Interview: Sheppard ahead of their live gig with Dami Im
Australia Decides stars Sheppard are due to perform a live gig at the Tivoli in Brisbane next week with Eurovision legend Dami Im joining them as a special guest.
Ahead of the show, we spoke to the Brisbane based group to about their new album, the pandemic's impact on artists, how Australia Decides helped build their fan base and if they'd have another crack at Eurovision.
Take a read of our interview George, Amy and Emma below:
In 2020 you took on the ambitious plan to release 12 singles in 12 months, what made you take that approach and was it ever at risk of failing?
George: We had a couple of songs we had been playing around with, and we had just put out a charity song to raise money for the bushfire relief effort (Phoenix) which, thanks to our new home studio, took us less than a month to write, record and release. So we decided to set ourselves the challenge of doing it again. And again. And again! Then Covid was upon us... so, the challenge became a way for us to channel our creative energy, stay disciplined and find our sound when we weren't 100% sure what the next step for Sheppard was. Several of the months we were definitely racing to the deadline to get some tracks completed but once momentum built, there was no stopping us! It was an interesting experience because our third album grew out of it through the process. You can see the entire journey of the album being created by following the singles in order of release. Every month the sound, the artwork and the entire aesthetic of what it was we were making slowly started to grow. Piece by piece it became a little more refined, until around September we finally had an album title that perfectly represented the body of work we were putting together, and ‘Kaleidoscope Eyes’ was born!
You've recently been able to perform at both the AFL Grand Final and the State of Origin - how important is that exposure for you and your music?
Amy: We are so grateful to have a chance to play ANY live music, especially amid all the lockdowns and border closures. Both the AFL and NRL opportunities were perfect timing, and we were honoured to be asked. Whether we perform a big hit or one of our newer singles, we love the chance for our music to be showcased. We write and produce everything at home, so it really means a lot. After the AFL Grand Final, Geronimo and Coming Home were at the top of the iTunes charts for weeks. So, we don't take it for granted as people are still discovering us!
Congratulations on 'Kaleidescope Eyes' reaching no.2 on the ARIA chart, for those who haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, what can they expect from the album?
Emma: This album is all about love. Love isn't always sunshine and rainbows... it can be complex, heartbreaking, joyful and everything in between. Every song on the album tries to encapsulate and celebrate the way you view the world when you're in love whether it’s light or dark, and we hope you love what we’ve made!
Your hometown of Brisbane comes through a lot in your music and videos, we imagine you must be stoked with the city getting the 2032 Olympics?
George: So stoked! At the time of the announcement there had been a bit of online flack for how many sports events we had played (2 in 10 months lol) and Sportsbet did a very funny post that we had begun rehearsals for 2032 which some took way too seriously. But we are so happy for Brisbane, the city is going to be pumping! And what a lovely surprise it was for Brisbane to use our tune ‘Coming Home’ as the announcement track! We wrote that song as a love letter to Brisbane, so for the city to have decided to use it for such a momentous occasion in its history was a dream come true.
If you were lucky enough to perform at the games, which three songs would you perform?
George: Probably Geronimo, Geronimo and maybe… Geronimo? Haha just kidding. Of course, we’d have to have Coming Home in there, and our biggest single EVER... which hasn’t been written yet!
So you're playing the Tivoli in Brisbane on September 3rd - tell us about it and what it means to be doing live gigs again?
Amy: On stage is where we want to be. We recently did the Mt Isa Rodeo gig when Guy Sebastian couldn't make it across the border and that was the best reminder of what a couple of thousand screaming fans can do singing our songs back to us. Any artist will tell you what a feeling that is! The Tivoli will be hometown, all Sheppard fans who have always supported us and some of the Dami Army too! As you probably know, Eurovision Queen Dami Im is our special guest for the night! You may even hear us perform our Eurovision entry for the first time in a while…
Obviously much of the country is in lockdown at the moment, but will you be announcing future dates in other locations?
George: We have a whole national tour penciled in but it's all on hold. So hard to plan at a time like this. Whether it goes ahead we have to see but, in some way, shape or form, we hope to be getting around the country in 2022!
You have a passionate fan base called 'The Flock', we understand your appearance at 'Eurovision - Australia Decides' helped that come about?
Emma: Yes, we love The Flock, shout out to anyone reading this who is in The Flock! That all began around the time we competed in Eurovision - Australia Decides and we had so much love and support from those wanting us to do well so it all became kind of our official online fan page. They really come out to support us and we are so grateful. Anyone can join if you're reading this and feel left out haha - search us on Facebook.
Your music has resonated really well with fans in Europe, particularly The Netherlands and Belgium, why do you think you've had success there?
George: It's always so hard to pinpoint exactly why a song takes off in a certain country, but I think being a part of Eurovision: Australia Decides put us in a spotlight of discovery for a lot of people over in Europe. Also, the support from radio over there has been phenomenal. I guess they just “get” Sheppard in Europe and it's a bit of a snowball effect. Before we knew it our management are letting us know that this song or that song is going off in The Netherlands or Belgium or Germany... It's weird to think about it but we are so grateful for it and can't wait to get back over there and play to our European fans!
You were in the really competitive inaugural 'Eurovision - Australia Decides', what was that like and did you take any learnings from that experience?
Emma: Being asked to be part of the very first one alongside such amazing acts, that was a huge honour. In terms of learnings, it was more a beautiful reminder of what Australian music has to offer and how talented this country is. So many voices and genres and it was great to be part of it. We all became quite close over the experience! It’s a shame there could only be one winner, but it’s safe to say we were all rooting for Kate once Australia made their decision.
Did you catch Eurovision this year and if so, which acts were some of your favourites?
Amy: Of course! We loved Montaigne and Technicolour. Loved her song last year too. In terms of other countries, my easy favourite was 'Je me casse' from Malta. That girl can sing!
And speaking of Eurovision... many fans here and in Europe want to know, would you consider going into the Contest again???
George: Not sure if we will be asked! We’ll never say never. It was a real honour to be a part of, so let's see what the future has in store for us!
Thanks so much for joining us and good luck with the show next week!