For London based producer Georgia Barnes, 2019 was jam-packed with touring, single releases, festival slots and a damn lot of interviews. Luckily, just as 2019 was closing, we managed to find a free slot in Georgia's diary to chat about the past year and to find out about her sophomore album Seeking Thrills. As we catch her, she's spending a few days in London prior to her final live show of 2019. It's early when we talk, yet Georgia is as lively as ever, discussing the lengths of touring the US and how a short residency at a venue in East London secured her a record deal.
Despite it's slow burning connection with its audience, her 2015 debut self-titled album, Georgia, presented an introduction to an artist unafraid of experimentation and easily established Georgia as an incredible pop talent. Written, produced and recorded in her home studios, Georgia became the foundations of an insight into the workings of a tremendous newcomer.
Now, five years later, the second installment of Georgia's trajectory is shaped in the form of Seeking Thrills. Peppered with already hugely popular singles, and interspersed with new, glossy tunes, the album – released tomorrow (10th) – details the growth of a maturing artist and producer. "It's origins lie in dance music," explains Georgia. "It's about euphoria. It's about escapism. It's kind of about love. It's about inclusivity. All these positive messages lie in dance music and I think that's what gives me thrills."
Influenced by the 80s Chicago house and Detroit techno scene, an influence most prominent in the euphoric single "Started Out", Georgia's latest tunes show a richness that was perhaps missing before. Infused with slick house beats and sheer pop brilliance, the influence of this scene has had a monumental impact into the sonic exploration of the record. "This album is completely inspired by Chicago house and Detroit techno," she tells us. "I wanted to go back to the originators of that scene and it was so amazing reading and learning about all the pioneers and amazing singers and discovering thousands upon thousands of songs… I guess the term is I went down a rabbit hole with it all."
Originally planned for release in May 2019, the singles unexpectedly took off. Receiving slots on BBC Radio 1's playlist and a continuous rising number of streams, Georgia and her team decided to delay the record's release in order to let the singles do their thing. "We all saw that the singles were really connecting… we just felt like it wasn't right to suddenly drop a record. It needed time to breathe," Georgia explains. "Like each of these singles have gone onto A-lists at Radio 1… I don't think anyone really predicted this. I think there's one thing about hype and then there's another thing about momentum. It was important for me to listen to the record company – you have to take on their advice sometimes."
And it was advice definitely worth taking, as the anticipation surrounding the album has only grown and continues to build ahead of its release tomorrow. Seeking Thrills is ready to bless the ears to all those patiently waiting to hear it. And with its dark dance-infused soulful wonders, this album is overflowing with Georgia's unique creativity. "This record is a complete reflection of how I've changed and how I'm heading in the right direction," says Georgia. "I knew I needed to be a bit more disciplined with all the production and the song writing, so I had that kind of momentum driving me towards a direction, but the idea of themes has come through looking back and doing these interviews and realising there is a total theme here and there is a total connection to what I was going through."
"The album is about two things really," Georgia further explains. "It's a collection of songs to make the audience just feel empowered to do something, to go seek some kind of modest pleasure, to check in on yourself. I think in this modern day society everyone's working so hard and everyone's constantly moving and changing – sometimes we kind of forget to check in on ourselves. I think the constraints of life can sometimes put you in this, quite self-deprecating routine, and hopefully a listener who is experiencing that can listen to this and feel empowered to do something different and I think that is the kind of message behind this record and that's why it's called Seeking Thrills."
"And then the second thing is that I was going on a sort of personal journey myself," she continues. I found myself in London four or five years ago, really unhealthy, drinking a lot, not being very kind to myself. I decided to kick start a healthy lifestyle and lost the weight that I'd gained and just became a bit healthier in my mind and my body. So these songs are kind of a collection that really are about what I was going through… kind of like a projection of that personal journey."
One stand out track from the album is 2018's single with one-to-watch SHYGIRL. A track about "this hedonistic thing of going to Tenerife with your girls or whoever, and just getting fucked up", "Mellow" exhumes heady house beats with brooding undercurrents and has the ability to make you want to get vibey. "[SHYGIRL] killed it so much on that record" Georgia says excitedly. "Initially for [the track], I really wanted a female rapper and felt like the song could really benefit from it. I heard SHYGIRL and I just really loved the way she rapped, it was more over techno and it was about this sexualised way of MCing. I didn't really have to collaborate with her, she just did it, and I was like 'WOW'."
It's tracks like this, alongside the highly-streamed singles including "About Work The Dancefloor" and "Never Let You Go", and pop-infused numbers like "Til I Own It" and "I Can't Wait", that makes Georgia one of the most exciting artists right now. Despite some tracks feeling slightly lackluster after being presented alongside the 'bangers', tunes for a euphoric comedown if you will, Seeking Thrills as a whole, is an record that invigorates throughout, a snapshot in time where dance music is all that really matters. Seeking Thrills does what it sets out to achieve; to encourage its audience to let loose in the supportive environment of dance music.
After headlining an incredible sold out show at London venue Scala late last year, a moment in her career where "I think I felt very emotional actually", Georgia also spent the year playing across the festival circuit including the likes of Glastonbury, Bilbao BBK Live and Reading & Leeds. "The Georgia fan base is really emerging and they're so up for dancing and loving each other, it's just really cool to see a mixed bunch of people: old, young, gay, straight, black, white. They all look so lovely and that for me, is really nice" she tells. Yet, her appearance on the coveted late night UK TV show Later… with Jools Holland proves to be her highlight of the year. "I've always wanted to play [on the show] and to get that text from my Manager being like we've got it, it was a real highlight" Georgia recollects. "That was a real moment of just pure 'oh my god this is real now', it's what I dreamed about for so many years as a child, and it as just a real highlight to meet Jools."
It's evident that Georgia's artistry is an ever-evolving continuum. The growth since her debut has produced results that she could never have imagined – yet with Domino backing her early on and a father figure in the form of Neil Barnes, founder of 90s electro-duo Leftfield, there was no way she was ever going to be unsuccessful – and with each single, the support has only grown in strength. Still, this only feels like the beginning of Georgia's potential. Seeking Thrills is the re-introduction of an artist soon to be a front runner in the UK dance scene.
And if you're still yet to become a fan, then well, you've yet to seek your thrills.
Seeking Thrills is on January 10th via Domino Record Co.