Independent Artist of the Week: Agum
October 31st 2022
Agum’s new single ‘Say It’ opens with a plucked guitar and tape hiss, coloured with a warmth not out of place in a Lianne La Havas track. Her wavering voice joins after a few measures: “Tell me, tell me the truth – did you really mean the words you said?” It’s a fitting introduction to Agum’s musical world, full of direct and inviting honesty. Agum is our Independent Artist of the Week, and she joined Lill Scott on Up For It! to talk about authenticity, her songwriting process, and to give a live on-air performance of ‘Say It’.
Agum first picked up the guitar at 14, and was writing songs as soon as she knew her first few chords. Her process has always been immediate and personal.
“For me, writing is really an expression of my heart. It’s what I’m either pondering or the experience that I’m going through at that period of time. And so most of the time, [the lyrics] come really quick, just because of the authenticity, it’s really just me expressing myself and putting words to what it is that I’m feeling in the moment. So I basically pick up my guitar, and just sing my heart out. And somehow that makes sense in song form.”
And that authenticity oozes out of her wavering voice – all the more surprising, considering that ‘Say It’ is only her second single. Both ‘Say It’ and her preceding single ‘Fragile Heart’ detail the end of the same relationship:
“I wrote ‘Fragile Heart’ a little earlier on. Because I guess we broke up twice in a relationship… We’re not together anymore. But yeah, same person.”
“I think for me, what always hits [in ‘Say It’] is when I sing ”You don’t love me’. It’s really simple. But for those words to be said, or for you to come to the realisation that someone probably doesn’t love you… it cuts deep.”
It’s not hard to believe how genuine each lyric is. Agum’s voice is tender, almost shaking – like she’s nervous to sing, but she’s determined to share what’s raw and real. But that’s the only way that she knows:
Lill: “It’s so raw and intimate… It feels like I’m reading your journal. How does it feel putting so much of yourself into your music and then sharing it with other people?”
Agum: “I think for me, that’s just what flows naturally. And so I just just told my story… I was really nervous putting it out in the world, because it is very, very intimate and very raw. And so putting it out was a bit nerve racking, but to see people find their story within that, the same song, that’s what’s really beautiful. And that’s what I desire to do through the stories that I’m telling and songs that I write, for people to find themselves in it, in whatever situation they might be going through too.”
Agum has toured with Cap Carter, Bella Taylor Smith and Delta Goodrem. She’s building a reputation (and catalogue to prove it) of being Australia’s newest Soul Queen. Check out her live on-air performance of ‘Say It’ below.