Rory Adams was never your average kid. When his mates in Adelaide were kicking oval-shaped balls and playing Fruit Ninja, Adams was making music. The songwriter caught the bug, aged eight. Using GarageBand with his cousin, the youngster slapped down his first lyrics. One of early songs was about a dog called Misty. We all start somewhere. Adams moved on, fast.
At 15, when others were flexing, he was fixated with the art of songwriting, and navigating the path ahead.
“I decided I wanted to get a publishing deal and I started writing more and more,” he recounts. “I would sit in class and have tabs open with all the companies. And figure out how to meet them.”
Adams skilled up, made contacts, got spotted and was chased for publishing by Savan Kotecha and Sony ATV in Los Angeles. In late 2019, at the age of just 18, Rory signed a publishing arrangement with Sony ATV’s Jennifer Knoepfle, senior A&R for Jack Antonoff, Joel Little, Scott Harris and others.
Today, just four years after committing himself to music, Adams has already ticked off a chunk of his to-do list. He’s written with Conan Grey, Years & Years, Maisie Peters and many others. He’s splitting time between London and Los Angeles, with a distant, third base in Sydney.
Speaking to TIO over the phone from L.A., Adams has all the enthusiasm you’d expect from a 19-year-old with the world at his feet. And, fittingly for a songwriter, he’s articulate. He chooses the right words and he does so carefully. He’s racing but he’s not in a hurry.
“I did not expect my life would turn out the way it as. Especially as quickly as it did,” Adams tells TIO.
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“I finished year 12 and all of a sudden, everything changed. And it hasn’t slowed down. I’ve kept going, kept jumping around the world. It’s weird. I get used to it for a second, then I find myself thinking, ‘woah.’ It wasn’t that long ago that all of this was completely unattainable.”
It wasn’t that long ago when Adams had in head in books.
With graduation in sight at Adelaide’s University Senior College in 2018, Rory was at a crossroad. Studying the career of his hero Julia Michaels and other success stories closer to home, the youngster hatched a plan.
“In those last two years I decided I wanted to get a publishing deal, I wanted to write for others. From my bedroom I would write songs and build up demos that I was planning to get in front of publishers. I just didn’t know how.”
Rory took a punt and applied for APRA AMCOS SongHubs Nashville 2018. It was a long short. A teen’s dream.
The camp’s curators “heard something in the songs he submitted that stood him above the rest of the pack,” recounts APRA’s Director Member Relations Milly Petriella, and he scored an invite, taking him overseas for the first time. “Once he landed in Nashville and began collaborating with the other writers and producers, calls started coming through to us back home to advise that we had discovered an incredible writer, predicting that he would be highly sought after when he got home by publishers and managers globally,” Petriella notes.
Within six months — an “extraordinarily fast trajectory within this industry,” Petriella points out — Rory had secured a major publishing deal from the U.S., locked in a high-profile and well-respected manager and was spending his time with the A-team in writing rooms around the globe, from the U.K., to L.A. and Australia and logging several weeks in Sweden.
“Rory’s warmth and honesty in the way he approaches life is obviously being reflected in his songs,” Petriella explains, “and he’s paving the way for a very long and lucrative career in songwriting.”
Another career-defining moment occurred in January 2019, when Ashley Page, director Page 1 management, entered the picture.
Page, the British-born, Auckland-based industry figure, and multiple winner for Manager of the Year in NZ for his work with the artists Broods, Joel Little and Jarryd James, welcomed Adams to the firm.
“We clicked from the get go,” Adams recalls. “He’s really such a great music guy. He hears things early, before other managers jump on.” With Page opening doors and creating opportunities, Adams could unleash his creativity. “It’s quality not quantity with him,” he enthuses.
In quick time, Rory locked in sessions with a long lineup of new and established artists and producers from Isaac Dunbar (including single ‘Ferrari’), Maisie Peters (including EP track ‘Look At Me Now’), Years & Years, Robinson, Charlotte Lawrence, Navvy, Conan Grey, Gracey, Starsmith, Little Mix, Wrabel, Fred Ball, Siba, Jonny Coffer, Lewis Blissett, DFA, Steve Robson, Mimi and more. The list goes on.
In recent months, he’s cut song with a slew of artists, “some of whom I was a fan of before I came into the industry,” he admits. And in time, he hopes to relocate full-time to L.A., and perhaps bump into another, high-flying crow eater, Sia Furler.
Songwriting is a team sport and Rory is quick to give shout-outs to his many supporters along the way, from his coach Kirsty Roberts (“she’d plant a seed in my brain,” he says of their sessions back in Adelaide), and his parents, neither of whom have a musical background.
And what lessons has the young songwriter learned during his rapid rise? “What’s meant to happen will happen, as long as you remain friendly, hard-working and you come in with a great energy and work hard,” he explains. “And you’re nice to people. With that domino effect, the right things happen at the right time.”