Better Watch Myself: Showcasing G Flip's Explicit Pop Honesty
G Flip doesn't have a filter.
Continually creative, she pours her life down on paper, then attempts to turn that into a series of vital, visceral pop songs.
A drummer and a songwriter, a producer and a performer, she's a multi-dimensional pop threat, one driven by resolute honesty.
Debut album 'About Us' is out now, and it's essentially rooted in a turbulent on-again and off-again romance with her girlfriend.
Songwriting that spans lust and desire, regret and self-doubt, there's a punk edge to G Flip's pop confections.
Clash caught up with this potent Australian artist to see what's what.
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‘Stupid’ felt like a real moment for you, what inspired it?
‘Stupid’ is very unapologetic. It’s very straight to the point, basically. I don’t shy away from the details of my on-and-off relationship.
I’ve been going out with this girl for about five years, but it’s been on-and-off and at that point when I wrote this song it was so up and down… we were in love one day, then hating each other the next day. It’s basically an open diary about the relationship we were in at that time.
You’re so honest in your music, has that been your approach right from the start?
I feel like I’ve always been straight to the point with my songs. I write lyrics just how I would talk – it’s just how I would say things. I don’t cuddle up the words with crazy lyrical content, or descriptive aspects… I’m just very straight down the road all the time.
Are lyrics the first thing you write, then?
It’s always different. Sometimes I start with the lyrics if I’ve written them in my lyrical diary; or I might start with some chords or production, I might just be fooling around in my studio. I might start with a sound that inspires me, or a couple of chords.
Or there’s been times when I’ve just sang a melody out loud – I normally sing in the car, or the shower, or when I wake up in the morning. I’ll sing a cool melody, then I’ll record it in my voice memos, and got back to my studio later when I’m free and try to make a song about of it. Every time is a little bit different.
What do you think the thread running through those different approaches is, then?
I think with the lyrical content it’s definitely just the honesty and the truth of it. I don’t just make up stories, it’s all about what’s going on in my life. I think sonically I’ve just got to feel something. If I’m going through, say, some synth sounds, and there’ll be 500 sounds but only five that I can feel some emotion to, or some kind of feeling towards. That’s probably where I’ll start from.
A lot of my songs seem to have a crescendo. I’ll start of calm, but by the end there’ll be a lot more instruments. It always grows towards the end.
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It’s hard to place G Flip – it feels pop, but then pop is such a nebulous term, isn’t it?
I wouldn’t even know how to define pop. I don’t know how anyone defines anything these days. For me, I just like writing catchy melodies. Melodies that haunt you at 3am when you wake up by accident and you’ve got this song stuck in your head. And that’s how I approach my music – I want to write melodies that are quite catchy, and you don’t forget about.
I think that’s also how I write songs – if I can’t remember the melody two hours later then it won’t be a good melody. I should always be able to remember it. I would say my music is in the pop world, but I don’t even know what the pop world is any more. There’s hardly genres anymore. And with my background… I grew up on punk music through my Dad, and I was always in rock bands that were a little bit rough around the edges. So if I make pop, then it’s pop that is rough around the edges – it’s not silky clean. It’s just how I am as a person.
Ariel Rechtshaid has had a big impact on you, what is it that drives that partnership?
He’s a really cool dude. He’s someone who I really wanted to work with as I’m a massive HAIM fan. I made this demo of a song called ‘I’m Not Afraid Of My Bedroom’, put down a string part with all these synths, found a beat and a couple of loops. It made its way to Ariel, and he loved it, and he wanted to work on it, so I packed up all my stems and went to his studio and we worked on it together.
He had a massive impact on me. He thought my bedroom production was awesome, which was the biggest compliment ever! I’m still learning how to produce, as I only started to teach myself last year. We ended up keeping that initial shitty string part, while re-recording some drums and vocals. He added his own little touch on it, with some cool, unique sounds here and there. It was such a dream.
As I was working with him the HAIM sisters walked in, so I played them the song. I tried to keep calm about it – like, “Oh hey!” - but inside I was screaming.
Teaching yourself production is quite punk, in a way – it’s that amateur ethos!
I play a lot of instruments, and I would always write the different parts, but I didn’t know how to record them properly. So I began to pin down the different EQs, and the different effects.
I always had these sounds in my head, it was just a matter of putting these different bits and pieces together. I kicked that off at the start of last now and now I’m producing all the time. When I have a bit more time next year I want to start producing for other people, as well.
Can you do that on the tour bus, even? Just find a space and put some headphones on…?
I bring a little MIDI keyboard around with me, so I can plug in and put some headphones on. Even if I’m on a plane or a bus, I can still figure it out. I’ve got a heap of plug-ins now on my hard drive, so I can find something that I want.
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How did you approach the album as a project?
Did you want to focus on particular themes, or it more a snapshot of the time you made it in? It’s definitely about the period I made it in. I was always striving for an album. Most of these tracks I actually wrote in 2017 before I even had a team, when I was just a kid making music.
Some people talk about making an album being pretty stressful as they have to get enough songs, but for me, I had a pile of songs and it was like: what should we do with them?
I had the songs for over a year, they just needed to be mixed and mastered. It made sense for it to be an album. I’m stoked to finally have these songs out, as I’ve had them sitting in my heads for a while.
Are you already looking beyond this project, then?
Yeah! I’m always working on new stuff. I feel like I will forever. I’m working on a heap of music for myself, and I have a heap of songs ready. I’m starting to write for other people, produce for other people.
I’m writing a bit of a book. I’m starting to write a musical. I’m always coming up with weird things. I’m always coming up weird ideas, or something to do with my time. It’s all I know how to do.
What will the book be about?
I’ve actually been writing it for a while. In 2016 I went on a big tour around America, when I was a drummer – before I went solo. And it’s always been this account of all my crazy stories and crazy times that I had as a drummer. Because when I was a drummer I didn’t have much responsibility. I could party a little bit more and be a bit more a loose cannon.
Now I’m the head of the project, and I come up with all the ideas, and people are buying tickets to see me perform, I don’t have as many cool, crazy stories any more. But back in the day I had so many cool experiences. It’s like a tour diary, but then this on-and-off relationship it tied into it.
It also goes through all of these songs, and what was happening in my life. It’s a work in progress. It might never see daylight. But it’s something I fill my time up with, now and then.
Do you feel the need to be constantly creative?
Yeah. I’ve never been good at not doing anything, and it frustrates me if I don’t have anything to do. I don’t know what to do with myself, and I never watch movies or TV so perhaps that’s why I get so much done, and am able to be so productive…
I get a bit bored watching TV and movies. Sitting still for that long is strange for me. I’m always doing something.
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'About Us' is out now.