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“I wasn’t really your average little girl growing up,” Georgiatold us with a laugh, over the phone a few weeks ago. This couldn’t be more of an understatement. The London-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist has been surrounded by music since she was practically born (her dad, Neil Barnes, is a member of the electronic group Leftfield).
Once a boy band fanatic, she’s since traded her childhood pop star obsession for a sound that fuses global-inspired beats, off-kilter electronic melodies, and a mashup of hip-hop-meets-indie pop vibe. It’s a little bit like if MIA went clubbing all night long with her best friends, and trust us — it’s a a killer combination. Georgia has been swirling around the London music scene the past few years, collaborating with the likes of Kwes and Kate Tempest, but now she’s ready to unleash her powerful force upon the world with her self-titled debut album.
We chatted with the triple threat about growing up around music, Coldplay (yes, really), and why, in this industry, sometimes it’s easier to just do everything yourself.
You’re about to release your debut album. How long have you been working on it?
It was probably close to about a year and a half or something like that, but I’ve been writing songs in my bedroom for a long time.
What bands were you into growing up?
I was a kid obsessed with pop music, really. I had posters on my wall of boy bands and stuff like that, but when I was 12 or 13 I started to listen to Missy Elliot. It was artists like that, mixed with bands like The Beatles, Radiohead, and older music as well.
What was the first concert you ever went to?
Coldplay was probably the first concert I ever went to by myself, at age 14. I remember going to see a bunch of people play, but seeing Pulp as a super young girl in Barcelona was such an amazing show. I’ve been brought up around music because my dad was a musician, so I’d go see concerts through him.
When did you first decide to pursue music seriously?
It was probably age 14, but from a very early age I was always writing songs – kids songs, you know – but seriously it was when I was a teenager. I decided to go to a school which was a free performing art school, and that was the point.
You wrote, performed, and produced this album yourself. Was that always the intention?
With these songs and this album, I knew exactly how I wanted it to be. I’m not a very articulate person, so in many ways it was just easier to do it this way! It would’ve taken twice as long and probably wouldn’t have had the sound I wanted – I discovered that I am a sort of producer, really, and I enjoy it. I like sitting at a computer and making sounds. I like keyboards and hardware… I’m not really an average girl in the sense that I would go out and buy makeup. I’d rather play the drums than buy dresses.
What was the biggest challenge in making this album? It was having the confidence to make the album myself. Making it in the studio is quite a lonely environment, I was feeling isolated from the scenes that were going on in London. It was a nerve-wracking thing to release my debut album, just believing that what you’re doing is good and that you’re on the right track.
Tell us about your single, “Move Systems.” I was just hanging out with my mates, and we discovered this Brazilian equivalent to hip-hop. It’s like a really raucous beat with a female vocalist over the top. It happens in the favelas in Brazil, and I was just back in the studio being like, ‘I want to make beat like this. ‘ I put the vocal over the top, and it just happened very naturally. It usually takes weeks to finish a song, but this one I did in two days. I wasn’t intending to rap – I’m not a rapper – but I wanted it to feel spoken-wordy, and the sounds that I love.