Angie McMahon has been taking the country by storm, from her infectious debut 'Slow Mover', followed up by equally catchy 'Missing Me' and, recently, got us all grooving again with her latest 'Keeping Time'. After a HUGE slot at Splendour in the Grass as well as a FIRST EVER national tour getting closer by the minute PLUS a debut album in it's final stages Angie seems to be 'Keeping Time' pretty well, and using some of that to have a chat with us about what she's been up to!
Rabbit Radio: So, you’re about to embark on your FIRST EVER national tour? How are you feeling about that!
Angie McMahon: Honestly, quite nervous! It feels like a big deal, it’s so exciting, but I put a whole lot of pressure on myself in the weeks leading up to headline shows, and these are the biggest headline shows we’ve done. The really happy feeling generally comes just as I’m walking on stage...and then the audience will be lovely and the band and I will have lots of fun, and I won’t want it to end. Up til then, just be over here shitting myself.
RR: Plus, you just played your DEBUT set at Splendour in the Grass. Set yourself back to last year, could you ever imagine that you’d be where you are right now?
AM: No! I just filed my APRA Performance Return, where you have to submit every gig that you’ve played in the last year, and on ‘Splendour’ weekend last year I played a gig to about 30 people. Plus I can’t see into the future :(
RR: What was your favourite part of the Splendour experience?
AM: I just loved playing our set...in the crowd there were people from all over, and they’d all got themselves to that stage to see us play, and brought such special energy with them. I really don’t take it for granted that we got to share that hour together.
RR: Which acts were you the most excited to see on the lineup?
AM: Middle Kids, Lorde and Ball Park Music, but I missed Ball Park Music because I fell asleep like a granny.
RR: What’s your current favourite track to play live?
AM: 'Silver Springs' by Fleetwood Mac - we’ve been covering that and it’s so fun to play.
RR: You’ve moved up into a pretty household name super quickly since the release of ‘Slow Mover’. Have you felt there’s been much of a change in your daily life? And have you found there’s been a lot of adjustments you’ve needed to make to fit your daily routine?
AM: Actually, yeah, I have found that everything’s pretty different. I don’t know if that just comes with being mid-twenties and working really properly hard for the first time as well, but my life has changed a lot. I don’t know if I’m a household name...I’m like a baby potato with arms flailing around trying to navigate the music industry and continue being a creative and healthy person. I’m finding it hard. But I feel so lucky, and I’ll keep trying.
RR: All the tracks you’ve released recently have all been super hooky, particularly in the guitar part (ie the iconic riff in ‘Slow Mover’). When writing your songs, do you usually start with the guitar part? Or do you start with lyrics?
AM: I think I’ve released the most hooky ones as singles, cause that’s kinda how you play the game, not all my songs are as catchy. I often get started with a guitar part that will be the foundation, but it might change down the line, once I’ve got the lyrics or melody or a better idea of the piece as a whole. Depends on the song, really. With ‘Missing Me’ the lyrics came first, with ‘Keeping Time’ the guitar riff came first, with ‘Slow Mover’ I rewrote the guitar part three or four times before settling on the final one.
RR: What often inspires the stories in your songs?
AM: Often it’s a muddle of feelings and voices going through my head, and I’m trying to write it down to get a clear idea or create something concise that will make me feel less muddled. Often it’s personal experiences, sometimes it isn’t, but I think I’m always looking for answers to various kinds of chaos.
RR: 'Keeping Time’ follows the ideas of yourself trying to stay motivated. What are some things you incorporate in your daily life to try and stay on top of all the tasks your rapid success has gotten you into?
AM: That’s such a good question, I wish I had a steady answer for it. Right now, I’m trying to figure that one out. But I know the things that help me, and I try to resort back to those when it’s piling up...I like doing 10 minutes of stretching (that will become yoga, hopefully, but for now it’s just stretching), and stepping away from the internet to read a book, spending time outside, and doing things for other people that take my mind off the whole ‘I’m important, my career is the be all and end all’ kinda mindset. Simple things like that, I never realised how important they were to stay mindful, until suddenly they became really necessary.
RR: Which current Australian acts are you the most inspired by right now?
AM: There are so many. The top of the list is like: Mia Dyson, Courtney Barnett, Oh Pep!, Middle Kids, Camp Cope, Julia Jacklin, Jen Cloher, Mojo Juju, etc etc. It is a long list. Usually it’s female singer songwriters that get me excited.
RR: What album/s has inspired you the most in your lifetime? Or which album/s do you always seem to come back to?
AM: I don’t really know which has inspired me the most, there’s been a whole bunch that I’ve held onto. I always come back to Bruce Springsteen albums - Born to Run, Nebraska, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Born in the USA - they each tell so many stories, and have taught me a lot about writing songs and playing music, and how it’s a legitimate thing to dedicate your life to.
RR: As one of the leading ladies in the Australian music industry at the moment, what do you think are the biggest issues faced by emerging artists and particularly emerging female artists?
AM: Well, firstly I think it’s a really positive time to be an emerging/female artist, because there’s a lot of space to do things well on your own terms. Today, the issue that is top of my mind is the first Bluesfest announcement, which indicates a bigger problem. I think some of the powerful people in the industry can be really close-minded. When a lineup includes very few women and no women of colour, that sends a message that they’re not as important, will get paid less, are entering an industry that isn’t progressive or inclusive, and that there is less representation and opportunity than there is for men/white people. Those things aren’t true! But why are festival directors sending that message? And when people speak out about it, why do they get attacked on social media by the festival director himself? There have been some pretty disgusting comments made by the head of Bluesfest to defend his own lineup. The industry is without a Human Resources department. There’s no unit assessing when people get treated like shit and then taking action and holding them accountable. We’ve got to surround ourselves with good people, have an educated perspective and speak up when it’s important to us.
RR: And finally, what’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?
AM: It’s probably either “take a break” or “work harder”, I usually need to hear one of the two.
You can catch any of the songs Angie was chatting about at any of the dates/venues listen below OR check out her infectious new single 'Keeping Time':
ANGIE MCMAHON HEADLINE TOUR + WITH SPECIAL GUEST LEIF VOLLEBEKK
Tickets on sale now
Thursday 6th September
The Forum, Melbourne VIC - 18+
Friday 7 September
The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD - AA
Saturday 8th September
The Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW - LIC/AA
Friday 14th September
Rosemount Hotel, Perth WA - 18+
Saturday 15th September
Uni Bar, Adelaide SA - LIC/AA