Georgia steps out on stage at Elsewhere in Brooklyn, New York to a half-circle of gear waiting for her: drum pads, cymbals, and synthesizers. It’s like her very own DJ booth, except it offers way more than just a laptop with Ableton Live. It’s Wednesday (Oct. 2), the U.K. singer/songwriter/producer’s first-ever headlining show in New York City, and it feels as if she’s about to start preaching to the congregation, the music being her holy language.
“The dance floor, or any space which allows for collective energy, is connecting on a deep level to human emotion,” the singer, born Georgia Barnes, reflects the day after the show in the back of a cozy Williamsburg restaurant. “It’s almost like going to church and having a religious experience.” A lot of the DJs Georgia knows, she says, see the floor as a spiritual place where people can be transported to other senses in their psyche. “It’s an age-old tale, really. Even the dancefloors my grandma used to go to — she used to dance with the soldiers — she became a different person. Her name was Lily but when she was on the dancefloor, she was Lola.”
While it’s been some time since 2015, when Georgia released her self-titled debut album, she has kept busy. In Nov. 2018, she released “Started Out,” a song that propelled her into her now rigorous touring and promo schedule. “It was kind of mental,” she says of the doors opened by that track. “I didn’t think ‘Started Out’ would be the one to connect to people because it’s really a bit of a weird song. It’s not really your normal pop song, it doesn’t really have a chorus to it…it’s very dance-influenced. But I think the lyrics are strong: ‘Wicked and bold.’ I think people picked up on those lyrics.” There’s also a sonic sense of nostalgia to the song, thanks to Georgia’s intentional use of ‘80s Chicago house-inspired sounds — which also influenced her upcoming sophomore album Seeking Thrills, due in early 2020 — along with the Detroit techno scene.
When she performs “Started Out” the night before, she makes it a point to emphasize those lyrics, screaming, “Brooklyn, you are wicked and bold! You are wicked and bold!” during the instrumental break. It’s a moment that energizes the room, urging people to somehow dance even harder than they already were.
Georgia fondly refers to touring as a “mental time.” “I really want it to be a show where people can feel the freedom to express themselves as opposed to some cool, introverted experience,” she says. “I want the opposite of that, I want people to feel like they can really be who they are and just go wild.”
Ahead of Seeking Thrills, Georgia has released a handful of striking singles, including “Never Let You Go,” and “Mellow (ft. Shygirl).” Then there’s the exhilarating, ecstasy-infused “About Work The Dancefloor.” “It was one of those songs I wrote and it was instantly like, this could potentially be a single,” she says. During the making of the track, the British artist had just watched an episode of Girls where Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah, goes into her room and blasts Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own.” “She’s just taken to this other world. I’d also been going to a lot of clubs and I’d just sit on the outskirts watching people be transported to a different place physically and mentally. It was like euphoria and I wanted to capture that in a song. So I wrote ‘About Work’ and the whole idea was that it needed that sound — almost like a heartbeat — a bassline and just really simple drums. It’s just about assisting you into a euphoric state.”
A lot has changed for Georgia since the release of her debut record. She quit drinking alcohol, became vegan, went gluten-free. These actions, she says, contributed to her turning her entire life around. Meanwhile, she found she’d reached new heights of artistic creativity. “The first record was a really big deal for me, however, it was a bit of an experiment. It was just me alone when I was creating it,” she says. “I was just figuring out the sounds I wanted to make. I wasn’t thinking too much about the finished process. As a result, I was left with a record that felt a bit like a window to the potential of what I could do.”
Seeking Thrills took a lot of work and discipline. The singer shut herself away in her London studio. She decided to no longer be afraid of her voice and instead, put it more at the forefront of her music. She got healthy. “Looking back, these songs are me finding who I am through music and I’m really proud of it.”
Catch Georgia on tour (dates here). Seeking Thrills will arrive on Jan. 10, 2020.