“It’s about the dancefloor, moments and euphoria,” UK musician Georgia says from a bar in Brooklyn, clutching a gin and tonic. Throughout last year, she established herself as somewhat of a dancefloor hero, following up her debut record with a mighty dance-pop album that has spawned two of her most popular song ever About Work The Dancefloor and Started Out.
While her self-titled debut was experimental and insular, forthcoming follow-up Seeking Thrills opens up, embracing the power of the dancefloor and the collective audience that dances upon it. Georgia honed in on connecting to people, transporting them to a place of maximum emotion, and it’s worked. About Work The Dancefloor, in particular, introduced her to a new audience, garnering spins on commercial radio in the UK and landing on end of year lists by everyone from Pitchfork to NME.
Speaking to Georgia, it’s hard to believe she hasn’t been making extroverted music her entire life. She’s enthusiastic not only about her own music but the power of music in general. Educated in everything from mainstream pop to Chicago house, she set out to make a record that immediately connected by using what she perceived to be the most emotional tools in songwriting and production.
“I went into a studio. I listened to all the artists I love and thought ‘what do I like about this? Why do I like these pop songs?’ I approached it like a sort of research project,” she says, excitedly talking about Seeking Thrills.
She spent time picking apart Chicago house and Detroit Techno, looking at the connection masters like Frankie Knuckles had to ‘80s British acts Depeche Mode and Petshop Boys. Then, she traced its influence to modern pop music, knowing that she wanted the music on this album to be immediately accessible.
“People needed to listen to it and latch onto something,” she says.
“That was the vocal melodies. They’re a lot more formed on this album. That’s what lifted it up.”
From the flickering, glossy 24 Hours to the triumphant centrepiece The Thrill, it’s clear she’s achieved that on the album. There’s a deep respect for dance music of the past, but ultimately she’s made music that audiences can connect to immediately. The sort of music that sees people flail their arms in the club as they discover momentary euphoria.
In between albums, Georgia experienced this sort of emotion first hand. It was a period of great personal change for her as she gave up drinking and became a vegan. While clubs can be a daunting sober experience, she found it was the opposite as she watched how people reacted to music together: “I had these really poignant moments in a club being sober and witnessing this amazing collective energy.”
“When you see people going into a different place, it’s quite beautiful to watch.”
Now, she’s able to observe that happen from the stage having crafted the music to soundtrack it. The night before we meet, she’d played a small show in Brooklyn, peppered with industry and die-hard fans. These kind of show don’t often lend themselves to energy but Georgia took to the stage with an intent to get even the most stoney-faced attendees dancing.
She’s the sole member in her band, creating a wall of sound with her extensive toolkit. Throughout the show, she pointed her drumstick at the crowd as if it was a command to dance. And they obliged. As the one-two-punch of About Work The Dancefloor and Started Out hit it was difficult not to be sucked into the moment.
The reason why she does it on her own? “It connects more,” she says.
“They can get into it a bit more as opposed to have a band and just me. They’re like, ‘She’s doing it all herself. Fuck can she do this?’ You’re brought in and it feels uplifting.”
The most thrilling emotion taken from a Georgia show may be euphoria but there’s also a certain anarchy that comes out in the steelier songs. One track Ray Guns imagines a female army taking over the world. Over a percussive, M.I.A.-like beat she sings, “Pick up your ray guns.” Georgia describes the song as a “revolution”.
“Initially, I thought it was a female army led by Beyonce. She tells you to get our your ray guns.”
Thinking about it further, however, she realised it documented her feelings during as the UK grappled with a freshly delivered Brexit decision. There was an uncertainty and division across the country that remains years later as Brexit continues to cloud the political climate.
“There are a lot of issues and a lot of people angry on both sides. The making of the record was done in this time that was quite chaotic. London felt very chaotic,” she says.
The song is not about division though. It finds its force in unity. She notes that she was inspired by the UK rave scene saying it was a “political” time in music that found power in its collectiveness and anarchy.
“This was about disenfranchised, outsider kids looking for a home and something to identify with…You didn’t have to be from a certain background, it was just about everyone.”
Georgia has a story for each of her songs that don’t necessarily comes across by reading the lyrics. She calls herself an “emotive songwriter” and as such it’s about being swept up in the entire experience. The hook of About Work The Dancefloor, for example, is nonsense. When asked what it means, she laughs even though she has a good explanation.
“There was this band called Cybertron…A lot of the songs have vocoders guiding you through a trip. It’s grammatically incorrect but it’s all about rhythm,” she says.
“I was just thinking about work the dancefloor” was initially meant to go something like, “I just want to be able to dance on the dancefloor,” but she ditched for a truncated version.
“I thought let’s do it like Cybertron. It was a rhythmic thing. It was another percussive element over the drums.”
As we dig deeper into the meaning, we talk about the people online who were attempting to guess what it was about. There were forums and Twitter threads offering up potential explanations but the best quoted Will Ferrell via Watch The Throne’s N***** In Paris writing, “It’s provocative, it gets the people going.”
“That is so good. I love that. It is that,” Georgia proclaims.
Perhaps, it’s the best way to describe Seeking Thrills as a whole – a record dripping with feeling and elevated by people’s visceral reaction to it.
Seeking Thrills is out this Friday 10th January.