tunesday – angie mcmahon interview
Life wouldn’t be the same without Angie McMahon's music. Anyone who's listened to the Melbourne local will understand how her soul-baring songs can affirm you – if not through their relatable stories than perhaps from the way Angie connects eating pasta with feeling lost in life in one effortless verse. For her latest EP Piano Salt, Angie reimagined her acclaimed 2019 album Salt on the piano, adding her own versions of songs by Bruce Springsteen and Lana Del Rey to the mix. We caught up with Angie to hear more about the release, her influences and latest quarantine projects. Snap by Caitlin Reilly
What's a day in the life of Angie like right now? I’m isolating with my three dear housemates in Melbourne, and I’m lucky to come together and eat dinner with them and play card games most nights. My days have become really peaceful. I sit somewhere to drink tea and write or read, and do some yoga. I make art when it feels good. I’ve just been doing everything very slowly and trying to be present.
Your music is genuine and rebellious all at once. What got you to this point? That’s so generous to say. I think it’s important to be rebellious, and in lots of situations, it is kind of radical to be vulnerable and honest and raw. I find more peace and joy when I take a vulnerable route through something, and I think I learnt that through trial and error with everything – school, hard conversations, weird relationships, building skills, discovering myself. All those things feel better when I’m being vulnerable.
You've just released piano covers of your last album. What are some of the new life experiences that have changed the way you look at these songs since you made the original recordings? So much of my life experience has been bundled into the last couple of years since recording that album. If I had to choose one thing, it’d be learning more about stepping into someone else’s shoes.
A cover of a song gives it a new perspective, and a piano cover of a rock song gives it a gentler and more spacious and intimate life. I love both the rock and the piano versions and I don’t think either is better. As I grow and get to interact with different people more, and learn about different perspectives, it feels natural to give old songs new life.
You’re also a painter. What drawings and paintings have you been making during lockdown? I’m such a basic bitch painter and I love it because there is zero pressure on any of my visual art being any good. So if I feel like anything is even slightly good, I’m so stoked about it! I’ve been painting with some of my dear friends over Zoom doing a weekly art meeting. I mostly do abstract mess, clouds and lots of flowers, and I recently painted a picture of my friend’s dog for her birthday. Anything like that, which looks properly proportioned, is definitely traced from my computer. This is Duke the border collie and a face which I kind of think of as Mother Earth or something.
If you could play a show in any art gallery or museum, where would you perform and what painting would you perform next to? I have no idea. I’m going to say it would be outdoors, like the botanical gardens (a nature museum!) and the art would be a sculpture of a badass woman who changed the world.
What is influencing you that you want to share with others? I love this question because I’m annoying all my friends by telling them to read these books that are inspiring me so much. This incredible book called Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer is about the relationship between humans and nature, and it's so humbling and inspiring, it makes me want to write poems every day. I think all the books I’m reading are going to come back out of me in some way in songs later on. These are a few on my mind: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad, Period Queen by Lucy Peach, Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke, Dog Songs by Mary Oliver.
If you could give advice to the person you were five years ago, what would you tell yourself? Don’t be afraid to tell people how you feel and keep working on the things that you feel are important. Stop saying mean things to yourself – it’s OK to go slowly. And you’re always going to wish you practiced instruments more, so just do it.
Snap by Chelsea Sienna
In what ways do you wish to inspire others? This question is hard. Music is just magic. I’d like to be a part of unifying people, helping people feel stronger. It’s just work for all of us to do together.
This year has been a challenging time for the music industry. How have you been dealing with it? It's been hard to let go of gigs, but as far as being up on stage and sharing good things with people, it personally feels good to pause and quietly work on writing and learning so if the time comes when we can perform again, I can bring something fresh and hopeful to a room. I'm happy to turn the page past the Salt chapter of my career. It's been successful and I don’t know what success looks like next, but it will be new and different.
What’s next for you? It’s nice to release this EP as a little bridge to the next record. I just want to make another album and put myself into it. It’s a while off and I haven’t finished writing it, let alone recording and all the rest. I’ll probably release singles gradually as it feels right, but no plans yet!