Back in the 80s and 90s, housing co-ops in London were a lot more common. Sharing a huge house – previously derelict, then bought and co-owned equally among friends – sounds like an absurdly romantic idea now, when it seems like any spare city space is quickly refilled with M&S branches and expensive, glassy flats. But back then, it was doable. Which is how Georgia – the singer and producer – wound up spending her childhood years in a big flat in Baker Street, central London. It was co-run by her mum, a teacher, and dad, Neil Barnes from the electronic duo Leftfield.
Georgia – now 27 – is telling me this over Facetime from Oklahoma, where she’s been in the studio with Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips (she’s coy about why, exactly, but she sounds excited about what they’ve been working on). It’s morning over there, and she’s just finished off a plate of huevos rancheros for breakfast. But anyway, back to the housing co-op: her bedroom doubled up as Leftfield’s studio, and Georgia tells me she spent those years drenched in dance tracks. “My make-up, as a human, is house and techno,” she says. “Frankie Knuckles, all the Trax records, but also Jeff Mills, Underground Resistance, Model 500... it was played at home constantly. It became embedded into my idea of production, beats, everything.”
The reason we’re chatting about this sort of music specifically, is because Georgia’s new track and video, “Started Out”, which we’re premiering above, sounds like it was born from the sweaty dancefloors of 1989, and pushed into the present day, with a London twang. Full of electronic claps, squelchy bass lines and dreamy, misty-eyed vocals, the whole thing has a throwback feel that Georgia says is probably a result of her using a lot of production equipment from that era. “I used a 909 drum machine, an SH-101 synth… Everything you hear on the recording is analogue,” she says, “But I also wanted it to be poppy. As well as being nostalgic, I wanted stuff to be quite modern, because otherwise it’s just a cheap copy. I wanted to add my flare.”
The visual itself was directed by her friend and collaborator Rosie Marks, who typically shoots on iPhone and has a real knack for capturing the beauty and vibrancy in everyday moments. For this, she just got a bunch of people from the street and had them dancing in a room to the music, in whichever way they felt like. “It was just her on the camera, and her editing it, and that gave me a real lease of life,” Georgia says, talking me through the process. “She loves Gummo, and specifically this scene when the characters are dancing in a basement. So we put ‘Started Out’ over that scene, and then we were like, ‘that’s it.’ But at the same time, we wanted to capture the feeling you have when you hear music you love. It was that simple, really.”
“Started Out” is the first we’ve heard from Georgia in a little while. You’ll probably remember her self-titled debut, which came out in 2015 alongside a bunch of MIA and Missy Elliott comparisons and general awe surrounding the fact she’s also a sick drummer (watch her video for “Move It” for proof). Since then, though, she’s gone kind of quiet, releasing just one track last year called “Feel It” and a recent collab with Shygirl. Georgia says the noise around her first album was so fast-moving, that she wanted to slow down and hone her craft. There was no rush to release more music immediately. “The music always comes first for me,” she explains. “Getting that right is the main goal for me, just being able to have the time to develop as a songwriter, and as a producer.”
So this is where Georgia’s at today – releasing music inspired by those early years, music that bounced off the walls of that housing co-op and seeped into her vernacular. She’s got shit she wants to show the world, but she’s not able to announce it just yet. After our conversation, she tells me she’s going straight back into the studio with Wayne so they can get in the zone and continue. She flies back to the UK tomorrow, but as it’s her last night, they’ll probably have some sort of Halloween party later and she won’t be getting much sleep. “There’s a lot going on here,” she says, half-laughing, the line crackling. I tell her to have a fun last night in Oklahoma, and then we're putting the phone down, 4633 miles apart.
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This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.