Interview: All systems go: Georgia beats her own drum

All systems go: Georgia beats her own drum

Drumming for Kate Tempest and Kwes, Georgia has had a key role behind the scenes. She’s stepping into the spotlight with her debut LP.

Born-and-raised Londoner Georgia hasn’t always sought out exciting musicians and springing-up scenes, but she does now. With years of experience drumming for Kate Tempest and Kwes, she’s been “surrounded” by bright minds, playing festivals as big as Latitude without having to step centre stage.

With her solo work now firmly on the agenda, she’s trying to keep things fresh by absorbing as many new ideas as possible. “In terms of going out and raving, I love my house and techno music. I’m always shopping, always getting my 12”’s,” she says, speaking ahead of her debut album’s release.

What’s emerged from the twenty-something is a bright, colourful, patchwork mentality. From the deranged and digitised ‘Be Gone’ to the more pop-rooted ‘Move Systems’, she sounds like she’s spitting out gigantic gulps of culture and where it is today. A crazed mix of R&B, dance and 5AM techno, there isn’t a single stone that’s left unturned.

She’s emerged with an album that captures uptight anxiety, a youthful exuberance and London’s bright, ever-flickering skyline in one fleeting move. It’s fit-to-burst with invention, and it’s enough to kickstart a career trajectory not too dissimilar to Kwes or Kate Tempest’s.

The album sounds like a culmination of the last couple of years of your life.

I think there is a part of my youth that exists in there. I love it when you try and hark back to that very innocent time. You’re learning music and there’s no inhibitions or pre-conceived ideas of who you are, or what you want to be. You’re picking up this guitar for the first time, you know. A friend of mine who plays drums, he’s reached that level now where he harks back to that time. There’s something special about that.

As you get older, you get more aware of what’s happening.

And I think for me, I’ve been exposed to a lot of scenes of music. A lot of incredible artists. I’ve been surrounded by loads of musicians, and it was really nice to just escape in a studio and go back to the time before I did any of this. But whether that’s actually in the songs as such is another… I don’t know. But it’s definitely there in the way I made it.

You were brought up in a scene with brilliant musicians like Kwes. Do you still try and meet new people and see what’s going on?

I think it’s really important. In terms of going out and raving, I love my house and techno music. I’m always shopping, always getting my 12”’s. It’s quite interesting though in that there’s so much saturation with it all, that it’s actually quite hard to find the really good DJ nights. So actually it’s going back to searching and asking people what they’re into. With Plastic People, you always knew it was gonna be a good night there. For me, it’s become a lot harder to find the nights where I really know I’ll dance the whole night. I think it’s important to constantly be looking out for these things.

Jamie xx was saying it’s resulted in new places springing up in unexpected places.

That’s what’s really interesting. And not a lot of people know about that. I guess it’s back to the ‘90s, right? Hearing from other people that this is going on. That’s quite cool. I think things constantly get knocked back and evolve. Music’s just totally like that, especially with rave - it’s constantly going to get knock backs and new ways of evolving.

All systems go: Georgia beats her own drum

Did you make an effort to go out as much as possible when writing this record?

As I was making the record which was over the last two years, I was playing drums for other people. So actually, I didn’t need to do drums too much. I’d have gigs out, I’d be on bills where I could see people I liked. The session drumming was great because although I was really locked up in the studio for days and days, not sleeping, then I’d have three days off drumming with this band. And that was a release for me, to be out there. I go out with my group of friends and they all love music, the music that I love. But for about three or four months there was a period where I locked myself away. I think you have to have a bit of a workaholic in you. I certainly had high anxiety. When you’re working that hard, you just get quite anxious, thinking ‘I shouldn’t be doing this’.

You spent four months holed up in your studio - was it all microwave ready meals?

I lost about two stone. I was probably the skinniest I’ve ever been in my life! Unfortunately when I’m in the process, I just end up smoking a load. I had a lot of fish finger sandwiches - classic. I know how to make a really good one now - rye bread, fish fingers, a bit of lettuce and mayonnaise. It’s either that or a little trip down to Chicken Village! It happens when you’re in that process - you’re feeling off the creativity, not to sound like a wanker. It’s all a bit of a blur now. And at the same time, Kate Tempest was really taking off. We did the Mercury Prize. It was one of the happiest days - for all of us. And I’d released the EP and people knew who I was. Whereas I would have been that person going up to loads of people being like ‘Hi!’ It felt like my world, a little bit. And that’s really overwhelming.

And are you still going to be doing stuff for Kate Tempest?

It’s hard because timing and scheduling gets in the way. It’s the same venues, places and festivals. In the future, yeah. But at the moment I need to concentrate on my own project. And it’s cool now because I’m playing drums in the live show. From Kate, I took a lot about how to perform and command an audience. I don’t think I’ve got that yet. Kwes has such a sensibility. He’s shy on stage but very creative. I’ve always tried to surround myself with sensitive musicians that are quietly confident, but they don’t exude it too much. Mica Levi - she’s known me since I was about seventeen. To be friends and hang around with her is crazy. She’s just so humbling and modest. It’s so refreshing to see, really.

If you could hypothetically get someone to session drum for you, who would it be?

I would either say Sheila E from Prince. Or I would say Zach Hill from Death Grips. He’s someone who I absolutely love. Sheila is totally different, whereas Zach whacks the shit out of drums.

Georgia’s self-titled debut album is out 7th August on Domino. She plays London Electrowerkz on Tuesday 21st July.

Taken from the July 2015 issue of DIY, out now.

Photos: Emma Swann / DIY.


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