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Angie McMahon on her debut album and feminine identity

WORDS BY ELIZA SHOLLY

Total strangers.

If Angie McMahon was given a high school superlative, it wouldn’t have been Most Outgoing.

It probably would not have even been Most Likely to Become Famous. But she would have been a frontrunner for Most Likely to Fulfil her Dreams, in one capacity or another. How do I know this? Well, to unnecessarily insert myself into this narrative, I actually went to school with her.

I guess you could say I’ve been following Angie’s career since 2005, when we both played trumpet together in our primary school instrumental program. And while my performative musical career began and ended there, it was obvious even then that bigger things were on the horizon for Angie.

After graduating, the world cottoned on to her talents. The last two years have seen her release a string of exceptionally well-received singles, sell-out international headline shows, perform coveted festival spots and amass a legion of fans from all around the world.

The culmination of this writing, touring and performing is her debut album, Salt, a project that packages a feeling so well, Angie makes it look easy.

The record couples melancholy solitude with powerful songwriting. It serves as a timely reminder that the truth isn’t always easy to hear, but it’s easier to digest with a voice like hers.

Salt seems to enter the inner workings of your mind. What happens when total strangers feel they have licence to ask you about some of the darkest moments in your life?

To be honest, it’s sort of become a really big part of me developing as a person. It’s interesting to talk to you, actually, because you knew me when I was younger. Back then I was so worried about what people thought of me and the way I came across. I know everyone was like that, but I think it’s something I carried into the beginning of my career.

I would so much rather utilise my energy on actual health, and the things that truly matter. Writing so openly has been a really nice way to let go of caring so much. Having all these conversations, you can’t be fake. I don’t really have the option to be anyone but myself, and I’m at peace with that.

This album is a kaleidoscope of emotions. Is it scary releasing something so personal?

Because I have been sitting with the songs for such a long time, it’s almost like looking back at a past reflection of myself. And while the subject matter is really personal, it’s also not what I’m going through right now. Maybe it’s not so scary because I’ve already lived the things, and now they’re old trauma.

What are your favourite songs to cry to?

This actually isn’t something I’ve shared with anyone, but to be totally open, the first few months of this year I was pretty depressed. So it’s been a big learning curve to work through that and keep being productive at the same time. Making emotional playlists is good for that.

I have this playlist that I made called ‘Pulling Together’, which is pretty good.

There’s one [song] called ‘Beloved’ by Mia Dyson that will one hundred per cent make me cry. There’s another called ‘Northsiders’, by Christian Lee Hutson, which is a good one. K.d. lang, she does a cover of Neil Young’s ‘After The Gold Rush’.

‘And I am a Woman’ overtly explores the minutiae of feminine identity in such a pure and raw way. How do you feel about being at the forefront of vulnerable women in Australian music at the moment?

It’s no secret that the movement where people – particularly women – are being open about their experiences, desires and rights is becoming louder. It’s exciting to be a part of that. I don’t really feel like I’m at the forefront in that sense, because I feel a part of it, more than anything. I’m so inspired by all the other people [who are so open] and it feels like because of them, I can be. It doesn’t feel like some big brave thing, it feels like a natural progression.

angiemcmahon.com

Salt is out now via AWAL Recordings. Catch Angie McMahon touring nationally in October.

This article was originally published in Fashion Journal 190. You can read it here.

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