Angie McMahon Knows She’s “Pissed Off” Men In The Music Industry — But That Won’t Stop Her From Speaking Out

A Naarm/Melbourne-based singer-songwriter and musician, Angie McMahon is one to watch. Her latest album release 'Light, Dark, Light Again' hit record stores last October, and since then, she's catapulted into the Australian mainstream music sphere, selling out shows at the Sydney Opera House (twice!) and embarking on a huge Australian tour, as well as an international tour for European summer.
A breath of fresh air in the Australian music scene, the artist has recently used her newfound hype in Triple J's Like A Version, covering Australian Crawl's 'Reckless'… with a twist. Instead of sticking to the original 1983 lyrics, McMahon instead decided to change them to reflect the increasing environmental disasters and violence in the world. Lyric changes include: "Another natural disaster fries the Great Barrier Reef", and "Blowing up entire bloodlines, we want to own the land we found."
For McMahon, the decision to change an iconic Australian band's lyrics was a daunting one, but one she felt that she needed to do as an artist with even a little bit of influence.
"Some of the biggest changes in the world that have happened have come from songs and I find that really inspiring," McMahon tells Refinery29 Australia. "I'm not an artist who has that much reach, but I just feel that I want to play a part in the changing of things. And I think things should change. So I want to sing about it."
"It felt like something that needed to come out of my mouth," she continues. "I feel really devastated when I think about the way that we treat nature, particularly politicians and big business. I think particularly right now, there's a lot of frustration at, for lack of a better phrase, like the man in power. The big decision makers."

"Music should be used as a platform for change."

Angie McMahon on using music as activism
McMahon says that it's hard to be a touring artist with the knowledge that you inherently impact the environment by adding to your carbon footprint. She also struggles with asking for people's money and support with the world feeling very "messed up". But she says that her bravery came from another Melbourne-based alternative rock band fronted by women — Camp Cope, which has since disbanded.
"A lot of my bravery in the past has come from just being like, oh, Camp Cope did that, so I can do that," McMahon says of her scary decision to play the song on Australia's largest youth media station. "But my feeling is just that, where it makes sense, music should be used as a platform for change.
While it shouldn't be a rare feat, seeing a woman succeed in the Australian music industry is a big deal, especially when they're surrounded by twenty-odd Sticky Fingers-esque boy bands. McMahon knows people in the industry might not be happy with her — but that won't stop her. "I think I have pissed people off in the music industry," she tells us.
"Changing the lyrics to a classic Australian song... I didn't want to offend the original band," McMahon laughs. "I did kind of want to offend some people though, because there's people that need to be offended."
"The thing that I struggle with the most is always my anxiety," she continues. "Like, you should have seen me 24 hours before we recorded that thing. I was like a mess."
Reflecting on the Australian music industry as a whole, McMahon says that while she has experienced some "really lovely success and momentum", she struggles with the patriarchal systems at play.
"A lot of the decision makers are men, and a lot of the voices that 'make it' are men — whether it's artists or the big companies," she explains. "There's still a very patriarchal structure happening and that's really frustrating to witness because there's a lot of music that doesn't make it into the mainstream or doesn't get platformed that's from queer artists, people of colour, Indigenous artists. Yes, women, but also not necessarily me — [I'm] a white woman who comes from a privileged background."
The Australian music industry is already struggling, with Australia's largest music festival and cultural icon 'Splendour in the Grass' being cancelled for 2024.

I wanted to create a musical weighted blanket for myself in the moments that I was making it.

Angie McMahon on 'Light, Dark, Light Again'
McMahon describes 'Light, Dark, Light Again' as a "musical weighted blanket", delivering on its promises to calm and ease listeners thanks to a cacophony of soothing instrumentals and a deep inward look into the brain — and the state of our mental health.
"I wanted to create a musical weighted blanket for myself in the moments that I was making it," she explains. "I really needed to summon some self-compassion and that became a big essential pillar of the record."
"I use a lot of metaphors to help myself understand feelings, and I think of them as big ocean waves, and I wanted those waves to be as loving as possible."
When it comes to the reception to the album, McMahon tells us that the endeavour of sharing her music with the world has made her feel "less alone". "It's felt quite colourful," she says of the positive feedback to the album. "There's been so many responses and interactions that I didn't dream to have."
"I've had so many people share the record and what it's meant to them, and that's been so lovely," she continues. "I was really going through it… so it makes me feel less alone."
Angie McMahon's 'Making It Through' tour is happening across Australia now. You can buy tickets here.
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