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#7 FREE RANGE MOUNTAIN CLIMBER

Angie Colman and band - L to R: Sarah Curran (guitar), Kieran Barnes (bass), Angie Colman (vocals and guitar), Jamie Turner (keys), Miles Gilbert (drums). Photo by Robin Bottrell.
Angie Colman and band - L to R: Sarah Curran (guitar), Kieran Barnes (bass), Angie Colman (vocals and guitar), Jamie Turner (keys), Miles Gilbert (drums). Photo by Robin Bottrell.

THE SHORT SHIZ

  • Early career stage musician from Boorloo/Perth.
  • Has a degree in politics – Her Grandma made her do it.
  • Credits SpongeBob SquarePants with inspiring her to begin writing songs at the age of four.
  • Makes country tinged pop and plays it hard every weekend with her band or solo.
  • Recorded her first EP when she was 18, hasn’t released it…yet.
  • Has two splendid tracks on Spotify – Read on to get the link, follow her so you’ll be first to know when she releases more.
  • Will she make the big time? YES/NO/WTF KNOWS.

THE LONG SHIZ

As hangovers go, it wasn’t the worst I’ve observed. The consequences of an evening of some mild debauchery and wise decision making afterwards made Angie Colman late to our meeting. Well, OK, she is a musician. But at least she turned up. At least she let me know she would be arriving a little past the hour. In my experience, those who can’t manage their intoxicants of choice and/or their time are destined to a life of some successes but overall failure. Not Colman. She has success written all over her.

“I’m going to play Glastonbury one day soon,” Colman told me when I asked where she thinks she’s headed with her career. There was nothing hedging about her statement, it was completely matter of fact. I had no reason not to believe her, but I did ask how she would get there.

At one stage during our conversation we talked about her mullet. Dirty blonde and in the highest of fashion, I suggested to Colman that her locks reminded me of those of Paul and Linda, whose faces looked at me all morning from her t-shirt.

“When I was a girl, all cuteness and blonde hair, people didn’t take me that seriously,” Colman said after shrugging off my comparison with the McCartneys. “That was partly because I was young and giggly, and, yes, partly because I was female. People don’t write me off so easily anymore.”

There’s a reason for that. Just as there’s a reason that Colman is one of the fastest rising stars among the ranks of the Perth music scene. She’s very good at what she does and, though some industry powerbrokers might still want to write her off as young, blonde and, worst of all, female, she’s no pushover. This is a woman who knows where she’s going and, on the back of only two releases to date, is filling just about every venue Perth has to offer its independent, original artists.

My first sighting of Colman was at Fremantle’s Aardvark, a venue about to close its doors and pass into legend. Until we talked about that night, I’d forgotten who Colman and her trusty Godin were opening for, but I hadn’t forgotten her. She owned the stage like few can and invited the early comers into her songs and, in their minds, into her life. But the thing I found most intriguing about her stage presence was her reserve. When Colman is up there she’s not one of us, and that’s exactly what we need from our bards and rock stars. They must lead separate lives, otherwise the illusion doesn’t work. Somehow, Colman knew this. It may have been instinct, but I’d go so far as to say that it was also careful planning. Angie Colman is no accidental tourist.

“I like that you saw that,” Colman said when we reflected on that night, “no one had said that about me before, and I think you’re right. What I write about, it’s like a conversation between me and the audience, but I don’t often write about my own life. I mean, my lyrics come from my experiences and my observations, but my songs aren’t about me. I try to leave space for the audience to see themselves in my songs.

“I was one of the last free-range kids. I grew up in Kalamunda and we roamed around the neighbourhood just being…free. The worst thing that ever happened to me was when Mum gave me a moped when I was sixteen, just for going back and forward to work, only a few blocks. I took my friend out on it late on Christmas eve eve and she was riding it when the cops appeared behind us. She panicked and pulled into the school car park and they stopped us and asked to see our licences. I pulled out my learners… When the cops took me home they didn’t know that Mum was in on the whole thing, so she promised to give me a good telling off for stealing her moped. After they left we just laughed. Mum is still one of my biggest supporters, she comes to most of my gigs.”

You can lead a carefree life and still see the sadness and the injustice in the everyday. That’s part of Colman’s charm, she carries herself like an ingénue, but she’s as smart and as calculated as they come. Some in the industry are going to get tripped up by that and I can’t wait to see it happen.

“I’m going to play Glastonbury one day soon,” Colman told me when I asked where she thinks she’s headed with her career. There was nothing hedging about her statement, it was completely matter of fact. I had no reason not to believe her, but I did ask how she would get there.

“I feel like I’m at base camp at the moment,” said Colman, “which is no small achievement. I’m also planning to head to Sydney soon, to check out the scene, do some networking, do a co-write and maybe play some shows. Beyond that, I’m not sure yet, but I know I’m on my way.”

We reflected that neither of us had ever climbed a mountain, laughed at the ridiculousness of even hills, but the analogy is accurate. In a few short months, Colman has already achieved just about everything she ever could in Perth, so it’s time to bust out before she gets trapped in the cycle of filling venues to the great acclaim of bookers whose main job is to bring in punters to drink beer. That’s how the ecosystem works, so it feels rare to see a talented artist like Colman set their sights on other things. Maybe someone should help Perth’s musicians, provide a conduit into other markets?

Or maybe atrophy is an essential part of helping cream rise to the top, that one or two per cent of the genuinely good stuff? Whatever the case, I have no doubt that Colman will find her way and maybe that’s all that matters. Music is a beautiful, essential part of our culture, but no one ever said that the industry that both supports and stifles musicians needs to be in any way altruistic.

Based on her latest merch design, I came into our conversation expecting that Colman would be a horse lover, so I asked her. She laughed and laughed and then laughed some more, before saying, “No, but I do like chess.”

On my way home, driving along the actual highway to hell, I saw a middle-aged bogan sitting in the spring sunshine at a bus stop wearing a black AC/DC hoodie and for a moment I was overwhelmed by the contradiction that is Perth. Then I thought of Colman, also sitting at a bus stop reading a book and waiting for her ride to Scarborough so she could pick up the car she’d had to leave behind the night before. Smart.

Look forward to seeing you at Glastonbury, Angie.

Angie Colman puts her childhood love of horses on the line

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