A product of the BRIT School that launched the careers of Adele, Amy Winehouse and Jessie J, 21-year-old Georgia Barnes (often stylised GEoRGiA) could have been lining up for England in the recent Women’s FIFA World Cup had the lure of the drums not proved too hard to resist.
The daughter of Leftfield’s Neil Barnes was once a gifted soccer player, serving as defender for both QPR Ladies and Arsenal Ladies, before switching her attention to music. Inspired by Prince’s regular stickswoman Sheila E, she started playing the drums, and after completing her degree studies, took up the instrument professionally.
Georgia subsequently provided backing for the likes of Mercury Prize-nominated poet Kate Tempest, hotly-tipped producer KWES and ultra-cool girl group Juce, while also working on her own material and holding down a job at London’s Rough Trade West record shop.
2014’s critically-acclaimed Come In E.P. first showcased her self-described “post-punk hip-hop soul” sound to a wider audience, inviting comparisons with the likes of M.I.A., Fever Ray and Hudson Mohawke, and led to a record deal with Domino Records.
A semi-concept album based on a young woman encountering heartache in London, Georgia’s self-titled first studio effort further cemented her status as one of the most adventurous new electronic pop acts on the block when it hit the shelves back in August. Produced, written and played entirely by the versatile multi-instrumentalist, the album’s twelve shape-shifting tracks tackle everything from dancehall (“Move Systems”), to otherworldly R&B (“Be Ache”) to grimy rave (“Nothing Solutions”) with the utmost ease.
Elsewhere, songs such as “Heart Wrecking Animals,” a slow-building ballad inspired by her parents’ separation, and “Kombine,” a mystical love song based on two people meeting on a mountain, prove she can also add lyricist to her list of many talents.
Of course, Georgia’s leftfield approach means she’ll find it hard to reap the same rewards as the BRIT School’s more high-profile alumni, but few of its graduates are likely to produce music as ambitious.
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