4 years after her first eponymous album, Georgia, the UK singer/songwriter/producer is coming back with a « wicked and bold » album, Seeking Thrills !
With her edgy festive sounds, Georgia will invite you to live a real experience.
So, « Ladies … and gentlemen, look at the thrill ! » and join the community of the thrill seekers !
Seeking Thrills will be released January 10th 2020 and Georgia will start her tour in the same time. She will perform at the Badaboum in Paris, on February the 11th.
Thanks to Georgia
Photos : Hollie Fernando and Joseph Connor
Many Thanks to Jenifer / Domino Records
Interview : <strong>Renaud Velin</strong>
- Since the release of your first eponymous album 4 years ago, you have worked a lot in studio on new sounds and on your next album that will be released on January 10th. You have already released 3 singles, one of them, About Work The Dancefloor received the PopJustice Twenty Music Quid Award, last September. You’ve done a lot of concerts this year, solo and/or in the first part of world tours of artists like Metronomy, Phantoms, Franz Ferdinand & Interpol. So, you, who are seeking for thrills, I think you found a lot ! How do you feel after an intense year like this ?
I feel very happy, I think things have gone totally in the right direction. People are starting to coming to my world. The music starts to really connect with people and it feels just really exciting. I am a worker, whatever I do, I put my all into it. I really want this to be a success and I want to just keep going and jumping up to the next level, so it just takes a lot of work. I prepared for this. 2 years ago, I became a vegan, I stopped drinking, got myself into shape, I started to care about my health, to be my best possible self. So I prepared for this year mentally and physically but I had no expectations at the beginning when Started Out came out, I had no idea what it is gonna do. I mean you always dream this type of things to happen but I guess it just happened. And so many nice things happened to me since then ! I still have to maintain that things of life. Whatever happen next year, it will happen what happens but I just will try to keep it going in the right direction. So yes, I feel good and I will keep it that in mind for the next crazy year.
- Your first eponymous album, Georgia was an experimental and personal presentation of who you are, your universe and all your musical influences. Seeking Thrills keeps this spirit but fully in a more festive atmosphere and a desire to open to others with always atypical and percussive sounds. Like a desire to let go, get thrilled and to be bold ! That is literally the message of this album, no ? Tell us, the genesis of this album.
You completely got it. As you said, the first album was very experimental. I went in to that record not really knowing at the goal of what was gonna happen. I just knew that I need to express myself in some way, shape or form. I knew how to be in a record but I didn’t know the direction I wanna take. Everything just came out of me. And so after the first record came out, I really knew I needed to take it to the next level and I saw the fact it was a little bit too experimental for people, it was hard to digest in a way. I mean I love this record, I love the sounds on it and I still think it is in tune with the times. For example, I heard Billie Eilish track the other day who I really love and I was thinking « oh my god, it is like the sounds of my record », I had the good sounds but it couldn’t find his place. I really knew that and analyzed it. So I knew exactly what I was going to do for the second album. I went straight back at the studio, sat there for a couple of months and figured out of what I like and don’t like from the first album and knowing of what I am going to do for the next one. And then I basically researched the album like I am almost doing an academic paper. I was listening to a lot of Depeche Mode, Kate Bush, Prince, etc … this moment in time, early in the eighties where you had this incredible output of amazing pop music. There was very out there and all going to be number 1 and that was a really important moment in pop music because now you won’t have these songs number 1 again, people will find it weird pop songs. So I wanted to know more about this and where they were taking their influences. I traced all the music and it came to Chicago house and Detroit techno. That all early eighties period in America were disco suddenly emerges in kind of electro house and I just absolutely loved it. For about 6 months, I was listening Chicago house and Detroit techno trying to understand it, trying make it and to babying in the power of that music and then I researched culturally the significant of that mouvement. I came to the conclusion that actually these undergound scenes were some of the most important music scenes of an era. And I saw a lot of similarities with the society by then as the society is now. The importance is based on underground dance scenes for people to find their community, for the people to find their identity, for the people to explore an identity, to explore all sorts of things and I thought « wow they were complitely head of their time, this is what’s going on now ». I just saw this all musical journey, the goes back to Chicago house and Detroit techno and I sat the conclusion I think they might be the most important music scenes of the 20th century because you can trace mainstream pop music in all countries now to them, the sound of it, the look of it, the lyrics, these people dont really get the credit that they deserved. So I guess for me who is a child as well of the UK rave scene, my dad (Neil Barnes) was in Leftfield group in same time of the Chemical Borthers and this underworld scene in London, the dance world seemed to be very familiar to me. It seemed that is why I cared so much it’s because it is part of my history, part of who I am. And so then, it became very clear the direction of the new record. I knew basically what I was gonna make, a pop record that had its roots in these sounds from the eighties. And as soon as I thought this direction, all the songs just came out. It was a long process, it took maybe a year and a half, routine work in the studio while like I said, cleaning myself up to become clear in my mind of the best way to get this album out and now when I look at these collection of songs and look at this record, I say to myself it was a real life changing process and it was really an enjoyable process. I learned a lot about song writing, I learned a lot about production, I learned so much about music and it was what I liked to achieve in a way. There is still a lot of things to work on and that is why I love music and my job. I love learning and I learned so much about music. A lot happened to me in this process. I feel I got a good understanding of that early eighties period in America and now I find myself more and more in the dance scene, working with people who really respected from Chicago and I feel really proud of that because as I said, I think dance music is the most important music phenomena of an era. It goes across all sorts of class, gender, people, it is really one of the most important form of music and I feel proud to be part of that.
- You give us thrills by starting the album with three very festive songs (Started Out, About Work The Dancefloor, Never Let You Go) but you also composed more soft and melancolic songs in this album, always with an offbeat touch or a musical break who surprise us, who shake us (Ultimate Sailor, Honey Dripping Sky, The Thrill…). Your point is that we can have emotions and thrills even in more melancholic melodies with deeper thoughts, right ?
Yes ! I never wanna do a record that just sounds only one gender, that’s not me really. It can’t be just one thing of the same thing, I want people to have other things to explore and listen in the same record. Part of me during that period was a little bit melancholic in the fact that I saw how things happening politically, there was so many issues in London which I found very sad and change in a negative way and yes I guess I expressed it in a couple of songs. I have always loved Kate Bush really, she sets an example, for me, of light albums with deeper thoughts. I think when she speaks about love she really how get say it right : the melancholic versus the euphoria. For me that’s an interesting approach and very inspiring. There is a part of me is quite melancholic you know and I like that about songs and I like that about song writing. I never thought this really but this record was almost like a bit of therapy for me because it was cutting out the drinking and heavy things in my life. I had to sort of replace it with creativity. I guess in a way some of that is quite dark and it was quite a personal reflexion to achieve these songs. So yes we can find light and hopeful feelings in dark songs. I think now more so than ever like people just want more truth. They want something out there more and breaking the mold. Maybe it is quite an interesting time for pop music where we gonna see a lot more of people exploring darker things really.
- With the featuring of Shygirl in Mellow, you claim your assertive taste for hip hop and with The Thrill you celebrate the house music sounds. This song begins softly as a ballad then you put in the middle of it, a deep house beat with the deep voice of Maurice and suddenly we are on a dancefloor in a club in Chicago. Tell us about the desire to invite these two artists on your album and what do you retain from these collaborations ?
With Shygirl, I heard her and I just thought « wow she is just amazing ! », her music is very unique, she got this incredible edgy voice which can be in hip hop and/or dance music. That is really interesting, it is quite old school almost like listening to Afrika Bambaataa or listening to like old school hip hop guys who are really influenced by techno. So I really got that with her. My friend Quest who helped me to find a feature for that song, talked to me about her and after listening to her music, I wanted to do it with her. She came to the studio, she heard the tune, we talked about what is going to be about. The song is about this very hedonistic sort of drinking trip to Tenerife turns into a very dark trip and she said « oh I have been on trips like that so let’s do it ! » And we did ! We had fun and made a very good song together. I made this record about a 2 year period and within that period, I have done a collaborative project with AFRICA EXPRESS which is sort ran by Damon Albarn. It is a project where they invite artists and producers from the west to go to Africa and to collaborate with african producers and artists and made this collaborative record. Before that, I never really collaborated with anyone, I never really knew the idea of collaboration was, and that project really opened my eyes on the fact that I can do this. It gave me confidence as a producer actually and I could do more of it now. So I expressed that to Domino Records and Quest and Shygirl came to join me. The collaborative essence of working with Shygirl was really cool, she was really open and I was really open so it just can of worked and gave a nice twist to the record. This is the universal essence of the record and I think the record does have that universal feel. The Seeking Thrills element is very ambiguous and universal. So it was really good to open my mind to having Shygirl on the record.
Maurice, however, is a different story because that’s me, that’s my alter ego ! Around 86-87, the house music turns sligthly harder because techno was becoming a real big movement and I think some of the house guys wanted to move into that direction and we had this really interesting cross over between techno and house. And I really got into that hard period and what we had during that period was songs with lyrics and voice over to help the audience or the dancefloor to entering in a different stage of conciousness on and I love that, it is really cool and creative. When I am on a dancefloor and somebody drops one of those tunes, OMG I am in ! Nobody is gonna stop me ! So I just wanna have one of those moments like that on my album with the typical voice of Maurice who has the kind of voice of those songs of that period. I discovered that the House scene was a home for gay and trans people, it was a home for people treated as a fringe of society, suffering and being segregated. Reading the horror of what people had to going through during that period in Chicago made me realized how important was the house scene. I found amazing how the house scene can provide such comfort to people and provide more than just a musical experience. It actually saves people’s life. I think dance music, house and techno became more than just a musical movement, it became a cultural movement and continues to be. So that’s why I guess I just wanted to explore it because I saw it effects on pop music as well and I think The Thrill is a little hommage to that.
- You have always made sure to surround yourself with directors or talented photographers for your visuals and videoclips. For Never Let You Go, your last single, you asked Joseph Connor to direct the video which was shot in Jordania. You were apparently very marked by this collaboration, do you want to tell us about it ?
I have been to this point where I found music videos very hard to do. I worked with directors a bit « difficult » and the companies were too. Music videos are necessarily important for them. They get into it but without heart, they don’t really understand it. Musicians are sensitive people. For them, it is not just get that job done and do to another job. I was sick to work with people like that and I was sick of music videos quite frankly. Then Domino introduced me to Joseph and I instantly got it he was definitely not one of those directors. He was more into the cinematography of videos. Actually he loves the form and he loves music. It was really refreshing to me somebody like that. We clicked together and had this special connection. We share the same sort of attitude, we share the same music. We met at that really cool time and suddenly we were enjoying Jodarnia’s desert and sharing this same new experience « wow this is amazing, look where we are ! ». The Jordinians are so friendly and the all experience was a real experience rather than just shooting a music video and that’s it. It was a big « wow we are living this ! » and I think as a result what you can see on that film is this really kind of true innocence kind of representation because it was really just me walking through the desert and be amazed by everything arounds me. So yes that was more than just a video, it was a real experience with someone who understand me and my music.
- You could seem shy and reserved behind your instruments (drums and keyboard) but as soon as you start the first notes there is an energy and incredible power that emerges from you and you take everything with you on stage. It’s really fascinating how you create a connection with the audience on stage. Have all these dates and tours changed anything or marked an evolution in the way you play your songs or connect with the audience ? And for your upcoming Seeking Thrills tour in 2020 (Paris Badaboum, February 11, 2020) do you already have ideas or special desires for staging maybe like playing with other female drummers like in the videoclip Feel it?
I am so glad that you understand that because when I set out to present these new songs live, it took me quite a long time to figure this out. Like I juts don’t want have a band. I just don’t want to be like the others, I want something new and fresh and I want to feel inspired like I want the audience to feel inspired too. It took me quite a long time to think about it with Domino and then became quite apparent that it would be just me on stage. Being alone on stage is actually the best way to break all of these down and you have this connection with the audience actually goes far beyond just them seeing me presenting these songs. It is more like they are in with me, they are almost the band, you know. I really want it that to happen because of all these influences of the Seeking Thrills album. I suddenly realized I am not interested in them to just coming to see a show. I am interested in them having a real experience. Almost like how good clubs or really good DJs do that. It is like almost I am a facilitator for the audience having this experience. And I think more and more artists are trying to explore that. I mean, look Kanye West is doing his Sunday service where he performs in the middle and the audience are around and part of the sermon. You have The Knife playing with all the conceptual lights installations and people are experiencing something. And for me I really wanna try to do this. The connection with the audience is really important for me, that’s the main thing of the live show. And inviting people is also something that I want to explore. I worked quite closely with The Black Madonna who is a DJ. And when you go to her « We Still Believe » parties, she invites dancers, performers, it gives a real ‘wow’ dimension to the party, something happens ! I think I want to definitely explore some kind of moment in these live set where you have this something happens. The live show is really good now but it is thinking about this next tour and how we can take that essence of an experience even further and I like your suggestion of the female drummers, I think it is not a bad idea actually, I will keep that in mind ahah.
- Beside music, what gives you thrills ?
Ahah it is a naughty question ?! I think for me it is dancing, the physical movement of dancing give me thrills. I am not a good dancer ahah but I love to dance.