The rise and rise of HAAi
It’s Friday afternoon and London’s sweltering. GEoRGiA’s mates are meeting up in the park, but she’s "studio-bound", and on the way to completing another new tune. "It’s just what the job requires," she tells me cheerfully down the phone, her voice only rippling with the excitement of what that "job" entails.
Considering that indie label Kaya Kaya Records have only just released GEoRGiA’s debut EP, ‘Come In’, four tracks of among the most adventurous, boundless London pop you’ll hear this summer, some might scoff at an answer viewing music as anything approaching a job, which eludes so many ambitious young people these days. But music is very much a full-time affair for GEoRGIA, something that started right after school, where she fell in with Kwes and effectively launched herself as a session drummer in his live band. "Touring with Kwes was a massive game-changer for me," she says, "The sort of scene he’s associated with… I got to meet Mica [Levi, of Micachu & the Shapes] and then all the Warp crowd. I found myself playing electronic festivals, seeing TNGHT for the first time in SXSW, and it was just like, 'Shit… this is what I want to do.’"
After finishing up at the studio following our chat, GEoRGiA's weekend saw her hit the drum kit for JUCE (Kaya Kaya boss Cherish’s sparkling girl group) at Lovebox on one day, while the next day was all about triggering samples on an electronic SPD in Kate Tempest’s live band at Latitude. Not a bad way to spend a weekend, really, and despite the demands that these different endeavours bring, she’s feeding off being caught up in it. "I’m just riding this wave of playing with all these amazing artists," she says.
Those in the early throes of a solo project will often be eager to talk through how much music has been ingrained into them from their first breath, but it’s less of a stretch in GEoRGiA's case. "My dad’s a musician as well, and from a very early age he encouraged me to pick up the guitar, pick up percussion." At six years old her dad remembers her plonked in front of the TV trying to imitate advert jingles. "Children’s TV programmes too," she says, "The little mad musical things they had in there." GEoRGiA was drumming before she’d hit double figures, and was writing her own songs barely out of primary school. She was a proud pop girl growing up, always awaiting the next big hit on Radio 1. She points out that it’s her and about "three hundred billion people" who’d name the give-a-shit genius of Missy Elliott as "an inspiration that’s far beyond anything." But then, how many 11-year-olds do you know who named their hamster Missy Elliott?
As well as attending the Brit School to hone her talents, GEoRGiA got Logic when she was 16, and the influence of that on her development is all over ‘Come In’. She fell for the intricacies found in production, and name-checks Arca’s work as blowing her mind in recent years, while noting that the guttural screeches that sound out across the EP are influenced directly by Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’. Along with her dabbling in HudMo-like horn blasts on Hard Lie This, it’d be fair to say there are plenty of contemporary production signposts to be found, but the patchwork is woven with a deft touch and energetic grit. The comparably short, sharp, but ideas-drenched work of LAFAWNDAH or Tirzah comes to mind: the title track starts the EP with heavyset backing but an open embrace, Come into my life, I want to fall into yours. By Hard Lie This, GEoRGiA’s piled on the attitude, channelling the let-it-rip-on-the-mic mindset of artists like Roxanne Shanté and M.I.A. – something which she craves to hear more of in modern music.
GEoRGiA is crystal clear in the debt she owes to Cherish Kaya and Katy Partridge of Kaya Kaya Records as providing the encouragement to get this solo project moving. Along with Cherish and Katy, she’s loving having "a team of girls, of women" working with her, one that reaches to management and through to press and radio.
GeoRGiA is as down-to-earth and open an interviewee as you could hope for, but her sense of ambition lingers repeatedly. She’s already in the process of working on an album, whittling down 30-40 tracks down to workable tracklist. The tune she’s been on before we speak doesn’t have a name yet, but she tells me it’s inspired by Oneohtrix Point Never’s Problem Areas and came together after messing about with a guitar line and transferred into onto a keyboard, and reckons it could end up as a single. She’s happy to think big and dream too, and with a song as rounded and powerful as Be Ache behind her, why shouldn’t she? "The goal is to get the call from either Missy Elliott’s people, or Kanye’s people, and be like, 'Yo! Come over to America!'" she says, "Do you know what? That would make me the happiest girl ever."