Singer-drummer-songwriter-producer extraordinaire Georgia chats about her new album and her working relationship with Rostam Batmanglij.
Getting the pairing of artist and producer right is a crucial step in ensuring an album can go ahead in a constructive and fruitful manner. Remember, for every perfect combo like the Ronettes and Phil Spector, there’s a combo like Leonard Cohen and… well, Phil Spector. Luckily, singer-drummer-songwriter-producer extraordinaire Georgia seemingly found the exact right fit behind the boards on her third studio album – that being former Vampire Weekend multi-instrumentalist turned pop-star go-to Rostam Batmanglij. Speaking to Mixdown from her London abode, Georgia says that she knew early on that the two would get on famously.
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“I first met Rostam before [second album, 2020’s] Seeking Thrills even came out, in late 2019,” she says. “The first time we met in a studio we wrote ‘It’s Euphoric’. Everything you hear on that single, we wrote in the first day of working together. That whole process was very exciting to me – I was really hoping that my next album would be a chance to throw myself in the deep-end of songwriting with somebody else, and that somebody turned out to be Rostam.”
‘It’s Euphoric’ serves as the title track of sorts to Georgia’s second studio album, Euphoric – ie. no “it’s”. A curious choice, certainly, but one that Georgia herself justifies when she explains that no other word could better sum up the experience of creating music with Batmanglij. “That word really hung in the atmosphere while we were making this album,” she says. “I would say a big part of dance music as a whole is the euphoria that comes with it – like, there’s so much to explore. So, that word really set the tone for the whole record. I think we knew from the get-go that’s what it had to be called.”
When it came to following up Seeking Thrills – which, it must be said, is an electric piece of dancefloor-carving synth-pop in its own right – Georgia says that she wanted far more than for it to just be a part-two. She wanted an adventure this time around: To get out of London, to find the right producer (that being Batmanglij) and to push herself to be a songwriter in a more traditional sense while still maintaining a grip on her electronically-inclined musical style. With Euphoria, she’s very much achieved that adventure – and best of all, you feel as though you’re on it with her when you listen to the album.
“It was totally different to how I made Seeking Thrills, which was really appealing to me,” says Georgia. “Seeking Thrills was very much dictated by production – I was really trying to emulate that Chicago house sound, and really trying to parallel how a lot of the producers in that scene would have done things. This time around, I wanted to move away from the feel of that record – even in those little subtle ways, like replacing where I’d normally put drum machines with actual drums, or using real bass guitar instead of 303s. By the time Seeking Thrills came out, I’d lived with those songs for three years – I was ready to move onto the next step.”
Despite a three-and-a-half year gap between Seeking Thrills and the release of Euphoric, Georgia certainly hasn’t spent the decade thus far in an idle state. Much like Batmanglij, she’s branched out to become a keen collaborator – ranging from the mighty Gorillaz and the immortal Peter Hook all the way to the queen of pop country herself, Shania Twain. When queried about what she gains from these collaborative experiences, Georgia says that it’s all about connection – once you’re in there one-on-one, the common ground between artists must be nurtured. “The key you’re looking for is how you can get to know them in a way that will bring out the best creativity for the both of you,” she says.
“I’ve been in studios nearly all my life, so I have pretty good radar for when people are willing to open up. That open-mindedness is really key – I was really lucky with Shania, in that regard. We were in the studio together for three days, and every single suggestion I had she was completely open to. She really made it feel like a collaboration, not just her specific vision that I’d been brought in to be an assistant for. With Rostam and I, we knew when to hand the reins over to one another in certain respects – just because we knew we could trust one another, and that mutual respect was there throughout.”
With its sharp array of hooks, its locked-in grooves and its blissful synth patterns, Euphoric is practically already set up to knock down listeners upon its late July release. Georgia herself cannot contain her excitement over what she and Batmanglij have created – to her, it’s the best thing she’s made to date. “It doesn’t sound like anything else to me – it’s really in its own lane a bit,” she says.
“I think it’s time we throw out the rulebook in pop music – it doesn’t have to be dictated by trends, or by record labels saying this is the way it should go. We need to bring back the spontaneity, and the fondness of creativity within the pop framework. If this album inspires anyone else to go the same way, then I’ll be happy with that.”
Georgia’s Euphoric is available to pre-order on Georgia’s store-exclusive coloured vinyl (w/ mirrorboard sleeve), standard vinyl, cassette, CD and digitally.