It’s late evening in south London and Georgie sits opposite me. We’re backstage in the hallowed halls of Brixton Academy where Georgie is supporting Jake Bugg. The legendary venue has seen the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Clash and The Smiths grace its floor boards. Later this evening, Georgie will follow them.
“It’s a big stage,” smiles the 22-year old, seemingly unfazed by the prospect. Maybe she’s hiding it well. Yet, there’s no need for her to be nervous. Performing live has been a part of her life for a while. Before she was signed to Colombia Records, she played around 250 gigs in bars, pubs and clubs. “My first gig was in Mansfield. It was a pub called ‘The Railway.’ It’s an old man’s pub, opposite Sports direct. There were about 30 people there.” She sits back in her chair and looks at her hands. Clearly, things have changed dramatically. After all, she’s sitting in her own dressing room at Brixton Academy and is about to play to 4,000 people.
Georgie picked up a guitar at the relatively late age of 14 and wrote her first song in a matter of days. Not surprising really, due to the fact that music was introduced to her early on. “Well, my Mum had brought me up with a lot of music like Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Janis Joplin. That kind of planted a seed. And when I picked up a guitar, I instantly knew that it was what I wanted to do. I wasn’t interested in school. I just wanted to get home to write and play songs.” she explains. “There’s never been a plan B.”
With a mixture of roar talent and luck, Georgie was spotted at a gig by Colombia Records, who were there to watch another band. “It was at ‘The Bodega’ in Nottingham. Weirdly, there were loads of labels there to see this headlining band. I was just there by chance. The next day, I got loads of phone calls from these record companies, including Colombia.”
What followed was a trip to America where she recorded her debut album, which is set to be released next year. I ask her if it was strange to start recording in a studio when she was so used playing live.
“They’re two very different things. I love the adrenaline rush you get live with the crowd and everything. In a studio, you can scope in musically and focus in on parts”. She pauses and continues, “But I love doing both really.”
Since Amy Winehouse, the British, female singer-songwriter has been distorted into a heartfelt figure (in the pop-music sense), who writes forlorn lyrics about being in love or out of it. Georgie’s brilliant new single ‘Company of Thieves’ approaches these sort of subjects, but in a refreshingly distinct way – it’s earthy and a throwback to the Amy Winehouse swagger that we’ve all missed.
“It’s very direct song,” Georgie admits, “It’s kind of empowering and defiant too, especially for women who have been in those kind of relationships. I suppose it’s very personal in that respect. It’s definitely pointing the finger. But ‘Company of Thieves’ can come across to anyone really. I think we have all been in that place where we have been surround by people who we think can be trusted, but then they mug you off.”
Her songwriting is pure then. Inspirations are inhaled from banal or personal situations. “As a songwriter your kind of like a sponge, you know? You can just circle everything. The lyrics come about kind of subconsciously. The music sort of comes first. You just make shapes on the guitar.” She laughs – filled with a self-consciousness at revealing her craft.
Watching Georgie on stage, her gritty voice is as unforced as her own, effortlessly cool personae. She stands motionless, fender guitar in hand – her voice is enough to carry her performance through. Though, I do notice that she does the occasional ‘Stevie Nicks hand gesture’ – a possible nod to her idol.
We continue chatting about the music that she is listening to now. It ranges from Chance the Rapper to Christine and the Queens. Suddenly, her band walks in laughing and joking– this must mean my time is nearly up. I quickly steer the conversation back to tonight and how she got to support fellow Nottingham native, Jake Bugg.
“I did four gigs with him in London around March. Just me and my acoustic guitar. And yeah, he invited me back.” She carries on: “It’s great because now I have these guys with me.” She then grins at her band who are now chatting on the sofa.
I ask Georgie and the band to describe their sound in three words. The suggestions range from the witty, “really really good,” to the classic, “rock n’ roll.” Yet, they all jokingly agree on the 2016’s version of rock n’ roll – “rock whiskey roll.”
The addition of the band certainly adds another, raw dimension to her music. My set highlight is the melodic ballad, ‘Life After Fear’, with its bluesy guitar sound that grows slowly and beautifully into crescendo of organs and drums. It’s a definite hit.
I end the interview with a look to the future and ask, how will you top playing Brixton Academy?
“I just want to play at bigger venues, make more records – I just don’t want to stop. And I also want to inspire girls to pick up the guitar. Boys as well but especially girls.”
Well, I’m certainly inspired.
Catch Georgie at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 13th December, where she will support Blossoms.