At The Bar with Australian singer/songwriter Angie McMahon who talks making her sophomore and hunt for a quality non-alcoholic wine

Melbourne singer/songwriter Angie McMahon returns with her second studio album Light, Dark, Light Again. She leans into her obsession with 80s synths [think drums inspired by Foreigner and Bruce Springsteen] while also exploring big guitars and vocal expression that’s a shot away from Florence and the Machine and Angel Olsen.

She also heads  to the USA to collaborate with strangers for a new experience.

“Almost every song I’ve written was born in this city of Melbourne,” says Angie McMahon.

“My friends and community here have encouraged me to write more, to finish songs, and to believe in them. Some of the record was made at Treehouse Studios in Pakenham Upper, which is such a beautiful area and really sparked some of my favourite moments on the record. From the rehearsal rooms to the walks along Darebin Creek and Merri Creek and the Yarra, to the bird sounds and cups of tea shared with my friends – this whole place just lives in the music for me,” she says.

The new album was recorded between regional Victoria and the North Carolina town of Durham.

McMahon worked alongside Grammy-nominated producer and songwriter Brad Cook, who has previously produced for the likes of Bon Iver, Waxahatchee, Kevin Morby and Snail Mail.

Completing the studio band was Bon Iver’s drummer Matt McCaughan, Canadian singer-songwriter Leif Vollebekk and Megafaun musician Phil Cook.

McMahon talks about three new songs on the album and what inspired them

Divine Fault Line: This one was the first co-write that I really loved, and it was with Emma Louise in LA. We wrote it in a day, she was so lovely to flow with. We were both coming out of pretty hard chapters, wanting to write about the good things that come out of a big shift or loss. We were inspired by the song ‘I Love You Always Forever’ and tried to create the feeling that your angels are coming to pick you up and encourage you to keep moving. I was at a point with writing the record where I really wanted to bring the positivity in, and she helped bring humour and lightness into it. Emma is like an angel to me.

Serotonin: This song started with the breath that pulses in the background. I was sitting at the piano one night and couldn’t concentrate because an alarm was going off in the street, just this constant single beeping, and eventually it became the beat in my head that lulled me into a flow state. The song is about the difficult physical experience of coming off antidepressants and navigating a tricky season of physical and mental health. I wanted it to feel like an uphill run, with an insistent push and a new level of sound and colour reached every verse or chorus. It was fun to make, played on an acoustic rubber bridge baritone that Brad [Cook – who co-produced the album] has, and I think Lars (mixing engineer) really got it over the line and helped finish the vision.

Mother Nature: This song was born from a poem I wrote, watching a murmuration of birds above my house, which reminded me of how beautiful it is to create change and move in harmony with each other. The line ‘flocks of birds, changing form, from a wave, to a fist, to a storm’ felt like it could be about climate activists marching in the street, so it kind of turned into a protest song. I tried to embody Mother Nature and all the rage and power she’d express if she could speak in our language. The sonic world of it was inspired by a song ‘Dandelions’ by Florence and the Machine, which I fell in love with as soon as I heard it.

MY CITY

Melbourne/Naarm; it is home to so many branches of music and community, food and friends. It is where most of my memories and family live. I love the rivers and gum trees all through the city, and the way the air feels and the water tastes when I get home from travelling.

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY

Italian dinner at Ti Amo’s in Carlton with my family.

FAVOURITE BAR MEMORY

Watermelon granita at Pellegrini’s – if you know, you know.

DRINK THAT DESCRIBES YOU

Iced Turmeric Latte – best served caffeine and alcohol free. It’s anti-inflammatory and it wants to be refreshing, but it isn’t always, and some people do not get it. When it’s good, it’s really good. When it’s bad, there’s too much gunk and crap at the end of the mouthful.

BEST HANGOVER CURE

I don’t really drink these days, but I love a shot of straight ginger juice for nausea in the morning.

BEST INTERSTATE BAR

Ivy Joyce in Barham, NSW. It’s owned by beautiful people serving beautiful local stuff.

FAVOURITE WINE

I’m still looking for a really good non-alcoholic wine…please recommend if you have one!

FAVOURITE WINERY

Feathertop Winery in Porepunkah, near Bright. It was so fancy and yum, and the view there is beautiful.

NEXT DESTINATION

After my album is released, I’m going to take a couple days off and go camping. Have to get away from my phone! Last time I got away I got into making really good campfire food, so I’m going to head to a river somewhere and do that I hope.

BEST ADVICE EVER

I’ve been getting my life advice from this little pocket book of Pema Chodron quotes. These are maybe a couple of the key ideas:

“Without honesty and love and kindness for ourselves, it is difficult, if not impossible, to genuinely feel it for others”

AND

“Healing comes from letting go.”

 

 

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