Photo: Fiona Garden
AlunaGeorge is the English duo of singer Aluna Francis and producer George Reid. Notably since 2012, the two artists have conjoined each other’s wondered knack: Reid’s intricately beautiful electronic excursions of beats and Francis’ endearing British vocals have yielded one of the most prolific “future pop” acts to be enjoyed by various fans of electronic, pop, and R&B—genres they valiantly amalgamate on almost every single one of their records. They were undeniably on to something with their first single “You Know You Like It” last year, and they returned on July 29 with their debut album Body Music. We got the chance to raise some of our accrued inquiries with Aluna and George a few days before they enjoyed the release of their new album.
Check out the Body Music Tour dates here.
The spontaneous way in which you guys first came together seems so new age-typical. George, what was it exactly that piqued your interest on Aluna’s early band’s song “Sweetheart” to remix it back in’09?
George: Her voice, it stands out a bloody mile. I hadn’t heard anything quite like it. The music behind it was great as well—really weird, I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on.
What was the first song you two recorded together after that?
Aluna: “Double Sixes.”
George: It was sort of weird, wonky, squelchy bass music.
Aluna, your vocal contribution to AlunaGeorge is widely considered as 90s-aspirant R&B, with particular reference to your melodies and song subjects. Is this description something you would agree with?
Aluna: I would allow it as like an interpretation, but that’s not where I’m coming from. I think my influences are a lot more, kind of here in my voice—I love Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, PJ Harvey, The Knife, that’s kind of who I’m directly influenced by.
Is there any sort of linear approach that you go about when songwriting as AlunaGeorge?
Aluna: No. Each time we come to a song, we’ll have sort of a jump-off point that’s always different. It’ll be mainly who’s inspired that particular day with a melody, some lyrics, a beat or noise. The song moving forward from there will depend on the other person vibing off it or not.
So kind of a bounce back and fourth approach usually?
Production wise, the pop sensibility that you guys evoke is still usually embedded in electronic music.
George: I suppose so on my end, yea. Its always really important for us to try and make the actual songs true to a harmony, a melody and lyrics. That is the most important thing for us and it’s often the hardest thing to do right. Once we’re happy with that we’ll either scale back or really go to town and make some weird noises.
Aluna: When we’re writing we’ll often switch between piano, guitar, and beat arrangements on the computer. The noises you hear on songs are an instrument in themselves—they have to be special in themselves, it can’t be noise for the sake of noise it has to be significant to the song structure.
On the electronic front, are there any dance acts/artists from the UK or anywhere else whom you are fond off?
George: There’s plenty. There’s a guy over here, Ftse—and he’s making some beautiful electronic music that isn’t a million miles away from what we’re doing. He makes his music sound super super fat. We both really enjoyed Flume’s album too. We’ve also got Bondax.
Aluna: Two Inch Punch just released a song with Sam Smith [“Safe With Me”] which is really cool.
George: There’s really so many amazing producers and musicians now.
It seems like you guys have some great shows cut out for you, as I hear that most stops of the North American leg for your album tour are almost all sold out already.
Aluna: Yeah, we found out a couple of days ago we were like ahhhhh!
George: We had just returned from a festival at the airport and our manager told us the shows in America are nearly sold out, it was pretty exciting.
About your shows, are there any qualities of your music that don’t translate completely from the studio? What does the stage usually look like?
Aluna: The live show was always going through tweaks and changes. But I think we’re at a stage now where we’re really enjoying doing the live shows. Sonically we’ve got a good balance between what you hear on the record and what you would expect to hear live. If there are things that don’t translate then those are the things that aren’t the core elements of those songs.
George: I think the main thing that doesn’t translate lies in the fact that, at the end of the day, we don’t have enough hands on stage to play all the instruments in the record. We have it sounding as close as we can to the record, but lot of people are beginning to see it as a balancing act.