Talking Stage Presence and Art Practice with George Turner
We took to Skype to meet the Wellington-based artist, and talked about the rich and anarchic post punk EP, 'Thank You For Your Time.'
If you're tallying the number of post punk EPs that are coming out of the millennial malaise, you can count George Turner's Thank You For Your Time among the many. Previously Max Worth—and previously more synth-driven—the young Wellingtonian grew up on The Clean, The Chills, and Connan Mockasin. Which may well be why guitars are beginning to seep into George's more recent work. We met over Skype, me in Melbourne and George in Wellington, to talk art practice, stage presence, and wanting to be Mick Jagger.
George! How are you?
I'm pretty stressed at the moment.
Oh god, oh no. What's happened?
It's the last week of uni, so it's crazy right now.
Uh oh. A terrifying time, to be sure. What are you studying?
What kinda art do you make?
And you're doing mid-semester projects?
Yeah. Mostly group work, which is pretty hard.
Group work is the sole reason I dropped out of university.
That is how I'm feeling right now.
I'm very sorry to hear that. Lucky you're not working on your EP at the same time.
No, I actually finished up the EP and the upcoming album before I started school. I had it all planned out in terms of releases and things. Which I actually thought was a good idea but now I'm like, "Oh, I'm going to sit on my album for seven months?"
Yeah, what happens seven months later when you think, "I don't mean that anymore…"
Well it's been six weeks and I'm already like, ugh.
Fuck. I feel like that's the crucial mistake of anyone making any art at all—no offence—you basically have to finish to work and put it out immediately and move on because life changes so much.
Yeah, totally. And so much of my work is an emotional response to something so why on Earth would I sit on that.
Yeah. Maybe you could release the album and then remix it into something that feels more relevant.
I used to do that! I used to have a project called Max Worth and I'd make an EP in a day and then spend three weeks re-doing it, then I'd release it three weeks later. But after a while you get bored of that.
Yeah, as much as it's nice to create it can be very draining.
It's so draining.
So how do you feel about the EP then?
I'm really proud of this EP. It's a lot more real. I haven't really used guitars before, at least not to this extent. I made it so I could play it with a band. When I use a lot of synths it can be hard to find people to play with me in a small city like Wellington.
Totally. Are you enjoying having people play with you and add to the whole thing?
Definitely. I really like that we've got drum machines and a live kit, that makes it really interesting. And the spark between different musicians is real cool. Rather than me just sitting in my room.
Right. Which is not healthy. It's nice to watch people interact live, too.
Yeah, I prefer going to a band show than watching someone perform over a DJ.
What's your stage presence like?
I love playing. I love it. I get really nervous, but as soon as I'm on stage, I come into my element I think. Sometimes I think there's other parts of me that pop out and do it for me.
Are you an introvert otherwise?
I wonder what the psychology behind that is, because it seems like a really common thing among musicians.
I read something in Greek mythology about a daemon, a spirit that attaches to your back and that's the creative being. You're not the creative being, that is? I thought that was really cool, just a little backpack of creativity.
Haha, just like one of those beer hats with straws going into your mouth.
Yeah! That's the other reason you become a musician.
Free booze! So what's the goal for this year?
I want to travel this stuff around. I'm planning Canada and the West Coast, but the end goal is London. I wanted to move to Melbourne but it's so cliche.
There'll be none of you left!
So what were you listening to while you were making the EP?
I tend to go through three month periods of loving different genres, where I sort of over-saturate myself with one sound, and at that time I was really into darkwave and post punk. Black Marble, artists like that. But I was also inspired by Blood Orange and Arca. So I wanted to get a bit of that in there. Now I can't even listen to it anymore though.
Post punk and new wave and darkwave are really coming back huh? I wonder if it's political, because, you know, often in times of political unrest punk and darker sounds are where the lower middle classes find solace.
Yeah, well that's where it all begun isn't it? I think so, for sure. For me personally I think it was more about American trap being everywhere and I got to a point where I couldn't listen to it anymore.
Ha, fair enough. Yeah it's huge isn't it. Finally, do you remember the first record you ever bought?
When I was about six years old I went to a Rolling Stones concert with my mum. I thought I was Mick Jagger with this long hair, and I had a Led Zeppelin t-shirt. I had the Forty Licks compilation album. It was great.
Today on Noisey we premiere the video for "You Called Me." Watch it below, and listen to Thank You For Your Time below that.
All photos courtesy of Jono Verrall.