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Angie McMahon hopes Grampians Music Festival makes her dreams come true

Picture this; it’s mid-February in Victoria. You’ve taken the weekend to whisk yourself away to the Grampians National park, but not for a hike – for a music festival. 

It’s warm and sunny in Halls Gap, and there’s mountain ranges everywhere you turn, jutting out majestically against the clear blue sky. With a beer in one hand and some tasty food truck grub in the other, you’re kicking back and gearing up to catch sets from the likes of Slum Sociable, Wafia and Sampa The Great.

Not much could improve your current situation – except maybe a swimming pool, according to Angie McMahon. 

“I wonder if there is like a swimming place at the Grampians festival, that’d be sick,” she wonders out loud. “I might just hit them up and tell them to dig a swimming pool.” 

Beat are chatting to the Melbourne songstress about her upcoming appearance at the Grampians Music Festival, which will be her official return to work next year. McMahon has just wrapped up her last show for 2018 and is looking forward to a well-deserved break, although she’s not really used to having downtime. 

“It’s winding down now which is nice,” she says of her busy schedule. “But it’s also that weird thing of when you have a quiet couple of weeks and you don’t really know what to do with yourself.

“I’ve been desperate for downtime and now I’m like ‘what should I be doing?’” she cuts off with a laugh. “You don’t really know how to stop working or something.” 

It’s been a busy 12 months for McMahon, who’s been hitting up stages around the country and overseas, playing headline shows and the festival circuit. No stranger to big music events, she scored spots on both the Laneway and Splendour In The Grass lineups, as well as playing alongside Paul Kelly this month for Making Gravy. She admits it’s all been pretty awesome, and she’s played some great shows, but there’s something about the idea of playing the Grampians Music Festival that has her particularly excited. 

“I actually haven’t been to the Grampians, but I’m stoked,” she gushes. “I know that it’s beautiful because I have friends who go there just for holidays to relax and I’ve googled it and it looks amazing. And the lineup is great; I think it’s going to be really beautiful.” 

With only one stage for the whole weekend, it means there’s no risk of set clashes and missing out on acts you want to see. For McMahon, this means she might actually get the chance to catch her friends perform or watch artists she admires, which is something she rarely has the time to do anymore. 

“I think it’s going to be a friend festival,” she says. “I feel like it’s a selection of people who I just love and want to hang out with and watch their gigs. ‘Cause, you know, it’s been busy this year, I haven’t actually been watching as many of my friend’s gigs as I would like to, so I’m looking forward to that. Just checking in with everyone’s live show and just enjoying it.” 

As well as a lineup full of her friends, such as Jade Imagine and Body Type’s Cecil Coleman, McMahon is also grateful to be included on a bill that has managed to be so wonderfully inclusive. 

“The artists they’ve programmed are so nice and diverse,” she says. “there’s all these women and people of colour which is so nice that it makes me want to cry because I’m like this is what it should be, this is beautiful.

“We’ve got so many interesting acts that aren’t just white people and dudes and I just love it so much when a programmer makes a conscious effort to do that, because that’s like the future we want to see. I’m a woman but I’m still a white person, [but] it’s really nice to feel like you’re playing the festivals or the places that are doing that, because you feel like you’re doing a good thing, being part of a change.” 

For a musician familiar with the frantic energy of the festival scene, McMahon says events like Grampians are a breath of fresh air. Not only do they tick important boxes such as supporting local musicians and prioritising diverse lineups, but they generate a community atmosphere, something much more unified than the usual weekend benders. 

“Festivals sometimes can be hard for me because often the punters… I don’t really know how to say it, you know people are just really fucked up?” she says carefully. “Sometimes it’s like on another level, and when you’re playing, you’re having such a different experience with the people in the crowd.

“But I feel like there’s certain festival set ups that feel really community focused, so everything feels really friendly. And you can kind of feel that from a crowd, you can feel when everyone feels welcome and everyone feels cheerful.” 

McMahon doesn’t really have a bad word to say about her scheduled performance, and pokes fun at herself upon realising this. 

“I’m really just projecting my dreams onto this festival,” she says with a laugh. 

Here’s hoping Grampians makes her festival dreams come true. 

Catch Angie McMahon in Halls Gap for Grampians Music Festival, from Friday February 15 to Sunday February 17. Check out the festival website for tickets and the full lineup.