We could all afford to be a bit more like Thelma Plum. The newly Melbourne-based Gamilaraay woman has learned some lessons about forgiveness and letting go of anger over the past few years, and she's feeling a lot better for it. It's definitely a lesson we could all afford to take onboard—luckily, Plum is today releasing "Not Angry Anymore", a track about growing into yourself and letting go of past resentments.
"Not Angry Anymore" is the second single from Plum's body of work that will be released later this year, after last year's sparkling "Clumsy Love", which recently came in at #79 on triple j's Hottest 100. The song's video, directed by Her Sound, Her Story's Claudia Dallimore and premiering on Noisey today, finds Plum dancing around (and trashing) a house in beautifully carefree fashion. It's a vibe that's very indicative of where the young singer-songwriter is at right now: Thelma Plum has gotten past the bullshit and is thriving for it.
We called Plum to talk about "Not Angry Anymore" and her forthcoming record, as well what she's learned in the five long years since releasing her Monsters EP. Watch "Not Angry Anymore" above and read the full interview below.
NOISEY: “Not Angry Anymore” centres around this idea that we’re all just in the process of learning about ourselves and each other; what kinda led you to that idea?
Thelma Plum: I remember, when I wrote this song I was in a relationship and I was having a bit of a hard time, and I just felt like towards the end of it I had a lot of anger and a lot of resentment towards this person, for whatever reason. But when you’re so angry a lot of the time, the person that’s hurting the most is you. I just got to a place where I decided that I had to make a decision not to hold onto the anger and resentment anymore, for my own self-preservation.
This year it’ll be five years since you released your last EP. How do you think your approach to making music—and life in general—has changed in that time?
I was still a teenager when I last released music. It’s been a long time. The way I write… there’s still similarities. The older you get the more you learn, and I don’t want to sound corny but I’ve grown as a musician and also as a human and as a woman. It is a bit different to how I used to write. When I was younger… I didn’t touch on a lot of subjects. On my new album I think a lot about being a Blak woman and I think that’s something that, when I was a teenager, I didn’t feel like I knew how to say it. With time I’ve kinda taught myself.
What changed in that time to allow you to tap into that?
Trauma? Can I say that? [laughs] Just life, life happens. Sometimes life can be really hard and can feel really shitty, but it trains us and it makes us stronger, as corny as that sounds. I guess with everything bad that happens, it makes me more resilient.
I saw you’ve been writing with Paul Kelly and Dave Le’aupepe and A.B. Original—how was that collaborative process?
I love all of them separately. Briggs & Trials, that was for their stuff, which I’ve done a few times. I love everything about them, they’re like family to me. Dave and Paul, we just—at separate times—met up. With Paul Kelly, I went to his house, and he’s my absolute favourite. He’s lot of the reason I wanted to become a songwriter and play music, so that was an absolute dream for me. We just sat around and wrote this song that I’m really happy with. That was probably enough for me to be like ‘I’m good, I don’t need to make any more music now!’
With Dave, he’s amazing. He’s just a really really special human, and you just kinda don’t forget him once you meet him. On the day of the Four Corners piece about the Don Dale boys, and I was feeling pretty heavy and Dave was too, and we just felt like we should write something about it. I love writing songs for my people and about my people, and it was pretty powerful and pretty sad and pretty special.
Dave is so inspiring because he’s pretty much the most famous rock star in Australia but he’s also just the most vocal, outspoken person of colour in music. Do you think, over the past few years, things have changed for Blak people and people of colour in music?
You know what I’ll say? I think people care more about how it looks to care about Aboriginal people and people of colour. I do think that it’s gotten a lot better, but every single day I deal with [racist] stuff. I would like to think that everyone in my industry is on the same page with Aboriginal people but… I don’t know.
Thelma Plum's "Not Angry Anymore" is on streaming services now. Find Thelma's tour dates here.