If you’ve ever heard an Angie McMahon song, then you’ve heard just how big her voice can be, and how cleverly she can craft a phrase. In person, though, she’s more soft-spoken, her words carefully chosen—the former due to a compromised immune system thanks to a pretty hectic touring schedule. Not that McMahon’s complaining.
The Australian singer-songwriter is on one of her rare (for now, at least) visits to the United States, where she just wrapped her first U.S. tour, which included several headlining gigs, a stop at South by Southwest, and—no big deal—opening for the Pixies in Knoxville. “We had a gig in Nashville that was a headlining show and it was really chill—it was a cool little venue which are the most fun to play,” she said. “And then we drove three hours to Knoxville to open for the Pixies at the Tennessee theater, which is this giant old cinema from the ‘20s. It was amazing. I’ve found the crowds really attentive. The hardest gig that we’ve played was the Australian South By showcase, because Australians are very chatty. That took a lot of energy. But mostly, the crowds have been so nice. The crowds in Australia differ based on what city you are in; some are drunk and rowdy, some are silent. Here I’ve found them to be super supportive.”
If you didn’t get the chance to check out McMahon during this particular tour—or if you’ve never even heard of her at all, that’s soon about to change. Today, she’ll roll out her latest U.S.-released single, the crowd favorite “Slow Mover,” making the States aware of what Australia already knew: McMahon is music’s next big thing.
Now in her mid-twenties, McMahon has been playing music since she was a teenager. “I started covering pop songs,” she explained. “I was really obsessed with female single-songwriters, but I would also cover like Maroon 5 or Bon Iver. I started uploading them to the Internet, and thank God they are taken down now, because they were not good. I just really love doing that in school, and I started taking singing lessons which didn’t last very long. After I left school, I joined a soul band and that was really good practice to play gigs and learn how to deal with crowds. I got sick of being around boys and the loudness, so I went back to doing my own thing.”
Over the past few years, she’s released a string of singles in her home country, and toured the area several times over. Soon, she’ll release her first full album, to be named Salt, which by McMahon’s own account, has been a long time in the making. “I wanted to take my time with making a record, so some of those songs are written a year or three ago. I feel like they’ve lived several lives,” she said. “It was probably a good thing, because it gave me time to feel good about my decisions. Because this is my first record, I didn’t want to fuck it up or rush it.”
Fans of the singer are already familiar with some of the songs that will appear on the album, including last year’s “Missing Me” and crowd favorite “Pasta,” which McMahon has taken to introducing by simply saying, “This is a song about pasta.”
“It’s about being tired and being down on yourself, but it’s easier for me to be like, ‘This a song about pasta.’” McMahon clarified with a laugh. “Now it’s a joke, though, so I should probably dial it back and be like, ‘I’m a serious songwriter.’ But it’s good to have humor. Even this industry can be sort of harrowing and I don’t want to lose this sense of humor that I have in my writing.”
She’s also trying to keep her stamina up, as well, thanks to a pretty busy schedule leading up to the album that includes a European tour and a stop at London’s All Points East festival alongside The Strokes and Interpol. “I’m trying not to get too burnt out,” she said. Luckily, there’s nothing like the adrenaline of releasing your first album—and what comes next—to keep you going. “I want to give this one away and have people enjoy it,” she said. “I’m ready to pass it on, so I can wash the slate clean creatively. And I’m excited to write new ones.”