One of the U.K.'s most diversely talented musicians right now in undoubtedly George FitzGerald; he is a producer, DJ, instrumentalist, and creative thinker. What makes his music truly unique is that it can be both a dance record and an intelligent composition simultaneously, bending both sound and genre at once. EARMILK is honoured to have had the opportunity to speak with him and learn more about his creative drive.
The last time I saw George FitzGerald live was during a DJ set in Montreal at Newspeak. Since then George has been touring with a live band performing his latest album, All That Must Be, released on March 9th with Double Six Records and Domino.When I had last spoken to George with EARMILK, he was living in Berlin, but he has moved back to London now. He still has a flat in Berlin and visits there often. He says London as a challenging place to be an artist, but it's a very inspiring and creative city as well - it offers a bigger breadth of music than most places. London is one of the best places in the world to be exposed to all sort of sounds. This time, I managed to get a hold of George at the airport on route to a one off performance in Oslo, Norway.
In his new act, George is accompanied by a drummer named Guillaume Jambel, Mike Lesirge on keys, and the singer Obenewa Aboah. George met them organically, for instance he met Mike through Bonobo, who played for a long time in Bonobo's band. He was his first point of contact. Guillaume is a friend of a friend, he DJs as well and runs his own London label, Supremus Records.
Touring has taken a different direction for him in terms of what's required. Logistically it can be overwhelming when you have to navigate all the carry on for the band's equipment. While speaking with me, he was currently trying to have 15 flight cases checked in.
"It's a bit different to taking your rucksack with a pair of headphones, laptop, and a toothbrush. There's this real sensation to being on the road with the band, you enjoy the highs and the lows together."
Taking time to explore new avenues of creativity is a great way to stay engaged while touring with a band or group. Although, as George pointed out, there are inherent challenges and hurdles to overcome. Just as in any form of production, you will face difficulties in software, sound, or finding a signature.
George loves being in the studio, and to him, going on tour with a band is like bringing the studio along as well. He likes to nerd out over the equipment and finds it's an excuse to buy synthesizers and technical toys. Moving from one way of performing to another opens up a whole new area to explore as a musician.
In terms of getting a good grasp of what a live set might sound like, you can hear his single, "Burns", recorded from a "freezing warehouse in East London". The band set up all their gear and played a few tracks together, the album single is published on Youtube and featured below.
The biggest thing on George's radar now, though, is his album release, All That Must Be, out March 9th. On it, his collaboration with Lil Silva is definitely a favourite, "Roll Back". George FitzGerald and Lil Silva recently worked together on in the studio, as you can see below - they're actually very good friends. Lil Silva had asked George to do a remix of one his tracks called "Lines" about two years ago, though they hadn't met before. When George realized the vocal samples were by Lil Silva himself, he knew right away that they would have collaborative fun being in the studio together.
Their time together went so well that they've actually made a few tracks, mostly unreleased. The photo above was from in his studio in London, where they went back over the music and discuss what they wanted to do with each song or how they wanted to release them.
All That Must Be continues with an excellent flow throughout, sounding reminiscent of "Fading Love", but also featuring several harder techno tracks, like "Roll Call" and "Burns."
For George, the motivation to create music has been there from his first album, and for "Fading Love" he wanted to start writing music that was more reflective of his mood and what he was going through at the time. Increasingly he sees the songs are a reflection of an emotional state. They are a reflection of snapshots of his life in the past few years. Such as becoming a father or moving back to London.
His description is accurate enough, touching upon the atmosphere created. You can expect to "hear a sense of relocation and dislocation" at the start of the album.
"There's been a huge change in my life, just reacclimatizing and coming to terms with life being different. That's what the record sounds like to me."
The album artwork is done by an artist named Dines, the co-founder from Studio BLUP, who are a trending graphic design company based out of London. In development, George spoke to Dines, he listened to the record and they ran through a few ideas for the artwork. There was an aesthetic that George wanted and Dines took the idea and expanded on it. "I think the result is really striking; it's been surreal to see it up around London and on posters."
Studio BLUP beautifully states on their website:
"We wanted to create an abstract that really represented the full circle of the main album title called 'All That Must Be', with the dark elements, glitches and clouds. The symbolism behind the artwork is representative of the complexities in life but through that complexity, something equally beautiful can be born."
For an artist who has been around for some time, things are bound to change in any industry, but that is especially true of the music industry. From his 2013 essential mix to now, there had to have been some change in his DJ skills grown and his music taste. Without missing a beat he explained that the music has certainly changed, and within the past 5 years he affirms that he's definitely changed on an individual level. He hasn't listened back to his Essential Mix from 2013 in a long, long time, he explains jokingly. If anything, his DJ skills have gotten better as he's gotten older.
To George, the three most important things as a DJ are being able to emphasize with a crowd and reacting to what they want, selecting the right tracks for that moment, and lastly, being patient enough to create moments of suspense and release.
We both agree that with time, you're happier to stand up and create suspense, not giving people what they want straight away. You're more confident to be up there and read what people want from their faces and body language. At the time of his memorable Essential Mix, Heidi was the guest DJ on BBC Radio 1 and George was her "Future Star" to watch.
"I don't feel like I'm near the end of my career, instead it's about the journey. There is still so much to learn for me, it's only my second album and this is my first time touring live. The band gets better every single performance. I already know what I want to do differently on the third album. You have to keep improving, that's human nature."
George will be going on a U.K. and European tour for a few weeks with a live band to celebrate the release of his new album. Shortly after he is going to Australia for a few one off shows as a DJ. During April and May, he is touring North America with the band, which brings him into summer and festival season. Expect to hear all new material from the album.
Find a nearly full roaster of George FitzGerald's upcoming tour dates in 2018 below.
- SchwuZ, Berlin, Germany
- Nouveau Casino, Paris, France
- Ancienne Belgique - AB Club, Brussels, Belgium
- The Haunt, Brighton, UK
- Islington Assembly Hall, London, UK
- The Art School, Glasgow, UK
- Manchester Gorilla, Manchester, UK
- The Independent, San Francisco, CA, US
- The Echo, Los Angeles, CA, US
- Kilby Court Gallery, Salt Lake City, UT, US
- Larimer Lounge, Denver, CO, US
- Subterranean, Chicago, IL, US
- The Drake Hotel, Toronto, ON, Canada
- Bar le Ritz PDB, Montreal, QC, Canada
- Great Scott, Allston, MA, US
- Rough Trade NYC, Brooklyn, NY, US
- All Points East - Victoria Park, London, UK
- Love Saves The Day - Bristol, UK
- Sonar Festival - Barcelona, Spain
- Farr Festival - Bygrave Woods, Baldock, UK
- Melt! Festival - Ferropolis - Stadt Aus Eisen Arena, Gräfenhainichen, Germany
- Bluedot Festival - Jodrell Bank, Macclesfield, UK
- Nova Batida - Lx Factory, Lisbon, Portugal