Joyful Abandon: Georgia

Interview Joyful Abandon: Georgia

Following the success of ‘Seeking Thrills’, Georgia is stepping into her pop star era on a ‘Euphoric’ new wave.

Having broken into wider public acclaim with Mercury Prize-shortlisted second album ‘Seeking Thrills’ in 2020, Georgia should reasonably have been primed to attack its follow-up with an air of unassailable confidence. But as the musician sat on a plane to Los Angeles, bound for a world far beyond her familiar surroundings, she could barely mask the swirl of insecurity and uncertainty that was churning inside. The London-based producer, who made ‘Seeking Thrills’ and her 2015 self-titled debut single-handedly within the confines of her home studio, had harboured an inner ambition for Album Three to take her beyond her safety net. Once confronted with that reality, however, it all seemed a little daunting.

“I’m resistant to change, so getting on that plane was quite hard for me,” she says. “I had never lived anywhere else other than London, and I was leaving all that behind. I did feel vulnerable. But that was the adventure I was after.”

However, judging by the resultant album ‘Euphoric’, Georgia’s trepidation was soon quashed by the wellspring of new artistic opportunities that the City of Angels had to offer her. The record shimmers with an irrepressible pop enthusiasm; a bold, assured stride into the glare of the spotlight. Where previously, her songs still had their tendrils clamped around Georgia’s underground roots, here they grasp fearlessly at the stars.

“It’s a little bit more a stamp of the music that I want to make,” she says about her new melody-driven work. “I love ‘Seeking Thrills’, obviously, but it’s very nostalgic for the Chicago house thing, whereas this one feels like it’s really new and doesn’t sound like anything else.”

What brought her to Los Angeles was the promise of co-producing alongside Rostam Batmanglij: the erstwhile Vampire Weekend keyboardist turned go-to pop producer. He had heard ‘Live Like We’re Dancing’, Georgia’s 2020 Mura Masa collaboration, and immediately contacted her to tell of his admiration.

“He sent me a message that basically said, ‘I just think that your voice is so incredible’,” Georgia recalls. An avowed Rostam fan, she couldn’t have been more excited, and when she found herself in LA for a show, she reached back out to him. The next day they were writing and recording together in Rostam’s home studio and within hours, they had created the final version of single ‘It’s Euphoric’.

Joyful Abandon: Georgia Joyful Abandon: Georgia

“I think it’s been hard for people to place exactly what my music is, and I like that.”

‘It’s Euphoric’ is emblematic of Georgia’s transformation - a heady dancefloor jam that springs with elastic pop joy. Alongside the infectious groove of ‘Give It Up for Love’ and ‘All Night’, these new tracks place Georgia’s voice front and centre, and they reap sprightly, fizzing rewards. Rostam’s first message to Georgia would seem to have been the tipping point in this shift, the nudge needed to unleash her inner pop star. “I think I’ve been a bit lazy in the past,” she reflects, with unnecessary contrition. “I’ve never felt truly happy enough with my vocals before this. On ‘Seeking Thrills’, a lot of the vocals were processed through effects units, but on a lot of these new songs, they are quite dry. That felt like a really massive development for me, and I think it’s because I was taking the risk of doing the process differently.”

‘Euphoric’ strides with full-chested confidence, and while its crossover credentials are rock solid, it retains Georgia’s commitment to sonic invention. She cites Rosalía and Billie Eilish as examples of artists charting similar waters between accessibility and esoterica, a hinterland that feels like home to Georgia. “I think it’s been hard for people to place exactly what my music is, and I like that,” she says. “I see myself as a pop artist that is pushing the boundaries a little bit, a bit left of centre, not afraid to introduce new sounds within the pop framework. That’s always been the music that I like and have been inspired by.”

It speaks to the fertile underground scene in London from which she emerged in the early 2010s, where it was typical to see James Blake DJ alongside Mica Levi or Jamie xx in an abandoned factory. Indeed, Georgia’s own start came via her drumming for artists like Kwes and Kae Tempest, and she remembers fondly the sense of collective excitement among her peers when new landmark tracks from Jai Paul or Burial would drop, redefining what they saw as the possible future.

Bring up the question of whether her city has retained that spirit, though, and the mood changes. “I think London is in serious trouble at the moment,” she says. “It doesn’t feel as creative or free as it did ten years ago.”

She admits that the thought of permanently relocating to Los Angeles entices her, identifying the same artistic freedom there that she now sees dwindling in her own city. “It does feel like the cost of living has kind of priced artists out,” she says. “People have had to move further and further out of London, which is just going to have a knock-on effect on the creative output of the city.”

She accepts that the current difficulties can partly be ascribed to the natural cycle of peaks and troughs, but Georgia is nonetheless clear where the blame lies. “It reflects the political, socio-economic situation, really,” she continues. “People here are really struggling, and the division between the rich and the poor has got so severe that people haven’t got enough money to take risks and go to little gigs or try to be pushing things forward.”

For her own part, though, Georgia’s appetite for artistic growth is stronger than ever, and with ‘Euphoric’ only weeks away from release, it’s obvious that she feels the wind in her sails. “I want to be known as someone with something to say that is weird and wacky, and this album has been the perfect opportunity for that,” she concludes. “I want to be seen as a singer; I have the confidence to say that now. I’m ready.”

‘Euphoric’ is out 28th July via Domino.

Tags: Georgia, Features, Interviews

As featured in the July 2023 issue of DIY, out now.

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