"It's hard to make any sort of ripples where I'm from."

Amy Shark - real name Amy Billings - is talking about her home on Australia's Gold Coast. There's a light trace of irony in her choice of words: she checks a marine animal as her namesake; she found her way to success via the radio waves of Australian station Triple J; and the Gold Coast is something of a seaside paradise. Billings' life is punctuated with oceanic themes and, in the past year or so, she's made more than just a few ripples.

Before her single Adore became a breakthrough success, Billings was ready to give up on music. She was enjoying her day job as a video editor, and six years of actively pursuing a music career and trying to get radio play were starting to get the better of her.

"The Gold Coast doesn't have many venues, and there's so much competition ... I always had in the back of my mind that it's a dream; it's not really going to happen," she says.

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"I was at the stage where I was writing and demoing a lot of songs that I really liked but I was thinking, 'I cannot even be bothered securing in studio time to put it out, cause what am I putting it out for? No one gives a shit, there's like 11 people that listen to my music. I don't have the steam anymore'."

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"I always had in the back of my mind that it's a dream; it's not really going to happen." Photo / supplied

Things began to change when Billings began incorporating electronic and hip-hop influences into her song-writing. She reinvented herself as "Amy Shark".
"My favourite movie is Jaws," she says. Her single Spits on Girls found some radio play on Triple J, then another, Golden Fleece, went on to win a Queensland Pop Award, which gave her a much-needed boost of inspiration.

Deciding she wanted to work with a renowned, professional producer, she "stalked the hell out" of the management for M-Phazes, a Gold Coast beatmaker who has worked with Madonna, Kimbra and Zara Larsson. His team liked her demos, and she managed to secure studio time with him - the product of which was her smash-hit single Adore.

So began a whirlwind year-and-a-bit for Billings. In January 2017, Adore shot to number two on the Triple J hottest 100, second to only Flume's Never Be Like You. She followed up with her debut EP, Night Thinker, and has spent 2017 touring extensively across Australia and the US - where she's heading back to later this month to support Vance Joy on his world tour. She's also just joined the line-up for Laneway Festival in 2018.

Amy Shark as we know her almost never existed. Now, she's one of Australia's most in-demand pop artists. So how is Billings handling that change?

"There are definitely moments where I'm like, 'I'm out of my league here'. But I've got good people around me that reassure me: 'This is what you're supposed to do, and you're actually doing a really good job of it, get out of your own head'.

"So now, it took a little bit [of time], but I do feel like I'm good, and I'm meant to be here, and I'm just excited for what's happening."

LOWDOWN:
Who: Amy Shark
What: Night Thinker EP Tour
When: Friday September 22
Where: The Kings Arms