Taking rapturous self-discovery and the spiritual energy of the dancefloor as her keystones, British electronic artist Georgia has created a vivid piece of art in her aptly-named debut album, Seeking Thrills.
You’ve used Roland’s 909 drum machine across the album – it’s turning 35 years old this year! How do you remember learning about it, and the way that it was used for old school house and techno rhythms? (Side note: Apparently only 10,000 were ever made – crazy.)
Wow, I did not! I knew that they were rare but didn’t know just how rare – that’s why they are so expensive second-hand! So I guess my introduction goes way back to when I was born amongst drum machines and synthesisers, my dad being in the electronic duo called Leftfield. My bedroom in our first flat was their studio so growing up I just always knew about 808s, 909s, 303s, 101s, etc. Forward onto 2010, I began my real obsession with Chicago House and Detroit Techno. I came across YouTube clips of Jeff Mills playing the 909 like a violin, and that was one of the most exciting things I’d ever seen. I began to analyse and get into how the pioneers of both these musical revolutions made the music and productions, and of course the 909 was so important. Also I grew up with hip hop; I am particularly fond of the early sounds of like the Soul Sonic Force. Afrika Bambaataa’s sound was definitely 808s and 909s, but also listening to The Neptunes and Missy Elliot, the sound of 808s and 909s are such a feature in the productions.
Shygirl couldn’t have been better placed than in the song Mellow. How did you hook up with her, and what do you like about her approach?
Well, when I finished Mellow I felt like it needed a female rapper to complete the whole atmosphere of the song, and it needs to be someone who sounds a little different and who’s got their own unique style. My friend Kwes played me some of Shygirl’s tunes and I was immediately blown away by her vocal – it was exactly the sound I felt Mellow could do with! When she came into the studio I explained what the song was about – this kind of hedonistic journey – and she just got the vibe and got writing. It was a very natural thing: we just got on and there was a mutual understanding and love. I think she’s so amazing. Her approach was no nonsense, just get in and write. I liked how bold and fearless she was! I’m so glad she is part of this story!
In the chorus of track I Can’t Wait, you wait an extra beat before dropping the big bass note/chord – it creates such anticipation. Were you thinking about the complement or tension between the song’s message and the way you could communicate that message through sound?
Yes definitely: that’s pure intention there, and I’m so glad you have picked up on that, thank you. Totally, the message behind this song is you can’t wait any longer for that thrill of meeting someone you like, and I wanted the music to reflect this by the anticipation of waiting until that bassline hits, and when it does, it’s euphoric. I was listening to a lot of electric dub and reggae particularly from the ’80s, and finding inspiration there for the production. I found that there were a lot of anticipating rhythms and textures within the productions.
In Ultimate Sailor, there are the sounds of waves at the end… but they also could be the hiss of a snare drum. How did you create/ capture this sound?
The sound is of real waves crashing on a seashore. It’s from a recording I made at my mum’s beach hut. My mum has this amazing hut on a beach near Bournemouth where I spent a lot of my childhood: it’s a real English tradition, beach huts – haha. But I often find myself going down there to escape the hustle and bustle of London. I love the sea. I love staring into it. I get lost. It grounds me. I also love the sound of the waves and thought, what a great addition to this song, and I love the way Kate Bush adds real sound recordings of elemental things in her recordings. It’s about a journey somebody is taking; you’re not sure whether they are escaping or travelling to someone. I place them sailing, and the open sea. It felt right to add the actual sound of the sea.
You’ve said, “You will never be able to take the dancefloor away from people.” Do you mean this in the way that the dancefloor is where people can truly be themselves?
I think I meant that the powers that be will never be able to take the dancefloor away from the people. Yes, totally, I think the dancefloor is one of only a few places where people can feel totally free to express themselves and feel safe to [do so]. Where they can find community, and where there is love and escapism.
Seeking Thrills by Georgia is out January 10 via Domino.
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