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Amen Dunes Explains His Quote About Not Collaborating with Women

Amen Dunes songwriter Damon McMahon has published a statement responding to recent criticism of comments he made in 2014. In a 2014 interview with No Fear of Pop, McMahon said that he couldn’t see himself collaborating with women because “I don’t think my energy would work with that.” Even within the context of his Love album cycle, the quote seemed pretty out-of-touch, and in a new statement addressing the incident, McMahon says that his reluctance to work with women has to do with sexual abuse he faced from two adult women as a young boy.

Earlier this week, a Twitter user in Minnesota pointed out the quote to writer and former SPIN journalist Jessica Hopper, who in a series of tweets already expressing her distaste for McMahon’s music, wrote “Wow, collaborating with women being ‘not my vibe’ is kind of a bold yet totally primitive stance for Amen Dunes to voice as a critical darling of 2018.” Hopper’s tweet has since been deleted, but appears to be in reference to acclaim for Amen Dunes’ 2018 album Freedom. With fame comes increased scrutiny, and McMahon says that he’s faced other negative reactions in the days since the interview was recirculated.

In a new post on Facebook and Twitter, McMahon now says that his answer “was not phrased well” within the context. “At that time I did not feel it appropriate, nor was I healed enough, to explain my reason in detail,” he says, going on to explain how the project “became a form of my own therapy” in a way that influenced his decision not to collaborate with women. He writes:

In response to opinions made on social media:

This is not something I have ever felt comfortable saying to more than a close circle of people. Uncomfortable as this is, I believe it is the right thing to do.

My response in that 2014 interview can be seen here in full. I realize without giving context, my answer was not phrased well. At that time I did not feel it appropriate, nor was I healed enough, to explain my reason in detail.

What I meant by my response was I did not feel comfortable having a woman in the band, at that time, and my reason is as follows:

Two different adult women sexually abused me throughout my adolescence, from about 9 until I was 18. When I finally reached an age where I gained enough courage to begin to acknowledge what happened to me, Amen Dunes became a form of my own therapy. It was the one safe space I had to explore the feelings and the trauma from childhood, and to start to try and reclaim my identity and sexuality as a man.

Recovery from this kind of trauma is slow, and required, in the beginning, creating a neutral space for the work to be made in, where I could redefine my own personal sense of masculinity with honesty, vulnerability, and self-inquiry. At the time of that interview I did not feel comfortable collaborating with a woman as I was still in the early stages of this process.


Amen Dunes’ latest album Freedom was released in March, and was one of our favorite albums of 2018, with the track “Miki Dora” also appearing on our list of the year’s best songs. Read his statements from Twitter and Facebook below and revisit our Q&A with McMahon here.