My Heart Slipped: Clash Meets Georgia
Georgia tends to say exactly what she means.
In conversation she's funny, outspoken, and bracingly honest, a direct but warm interviewee, someone who cares deeply about her art.
New album 'Seeking Thrills' very much wears its heart on its sleeve. A step on from her rightly celebrated debut, it's a potent, distilled, incredibly infectious listen.
Channelling barbed elements of nascent techno with her innate pop touch, 'Seeking Thrills' is an addictive, ridiculously potent return.
Clash caught up with Georgia to find out how it all came together.
- - -
- - -
How does it feel to have the new album out there?
It feels amazing, really! I guess it’s a weird feeling, also, because the best you can hope for these days is for people to actually listen to it. It’s this scary thing of feeling really excited, and then coping with the pressures of seeing the results, and you can’t help but escape that.
It’s a weird feeling, really – the week before I was feeling very vulnerable, quite defensive, and a bit shy and reclusive, and then one of my best friends spoke to me on the phone, and she said: just enjoy yourself, and enjoy the moment. And that’s what I did.
It was a turning point for me, and I felt like… perhaps I really can enjoy this! It’s a weird feeling. It’s a weird, weird feeling. I just feel very blessed, and really excited that this is happening. It’s a whirlwind of emotions!
Is this album an evolution from your debut, or did you approach it from a true blank slate?
I see it as an evolution. I didn’t want it to be too different from the first record, but I wanted it to be more accessible, I wanted to feel like people would put this on and feel that it was timeless. A bit more directional, a bit more finished, and just a step up from the first record.
It feels very direct – was that deliberate?
I did, actually. I felt like the production on the first record was very scatterbrain because I didn’t really have much discipline, it was more experimental. I wanted to throw all these different ideas at it. This time round I needed to make the vocal the main kind of feature, and everything else would back that up, really.
Did that mean you started each song with the vocal melody line, then?
No, actually it’s always the sound… it’s a sound either on the synth, or a drum. It can be a melody sometimes. It changes quite a lot for me, the process of writing.
- - -
- - -
‘24 Hours’ was a deep impression – what inspired that song?
The whole record’s really influenced by the story of house music and techno. I guess it comes from my roots, as my family are in that world, and I witnessed that world from a very early age. All throughout my life dancefloor culture has played a massive part in my development as a human being.
I went out one night, to celebrate my friend’s 30th in Berlin, and it was a whole weekend of raving. We went to Berghain and Panorama Bar, and we saw these amazing DJs, and I wasn’t getting involved too much in the hedonistic side of it, I was just observing all these people, and witnessing these amazing moments on the dancefloor. It became a source of material, I think, for that song.
That song is specifically about 24 hours in a club. I had this experience where I met this guy on the dancefloor, and spent 10 hours with together, and then it was like: OK, I’m going to go home now…! See ya later! That moment was gone, but it was kind of OK because it very much just worked in the setting it was in. It got me thinking about dancefloor culture, and how these spaces are so important to have that moment of freedom and expression.
Lyrically are you detached on this record? Or is it very much your experiences?
I think there’s a bit of both, really. I think I was definitely writing it from a personal sense, of course, but I was also writing it from that observational sense, of imagining people and the feelings and emotions they have.
I guess I really enjoyed that on the dancefloor, people-watching, and seeing their faces and their expressions and their behaviour. It got me thinking that it would be a good point of inspiration for lyrics. I find it the most challenging part, lyric writing.
Does that directness of sound also stem for your experiences within club culture?
Oh yeah, absolutely! Completely. I’ve always been obsessed with having a physical reaction to sound. Whether it’s bass or that crisp, incredible audio sound – I’ve always been a bit of an audio buff when it comes to that sort of stuff. I was always taught that if you’re going to test out a soundsystem then you put dub on, some reggae… I’ve always been obsessed with frequencies in production, how the best producers get the best sound.
I think definitely, being exposed to an early age to this whole soundsystem culture has played into this whole obsession of mine with how things sound, and the idea of sound, as well. I definitely owe that to dancefloor culture, as well.
It’s a record peppered with these lovely pop moments – even at those aspects, did you worry about getting the low-end in there as well?
Oh absolutely! Completely. Mark Ralf and I – he’s a mixing engineer, but also a producer – he helped me mix this record, we worked tirelessly, and really intensely on trying to make this record sound amazing, trying to make it jump out.
The pop music I was listening to from the early 80s did that – it was a really interesting time technology-wise, it was when digital met analogue and you were getting these incredible crisp productions that were mind-blowing, that were timeless and would stand the test of time. That was my inspiration, really.
When you stick on Depeche Mode’s ‘Black Celebration’ the mixes are just so full of space, and that was the goal… to have space.
- - -
- - -
‘About Work The Dancefloor’ has become a real moment – and space is such a key way to describe how it operates.
I was listening to a lot of early Detroit techno when I wrote that. It was very early – we’re talking Cybotron, the Juan Atkins project, and how it influenced pop music. I got obsessed with listening to ‘Clear’ and the beats on it, the way Juan uses the vocoder I just found really inspiring. I wanted to create a beat like that, really.
So I went down that path, and then I wanted a bassline that would be as euphoric as a Robyn track, or as a Madonna track, or as a Depeche Mode track, I wanted a bassline that would be a pulsating rhythm that was just going to transport the listener to a dancefloor. The idea behind the song was really simple: I just wanted to make people dance, and feel like they were being transported somewhere, to a world where they felt a freedom to do whatever they wanted.
The idea was that the track had to be quick euphoric and uplifting, a sense of brightness alongside this dark bassline. I wanted the energy to be palpable from the beginning but at the same time I didn’t want to have this big pop chorus, I wanted it to be a Juan Atkins, Cybotron-esque catchy-but-weird hook.
It came from me hiring in this vocoder – it was actually the one used by Beastie Boys on ‘Intergalactic’ - and when you plug it in your can’t but either go a bit hip-hop, as whatever you say has this rhythmic quality. It’s different. You’re not going to sing pop melodies on it, you’re going to sound a bit robotic. I just made that chorus up, and I just loved it straight-away. As soon as I came up with the keyboard line over the top I knew it was a special song. It was a real pleasure making that song.
The sentiment with the lyrics is that it’s really about somebody whose everyday life isn’t that fulfilling until the night comes and they go to the dancefloor to feel a sense of freedom and escapism. It’s an escapism track, I think.
It’s light and shade isn’t it? Cybotron’s music came from a dark time in Detroit history, but it was used in the British rave explosion as the vehicle towards freedom.
Absolutely. I think that’s why we embrace techno music so much, because it was very relatable. What was going on in Detroit was also going on in cities around the UK, with Thatcherism, this dystopian, quite grey future for people, with heavy industry closing and people losing their jobs and kids growing up in poverty.
I think that’s why the rave movement is such an incredible cultural movement as well, because it’s a people’s movement, and I think it effected everyone across cultures and across classes. I think that’s why we embrace it, we saw these sounds – industrial sounds – as resembling cities across the UK. It’s very powerful stuff.
What happened in Detroit techno and Chicago house had such an impact on the UK, and without all those pioneers music wouldn’t sound like it does today. They were really influential in production, and influential in songwriting. I researched this album before writing it, and I spent about three to four, maybe even six, months in the studio, listening to music from the early to the mid 80s – predominantly house, techno, and synth pop – and I saw them all speaking to each other musically, and that was really fascinating to me.
I think tracing the journey that it took from America to the UK was really interesting to uncover. It still lives on. Dance music is one of the largest, most popular forms of music, and if you look in the mainstream charts… take away hip-hop and maybe R&B and the sounds are dance music. I think its influence is infinite, really.
- - -
- - -
'Seeking Thrills' is out now.
Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.