wrote that song, and that would’ve been late 2018 or early 2019. And then ‘You’ll Never Meet Anyone Like Me Again’ was very close after that too.
A lot of them actually came about while I was on this European tour. It was the first time I had a bus, and I was in Germany and it was snowing and I never left the bus and just kept writing while the guys went and played pool *laughs*.
TB: ’Miss You’ is a track that immediately stands out on the record, and gives listeners some strong emotional imagery. So can you explain the creative process behind this track in particular?
AS: ‘Miss You’ is the sexiest song on the album, and I think it’s probably the sexiest song I’ve ever written *laughs*. It’s funny because it was probably one of the last songs I wrote for the record. I remember I had Sam Dejong booked in for a session who is this incredible up-and-coming producer, and I forgot he was coming over as I had just got back from Los Angeles and was super jet lagged. So I nearly cancelled on him coming over. But I went through with it and he played me this guitar riff, and once the beat started taking shape everything just came out lyrically. It just sounded so sexy to me. I was taken back to a very specific couple of times in my life, and that’s what we wrote about because no one wants to hear about boring shit, everyone wants to hear about sexy times as that’s when the real fire is in the lyrics.
TB: This song does feel like a good transition from the lyrical content of ‘Love Monster’. Is there another song on the album for you that feels like a continuation or evolution from that period?
AS: Yeah, I think ‘The Wolves’ honestly reminds me a bit of ‘I Said Hi’ with the production and the breakdowns. Even ‘C’MON’ sounds like a healthy next step production wise with the sound of it. But there are some songs on this one that really took a different shape to ‘Love Monster’ as there is so much more colour in this one.
TB: Talking about strong lyrics, ‘Lonely Still’ gave me one of my favourite lyrical moments on the record where you sing; “they say if you love someone let them go. Why anyone wanna do that, I’d never know”. Oooft, now that is some heavy feelings. What inspired that particular lyric for you?
AS: There have been moments in my life where I’ve met someone and it hasn’t particularly been the best timing, and maybe you don’t really make sense, and you don’t want to interrupt that persons trajectory because they’re heading to a better place than you are right now. I just remember people trying to give me advice like; “you know, if you really love them then you should just let them go” and was like “But why would I do that?”. I’m a Taurus, and I’m really stubborn, so if I really want something then I’m going to fight and throw down for it.
So yeah that line kinda just fell out. I wrote it in Vegas, actually. I was by myself on tour, and sometimes I don’t even know where things come from, but that lyric just poured out.
TB: Well, I’m a Pisces, so you can probably tell I’m hyper emotional by the lyrics I choose to talk about *laughs*. And I really felt like ‘Love Monster’ was written for all the water based star signs as it emotionally fucked me up for 3 years *laughs*.
AS: I love that! *laughs* I’m taking care of you, but putting you in a bad way too *laughs*.
TB: ‘Worst Day Of My Life’ hears you experimenting with a slightly different rhythmic production. What was sonically inspiring you particularly with that track? Was there a bit of a latin pop guitar influence?
AS: Yeah, I kinda went out of my way to make it a bit more edgy. That was actually played on a guitarlele and I was never going to actually play it on that but I found that whenever I travelled my guitar was too big and inconvenient to travel with, so I bought a little guitar so I could work on songs on the go.
I really love that guitar riff, and I was absolutely obsessed with it and my band were so over it as I would keep playing it in soundcheck. But that song actually took me a while to finish it.
There’s a lyric that goes; “Made it out of cardboard and rope, and hung it around my neck so you would see it”. And I remember being on tour and watching Love Actually one night and there’s that scene where he goes up to Kiera Knightley and holds up those signs which is one of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen in a movie. So I guess this song is a real “will they, won’t they” moment with this couple who just never seem to be over. They can’t quite finish up no matter how old they are, and where they are in life as they always have this beam of energy and attraction, and I guess that’s what this song is talking about.
TB: The album closes with the self titled track, ‘Amy Shark’, which may just be your most explicitly vulnerable track yet. When you sit and listen back to that track now, what emotions or memories overflow your head?
AS: I guess I have to find a heathy medium when I hear it back, or sing it, to be really proud of where I am, what I’ve gone through, and what I’ve come out the other end of. But also not totally put it away in a box as you do need to deal with this stuff.
I felt really good after writing it as I always want to put songs out that will maybe help someone else get through something similar and get to the lighter part of the tunnel. And I think I kinda owed it to my fans as that’s a big part of being an artist. If I had held that song back then I would’ve felt like a fraud. It was definitely the hardest song to write, but it felt necessary for this album.
TB: You uploaded a hilariously candid video on Instagram of moments in the studio with Shane where you were picking the songs you wanted to have for the album and it was heated to say the least. One thing that really created a conversation was a scream you really wanted to keep but he didn’t. Was that the scream in ‘Everybody Rise’?
AS: Yeah! I won, It was always staying *laughs*.
TB: What was his reaction once he found out you recorded that whole conversation?
AS: He didn’t care as he never thought I was ever going to do anything with it. And then once I watched it back I was like “oh my god, you are going to die, this is so funny”, and we were literally losing it watching it back. So yeah, it took a little bit of convincing for me to post it but I said to him that I thought it was important, not only for people to see how involved he was, but that it’s important for artists to have someone to push and challenge them.
TB: You are embarking on a huge Australian tour in June. So with these shows seeing you play some of your biggest venues to date, how are you planning on enlarging everything and really embodying the emotion of this record?
AS: I got a small taste of it with ‘Love Monster’ when I played Margaret Court Arena and Riverstage, and got to flex a little bit. But this time I will be a little bit more prepared for that size of venue. I always want to make sure that I’m playing like I’m playing to a small group as well as an arena. It’s going to be challenging, but I definitely want to make sure those intimate moments are present and really felt. I think we are in really good shape as everything is looking really good, big and strong. I’ve also added a new guy to my band who is seriously one of the best bassists I’ve ever seen. It sounds massive!
TB: What song from the record do you think will be the most challenging to bring into the live space?
AS: It’s bad because I’m like “they are all sounding pretty good” *laughs*. But I think ‘Amy Shark’ will probably test me with how Im going to set that up, how I’m going to get through it, and where I’m going to go every night mentally when I play it.
‘Cry Forever’ is out now!
Amy Shark Australian Tour
Friday 11 June – Newcastle Entertainment Centre, Newcastle
Saturday 12 June – Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney
Friday 18 June – Rod Laver Arena, Brisbane
Saturday 19 June – Wrest Point Lawns, Hobart
Friday 25 June – HOTA, Gold Coast
Saturday 26 June – Riverstage, Brisbane
Thursday 1 July – AEC Theatre, Adelaide
Saturday 3 July – RAC Arena, Perth