Following Brad Hosking’s incredible year in music as part of Amy Shark’s ARIA-award winning band, we caught up with the talented musician about his burgeoning recording studio, his work teaching Bachelor of Contemporary Music students at Southern Cross University, and what the rest of 2021 has in store.
When striking up a conversation with music enthusiasts the world over, you’d be hard-pressed to find one who doesn’t love Amy Shark’s music. Her live shows are equally as mesmerising.
Enter Brad Hosking – multi-talented musician, record producer, and Amy Shark’s musical director since the start – running the stage production for her every show, and performing as her main guitarist, synth and bass player.
Brad has been working with the celebrated songstress since 2011, and says the band was absolutely thrilled to take out the 2020 ARIA Award for the ‘Best Live Act of the Year’, with Amy also taking out the Best Pop Release for ‘Everybody Rise’.
“I’ve been working with Amy for a decade now, and it was incredible to win the Best Live Act award where everyone in the wider team is able to take something out of it – from the band onstage to the lighting crew, audio crew, the monitor engineers, stage technicians and everything that goes into putting on the huge live show – it’s the award Amy and her immediate team were really hoping for,” Brad said.
Amy Shark burst onto the global music stage in 2016 with her hit single ‘Adore’ and the Gold Coast singer songwriter has continued to dazzle with 2020’s Travis Barker collab ‘C’MON’.
It’s been a mega 2021 for Brad who produced the self-titled song ‘Amy Shark’ for Amy’s second studio album ‘Cry Forever’, which also includes a collaboration with Ed Sheeran and Keith Urban on ‘Love Songs Ain’t For Us’, with Brad Hosking on bass in the video.
And in July the band hit the road again for the ‘Cry Forever’ tour – the biggest headline shows Amy Shark’s ever performed, including Sydney Super Dome, and shows in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Newcastle. Brad said it was ‘very surreal and almost an out of body experience’ to be able to play to live audiences again – despite the Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth shows being postponed until September due to restrictions.
“When we tour I generally switch instruments between each song. I play whatever I need to for the set to make it happen – especially touring internationally when there’s generally just the three of us on stage – so it’s always changing and keeps it exciting,” Brad said.
Between touring the globe – and more recently Australia – and running his commercial recording studio, Blind Boy Studios, you’ll find Brad pouring his heart into teaching music students at Southern Cross University’s newest location at Coomera Creative Campus.
“We deliver the Bachelor of Contemporary Music at both Coomera and Lismore campus locations, and were the first University in the country to deliver an innovative music course of this kind almost 30 years ago and it’s gone from strength to strength,” Brad said.
It’s great being able to use my experience to train the country’s most promising performers and songwriters and producers and to help students creatively on instrumental, lyrical, performance and production ideas.
“Our students have such a cool opportunity learning from current industry professionals and technical staff who are regularly touring and playing festivals, making records, and helping artists with marketing and releasing, and the things these students are learning are all immediately industry current which is a real positive thing.
“There are so many benefits these students gain from studying this music course at Southern Cross University – not only is their mentorship experience from industry-leading professionals second-to-none but our students get to perform at major Australian music festivals and collaborate with like-minded creatives. We live in one the most creative regions in Australia, with the corridor from Lismore to Brisbane and surrounds a place that national and international artists have long called home, with iconic studios and major festivals.
“We have strong links to industry events and major festival connections such as Splendour in the Grass, Bluesfest, Groundwater, Blues on Broadbeach, and Cooly Rocks On festivals where many students gain placement experience during their degree. Students have access to numerous performance opportunities and partnerships, paid gig opportunities, we organise shows for students, and host APRA AMCOS songwriters’ workshops featuring visiting artists.”
The course is designed and delivered by current industry professionals including course coordinator Matt Hill of Australian instrumental trio ‘Amphibian’, Australian songstress Leigh Carriage, composer Annie Mitchell, top Australian drum educator David Sanders, acclaimed bassist Barry Hill, award-winning media artist Grayson Cooke, Casey Barnes’ musical director and bass player Ben Crawford, along with ARIA-award winner Brad Hosking, and others.
Iconic Southern Cross University music graduates include indie rock band WHARVES hailing from Lennox Head, and singer-songwriter BUOY, to musical director of ‘The Voice’ Scott Aplin, award-winning producer Matt Fell, Matt Smith of Thirsty Merc, and US country music number-one hit songwriter Phil Barton, and Coomera Creative Campus grads including Triple J Unearthed, neo-soul darling DVNA and Eves Karydas’ synth and bass player Dylan Lindquist.
Current students who are making waves include Indigenous hip hop crew ECB who are getting Triple J airplay, and rapper JK-47 – a member of ECB who’s also releasing solo material and playing shows.
Brad teaches the specialist songwriting and production units in the degree, working with students on crafting their songs, and recording them in the state-of-the-art studios. Students in the degree range from those who want to become performers and songwriters, to producers, sound engineers, music educators, session musicians, musical directors, music event promoters, and band and venue managers.
“Another thing I love about working at Southern Cross Uni is the music equipment and facilities are world-class. It’s a new facility and we’re always upgrading our music equipment and software, and the rehearsal rooms are full of backline, drums, keyboards, bass and guitar amps. Students have access to the studios 14 hours a day, six days a week,” he said.
Back at Blind Boy Studios in his own production time, Brad works with a curated selection of established and emerging artists – from Gold Coast alternative pop queen Ella Fence, folksy-roots gem Calan Mai and country legend Casey Barnes. He works with artists perfecting their original songs, then recording and producing them.
He said the influx of people wanting to move from the southern states up to Queensland and Northern NSW has brought even more creative talent into the region.
“Southern Cross Uni has campuses across Coffs Harbour, Lismore and two on the Gold Coast – one next to Gold Coast Airport and the other in partnership with TAFE at Coomera – and so with the recent influx of people wanting to move to South East Queensland and Northern NSW from Sydney and Victoria, we’ve seen increased domestic demand for our courses – particularly our music and creative offerings,” he said.
“Location is a huge benefit for students, with music offered at both Lismore and Coomera campuses in the incredible corridor between Northern Rivers, Gold Coast and Brisbane, with exciting networking capability for students with industry.
“We had more than 80 new students for the March intake in 2021, studying the degree across our Coomera and Lismore campuses, with many talented musicians and aspiring songwriters and producers auditioning and interviewing successfully.
“Applications for 2022 intake are now open, for those wanting to study the music degree at Lismore and Coomera campuses from March next year. We’ve also recently launched an Australian exclusive Rolling Stone scholarship – worth $15,000 which students can apply for.”
Brad said while the pandemic has thrown up a lot of challenges for those working in the music industry with cancelled tours, festivals, shows and restrictions of recording sessions; being the collective creative force that musicians are, he’s seen many professionals adapt and emerge even stronger, using new platforms such as zoom to write songs and collaborate and even conduct auditions for studying the degree. His own touring plans were initially upended, but Brad said he and the band were able to work on pre-recorded and live online shows for fans, work on boutique live performances in domestic locations such as Hamilton Island, produce a live set for breakfast TV program sunrise and one of his highlights – building Amy Shark’s live set for the 2020 NRL grand final remotely from his Gold Coast home for a national audience.
Brad is currently working with a company called Decodable Readers, writing and producing 40 songs and educational videos that teach children aged 4 to 8, as well as older students with learning difficulties how to read and sound out words. The program will be rolling out in primary schools across the country in the coming year.
But his highlight of 2021?
“It’s such an honour to work with Amy again on her latest album – as she spends a lot of time travelling the world to work with different song writers such as Ed Sheeran and Travis Barker,” Brad said.
“It’s been special getting back into the studio here at home on the Gold Coast to produce a track with her again, returning to where it all began, then hitting the road to tour her new music.”
Learn more about studying Contemporary Music at Southern Cross University.