“It’s Full Of Honesty And Hard Work” Clash Meets Georgia

Finding confidence in the studio...

From cutting her teeth in recording studios across London to become an irrepressible electronic pop presence and having collaborated with the likes of mura masa, Gorillaz and Shygirl, Georgia Barnes has proven time and time again she’s unafraid to sacrifice. Contrasting to the producer and songwriter’s club coercing discography, for 2020’s ‘Seeking Thrills’ the now 33-year-old gave up alcohol, amongst other things. And for her third studio album ‘Euphoric’, the cost only leveraged the resulting reward. 

Being the daughter of Leftfield cofounder Neil Barnes, producer and songwriter Georgia was practically born into a music practicing environment, you could argue that what followed only resembled second nature, but Georgia spent 15 years in studios honing her craft with the help of other likeminded independent music folk. 

Working on her own material for the first time with another producer, the in-demand Clairo, Carly Rae Jepsen and Vampire Weekend industry common ground Rostam Batmanglij, ‘Euphoric’ saw Georgia trade in her home studio for Los Angeles as well as complete creative control of her work, something she’d become uniquely known for, found onstage for the longest time; just one woman and her kit. Having toured amongst the likes of Haim, Jungle and Metronomy, this is the voice of club dance floor emptying full hands, relinquishing control, and opting for a limitless pop oblivion.

You’ve mentioned in the past that you were ultimately surrendering to something on your new album ‘Euphoric.’ How did you come to that conclusion?

When it came to thinking about this record, I was toying around with the idea of making the move and leaving London for a bit for Los Angeles. I’m really bad with change and with making big decisions like that. I guess I surrendered to an inner voice that just said, grab hold of this opportunity and see what comes from it.

I started the project with this idea of surrendering to a slightly higher power, and I think it set the tone for the whole record, finding self-love, finding peace within myself and peace within the world, and surrendering to optimism. Previously I’ve been quite cynical and critical but it’s a positive record. I can’t really define the record which I quite like, and it’s full of honesty and hard work.

I heard that Rostam wanted you to be quite lyrically lead when you went out to LA and you can really hear that I think in the album, your voice is a lot cleaner. Was that a decision for textural purposes or to allow the lyrics to really shine through?

I think it was a bit of both. I said to Rostam that I wanted to express myself on this record and open the door to me as a singer, more so than anything and so, he said, “let’s really do the work.”

I think we were conscious throughout the writing and the production that the vocals were the main kind of texture. I use the voice for a lot of different textual things, such as loops and ethereal techniques that help with the atmosphere of the productions. I wanted the voice to be front and centre and I really worked hard on lyric writing and really delved deep into the capabilities of my vocals. That really pushed me. I wanted to learn more techniques in my voice and, keep developing it and gaining more confidence.

I think that’s what you hear on this record, perhaps me with a bit more confidence and certainly that helps when you’re in front of a microphone because it’s quite a nerve-racking action, to open yourself up in front of this very stern looking piece of equipment. Rostam created an environment for me to be able to do that.

Do you think in the past you’ve been maybe not so vocally led because you’ve had that dance music aspect to take up a central space?

Yeah, I definitely think so. I think people, especially in London, know me more so as a producer or a drummer. I kind of want to move away from that, although I still produce. I’m co-producing this whole record, and I’m still involved in production with other people as well.

Being so independent, what was it like giving up that large chunk of responsibility to Rostam?

I found it really liberating. Rostam and I had this natural dynamic from the get-go, and really got on. I trusted him, we loved the same sort of music and loved creating and exploring different processes, but I think ultimately, we were able to be honest with each other.

I wanted to relieve some of the responsibility of thinking about the drums or the frequencies because so much of production is to do with science, and that takes up a lot of thought process. Sharing that responsibility was fantastic because it meant that I could concentrate on the vocal and be a lyricist. Of course, when it came to the mixing, I was then very heavily involved in all the EQing and stuff like that. So, it wasn’t like I gave up all of it.

Have you always been an independent creative by choice or has it been a necessity for you?

I think a bit of both. I honed in on a skill of mine, which was drumming. It gave me this independent pathway into the music scene in London and I found myself being surrounded by lots of incredible independent artists. That gave me the tools to keep that self-sufficient thing going.

My dad instilled that it was a necessity, so I didn’t have to rely on too many people. I could get into a studio and create what I hear in my head. I think my dad instilled that it was a necessity, especially being a woman. The studio world is very male dominated, so it’s given me real power and confidence to go into studios. I’m very proud of that. It’s taken me 15 years of pure hard work, being surrounded by amazing musicians, producers and mixers and I feel like now, I’m well equipped producing a whole record for someone else. I don’t want to seem arrogant in the studio.

The thing about creative processes, in a studio, is that you’re constantly learning off your mistakes, so if you go in thinking you know everything, you’re not going to learn. I’m well adaptable and I’ve realised that to have those skills is a necessity and it’s also a responsibility as well.

On the topic of being a woman in music, I saw you when you were touring with HAIM. You played ‘It’s Euphoric’ before it was released. Was that to witness the initial reception for the song?

Yeah definitely. We’re also all kind of a family, Haim, me, and Rostam. I was very much in communication for this whole record with the girls and they’ve been great support. It felt like the right sort of audience to play that song to and see what the reactions were as it’s a slightly different sound for me from the previous record.

I’m glad I did openings for Haim because people were messaging me for months afterwards asking when I was going to release ‘It’s Euphoric’. The girls were so supportive, and they still continue to be. I got a message from them congratulating me on the record, and I feel very blessed that I’ve met such amazing musicians over the years. I’m glad that ‘It’s Euphoric’ has become a definitive song for people on this new record because it was the first song that we wrote. We wrote that song in an hour.

That’s a real testament to how well you gelled as well.

We’d only been in little communication over Instagram. Rostam heard me sing ‘Live Like We’re Dancing.’ He got the demo because Alex (Mura Masa) and Rostam are good friends and he got in contact with me through that song.

How did you come to remake ‘Live Like We’re Dancing’ for the album ‘Euphoric’ because it sounds like you’ve completely rethought it.

It was Rostam’s idea. I think he had a sentimental idea, we met through that song so why don’t we do a part two. We spoke to Alex and decided to reinvent the song, keep the lyrics and the melody, but change the production and make it almost like a later version of the song. Alex said our one is a pre-midnight song and then me and Rostam’s one is the 5am version, but overall, it’s just nice to add stories to a body of work.

‘Euphoric’ is out now. Catch Georgia live.

Words: Emma Way
Photo Credit: Will Spooner

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