Words by Anthony Thomas
“It’s a surreal experience. I guess it is for anyone in a band that gets any sort of major recognition, it can be so unattainable,” says a slightly nervous, British voice over the phone. I’m speaking with George Reid, one half of rising electro-pop outfit, AlunaGeorge. George is responsible for keeping things lively with his beats while partner in crime, Aluna Francis, enchants us with her voice. A voice he describes as “one of a kind”. He continues, “When I first heard it, it was quite child-like but I really don’t hear that anymore. It’s hard you know? It’s just Aluna. I feel very fortunate (to have her).”
They met via the Internet back in 2009, after George kept stumbling across Aluna’s band at the time on MySpace and eventually asked to remix one of their tracks. They bonded and the foundations of their partnership developed quickly, the rest as they say is history. Analyser/We Are Chosen, their first offering as AlunaGeorge, was self-released and promoted through digital channels with no expectations. Yet, just as George discovered Aluna through the Internet by chance, so to did people find the two-track release. “It’s still a little bizarre but we’ve been lucky, it hasn’t been too sudden. We have been building slowly before we really surfaced,” says George describing their success since.
Surfaced, certainly a humble way to describe their rise from bedroom producers to the darlings of Island/Universal Music executives. Their first single through the label, You Know Like It, has clocked in over two million YouTube views. Two singles and countless shows later their debut album, Body Music, is on the brink of release. On Your Drums, Your Love Aluna sings, “I’ve been treading water for your love.” I ask George if he feels they are truly afloat now with their fans. Laughing he says, “We’ve been constantly surprised with the people who have been coming to our shows. It’s remarkable but hard to say. We only get to appreciate and see for ourselves what’s happening in the UK, so I don’t know whether we’re afloat. We’ve gotten better at swimming. How about that?” His youthful wit is appreciated.
Transitioning from home production to the studio is a difficult for some but not this duo. George welcomed the opportunity to produce the record himself with the state of the art facilities on offer. Though the young producer was open to having assistance when it came to mixing the record. “In my head I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to make this sound awesome on every stereo. I can get all the volumes right but I wouldn’t be able to make it sound as phat (sic) and chunky out of someone’s shower radio.” Detractors will see lack of skill but the earnest with which he delivers this ‘confession’ leads me to believe he knows his current abilities and simply wants to create the best possible listening experience for their fans.
I’m curious as to whether they became studio vampires after finding themselves with access to a new calibre of recording facility. “Not really! I can’t speak for Aluna but I think she preferred the daylight and view from the big window in my house. I’m on the computer so I preferred the dark,” George explains. “We did always end up staying later than we intended because we’d start doing something and suddenly four hours had passed by. At one point, we used this residential studio for about week during the writing process and we really enjoyed. It was the first time we had been completely out of contact for about two years. All we did was make music together. It was very, very productive actually.”
Going on to tell me that their writing is highly collaborative, with both of them throwing ideas around throughout the process. Measuring the effects of collaboration is difficult and George concedes that but is hopeful people will notice. “The album is just Aluna and I, whether people can hear that I’m not sure. Aluna’s voice is the most immediate thing you hear but we’re also very keen to make something that is unique to your ears (in terms of sound). It’s all about the little details. I mean, it’s nice for us to able to listen to the album over and over again and still come across layers we forgot were there.”
AlunaGeorge will be making their Australian debut as they party with Fuzzy’s Listen Out tour through September/October, something they are both excited about. I ask about their live show. “We’re developing it right now actually! We’ve got a bunch of new equipment and everything’s working fine. Touch wood. Fingers crossed the baggage handlers are gentle!”
AlunaGeorge have a lot to be excited about. They have managed to merge current electronic trends with an alternative pop aesthetic. I have a feeling the resulting album (which is brilliant, by the way) will carve itself a niche that sits comfortably between commercial label demands and unique artist vision. Sure they are young and have much to learn but that’s the beauty of AlunaGeorge, knowing their potential is yet to be reached but is well on its way there.