The dawn of a new decade brings with it a host of new dreams, new sounds, new ideas and new possibilities. For DIY pop producer and now bona fide popstar Georgia, the first few weeks of 2020 see the long-awaited release of her second album, 'Seeking Thrills'. The first great record of the decade has arrived.
"It's very exciting that it's finally coming out, and it's in 2020, the first week of the decade," exclaims Georgia as she relaxes at home on some pre-Christmas downtime. The album marks the beginning of a new musical decade but actually is the culmination of a period of reflection and regeneration for Georgia. She spent the last few years immersing herself in dancefloor culture and the electronic sounds that she loves to create a record that takes you on a dizzying sonic journey through dance music's hyper thrilling landscape.
In truth, the album could have come out at any point in the last year. It's been trailed by a number of storming singles including the now defining bangers 'About Work The Dancefloor', and the song that started this whole wave of excitement 'Starting Out'. There has been a real buzz about Georgia for a long time now. It's something she wanted to wait to fully capitalise on rather than jumping in at the wrong moment.
"This album has been an interesting process," she explains. "I finished it about a year and a half ago. With the success of 'Starting Out' it made us all think that we wanted to make sure the album was on the same production level and is as exciting for people to listen to. The album has gone through some changes as a result of the unexpected reception that we got from the singles."
Wary of the pitfalls of hype without substance Georgia took a different approach this time out. "It is very much just following the principle of we don't want to drop the album until there's enough momentum that people will want to buy it as opposed to just hype which I had for my first record in 2015," she continues. "It was just all hype, and we put the record out, and it did well critically, but nobody else really heard it. All I want is for people to hear this record, so we had to give it time to breathe."
The album is the product of a newfound lucidity and clarity in Georgia's working process. "The vision was to make something that was far more accessible than the first record," she explains. "As much as I love the first record and it was an important moment for me, in hindsight listening to it I realised it all needs to go up a step. The songwriting, the production, the lyrics, the singing, it all needs to be on the next level up. I was very aware that I needed to strip back the music and find a direction for this record that wasn't so experimentally mixed up. I wanted it to be a cohesive body of work."
While not a concept album, it is a record clearly defined by Georgia's musical passions cultivated from her childhood growing up with musical parents (her dad was in pioneering 90s dance act Leftfield). "The album is very much influenced by the dancefloor and dancefloor culture," she says. "I grew up in the UK rave scene. I was brought up amongst bass drums and synthesisers. As a kid, my mum took me to Leftfield gigs and raves and seeing all these people together under one roof was a big fascination of mine."
The collective and transcendent experience of feeling the music and feeling part of something exciting became a key theme of the record. As she began to delve further back into the history of dance music a vision emerged: "I got particularly interested in early to mid 80s music, especially bands like Depeche Mode and artists like Kate Bush, Eurythmics and Pet Shop Boys. I was wondering where they were getting their inspiration from with their drumbeats and synth sounds. It led me to Chicago House and Detroit techno. When I returned to the story of the beginnings of dance music in Chicago and Detroit i felt an emotional connection. I was obsessed with trying to understand the songs of that era and the whole cultural phenomenon around clubs. I found the direction of the music within that."
The pop music Georgia wanted to create was inspired by the past but also imbued with the energy and cross-genre experimentalism of today. At its heart, though it had to have great songs. 'Seeking Thrills' masterfully gets the balance right between pristine pop songwriting and electronic experimentalism.
"The lyrics became part of the whole idea of the dancefloor and empowerment, what it means to be all together collectively sharing a space. Being free and able to express yourself," she outlines of her songwriting process. "I was thinking of the album for about a year before I got around to writing the songs. I wanted the songs to be good. I wanted to feel confident in songwriting. In order to do that I went back to classic songwriters that I admire like Joni Mitchell and Neil Young."
The realisation that she could write massive accessible pop songs but still do everything on her own and indulge in all her mad sonic fantasies was akin to a musical epiphany for Georgia. "This was a real life-changing record," she proclaims proudly. "I found the process really fun. It was a joy to do. There were obviously really hard moments, and it was a struggle, but the whole idea behind it was tracing music from where it comes from and how it influences other cultures and the journey the music is taking."
The dance floor is where the album really comes alive, it's a place of ecstasy and euphoria but also can be lonely and despairing. A duality that Georgia recognises in her music. She thinks back to her musical touchstones of 80s Chicago house where largely black and gay communities faced untold oppression and segregation, and they found their salvation together on the dancefloor.
"I have to go back to Chicago house. In studying and understanding and listening to those songs what I loved was that it was really emotional. There was a yearning and a searching and wanting for something else to happen. Joe Smooth's formative house classic 'Promised Land' is the perfect example of an emotionally searching lyrical song. It's about how to be gay and black in Chicago in the 80s was a really hard existence, and they're singing about how house gave them a home and a community. The pairing of darkness versus euphoria and positivity was interesting and I related to that. In my songs, I often sing about emotive things but pair it with inventive production and mad sounds."
It's definitely a good time to be pairing weird sounds with pop hooks and a bewitching shade of darkness. "I like darkness in pop music," says Georgia. That's why I think people like Billie Eilish are so fucking cool."
While 'Seeking Thrills' has a number of turbo bangers that break the banger scale it's also a nuanced and balanced record that takes you in different directions. "It was really important not to just have banger pop songs throughout the whole thing," she says. "I'm interested in records like 'Hounds Of Love' by Kate Bush where you have amazing pop songs but also these weird and explorative pieces. I don't think I could ever write an album that was just one thing. People now more than ever want something that is going to take them on a journey, something that is weird and undefinable. That's why Billie Eilish is making such a statement in pop music because you can't really define who she is. It's wicked to have pop stars like that."
'Seeking Thrills' is a record that came around at the right time for Georgia and inspired her to come out of a rough personal period: "I was on a personal journey with this record as I stopped drinking, I became really fit, I lost a lot of weight and became really interested in nutrition. In hindsight, I was going out to try and seek thrills through writing these songs."
The album is about inspiring people to take their own journey and make their own experiences. "It's a collection of songs that I wanted to empower people and make the listener feel like they could check in on themselves and take themselves off to a dance floor or do something different, take a chance or take a risk," she says passionately. As we enter a new decade, it's the perfect time for Georgia's thrill-seeking music to truly take flight.
Taken from the February issue of Dork. Georgia's album 'Seeking Thrills' is out now.
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