Georgia Anne Muldrow: Overload

Las Vegas based artist Georgia Anne Muldrow has had quite the career. Crafting beats since she was 17, Georgia made her production debut in 2006 with an LP on Stones Throw Records, and in 12 years she’s shown an unstoppable creativity, recording 16 albums under a number of aliases and shining as a vocalist, songwriter, musician and all round visionary.

“You’re my Jay Electronica… you take it there,” a quote taken from Tribe Called Quest’s Ai Shaheed Muhammad, just one of a long list of admirers that includes Mos Def, Erykah Badu, Bilal, Madlib, and Robert Glasper, who requested Georgia contribute to “Miles Ahead” soundtrack in 2016.

Her first album in three years come as 13-track piece, Overload. Marking a debut on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder imprint, many wonder why this musical marriage hasn’t happened before, with both parties having continuously pushed the boundaries of what modern soul music can be through their own twisted lens. Speaking with Georgia, we discuss the making of her new record, her ongoing versatility as an artist, and what she’s still yet to try.

Diving straight into what’s new, how does it feel to land on Brainfeeder?

It’s dope, I love it. Especially the live show element, to represent with them live, it feels like a right fit. Everybody is extreme so I like that, I really dig it.

You have a long history and friendship with Flying Lotus, why does it feel right to land on Brainfeeder for this album and at this particular point in your career?

I can’t analyse it too deep but I feel honoured to be a part of it, and I’m honoured that Lotus wanted to work with us. It was Dudley (Perkins) and Aloe (Blacc) behind me at first, but it’s cool that Lotus believe in it and wanted to join us.

The conversation has been a lot different from other labels, and i’m hyped to be on a leftfield imprint. But it’s the most sensitive feeling record I’ve ever done, so it’s all very strange. It’s cool though, I like it strange.

I know Fly Lo executively produced the album, but how much involvement was there from the label and him whilst making the record? Has Overload differed much to previous recording processes?

Oh it was done already, but Lotus helped us to streamline the record. Originally there were over 20 songs on the record, so he really helped us with sequencing and giving the album more of a flow.

Up until that point I was like ‘It’s got to be all of the songs, I’ve got to tell a story’. But yeah, as far as getting the songs done, then Dudley, he’s the one that helped decide what isn’t going to work. Aloe helped us secure things, like the artwork, to make sure there could be a record to share. Lotus just completed those alley oops with streamlining the record.

As well as those three, this record has to be one of your heaviest on collaborations and working with other producers…

This album is kind of telling people where I’ve been. People have been telling me I’ve taken a hiatus, I’m like damn, I’ve been real underground with it because I’ve been collaborating a lot, doing productions for other people. I guess ‘cos it’s been more on an artist community level, people thought I wasn’t doing no music at all. To me, I feel like I was working every day.

But for me my audience is the artist community, my loyalties are with them first, homies from all over the world. So this is like a snapshot of that, it’s not a complete picture frame but its a small selection of what I’ve been up to. I’ve collaborated on like 50 different records over the past year, they’ve just been more grass roots. So I just feel like it’s only right to bring that grassroots feeling to whatever I’m doing next.

Is there a role you prefer as an artist, or do they all fall into one?

It depends you know, but I think I feel the most joy when I’m just producing. I love it so much, it’s my favourite thing to do. My next favourite thing is rocking shows, because it still happens to have things to do with other people, you know what I mean? You’re giving them something right there and then, they can think for themselves whether they like it or not right there, so you’ve got to make sure to rock that crowd.

But producing for other people to rock the crowd, that’s really fun to! When you see people rocking it from what you supplied, I like that!

How did it feel with this album then, as a lot of the beats weren’t yours?

I love it. If somebody gives me an opportunity so I can be doing what I love to do for a living, then I’m going to give them all of that gratitude to the performance that they need from me. I just jam on it, try to make it the best song I can, and some songs just really spill out to me.

With Mike & Keys in particular, we were just collating more and more. I was hooking them up with session files from Reason so that they could chop it up, and in return they’d send me some awesome songs and say ‘hey what can you do with this?’. That’s how Overload came about, then Dudley was telling me I’ve got to put it out. That’s why we named the record after that song, because that song is what got everything in commotion.

Your music never shys away from important social and political themes, how important is it for you to get a message across from your music and your voice? Do you think enough artists are trying to do the same through their influence right now?

I feel like there’s never really enough people, until everybody is singing about it, it’s never enough. These issues affect everybody. We need more people talking about it not from a trendy place, but from an authentic place, when people are willing to take the time to search their mind and look at the things that they feel inside.

There should be more and more people doing that, music shouldn’t just be something that sells. It’s that slave mentality that’s in our economy, ‘let’s market this, let’s sell this’, creating these fantasies when people are dying out there.

Ain’t nothing changed with the weather for a very long time, and I’ve just got to be real when I make a song. No matter what style, it has to be real. It has to say something that speaks to the suffering of what my people go through, I have to be there at the side of the crime. So we’ve got to heal back first, then we can talk about some other stuff.

Your sound to me has always held a soulful character with heavy and sometimes quite ‘out there’ electronic elements, where did your love for melding both of these styles comes from?

It came from around me. My dad was definitely electrified, he was making amps and all these gadgets that would go with his guitar and stuff.

I feel like I really got into it once when I was in a production environment, working with some very good musicians, people who had big reputations, this was when I was young, about 19. I was trying to play them what I’d been making on my MPC for them to play live, and everybody was telling me what was wrong with what I had, like ‘oh no your drums is off, your bass is coming in too soon’. From that I just went into my own thing, I needed to figure out what I wanted to get out of my music first. That end discovery just turned into a whole lot of things.

But the leftfield thing, I’ve got to do it, I’ve got to go on my explorations. It’s really fun when I can take that leftfield and make it more of a nuance, and be able to make it into more of a direct idea. That’s the most important thing, to be direct in your communication. Now it’s just a matter of refining all of these raw sound minerals that I’ve been mining and seeing what’s really there, and I feel like this record is that.

You learnt a lot about your voice from your mum, who was also a singer?

Our voices are a lot alike. If you hear both of us sing, you’ll know we’re related, she vocally sounds like my Mother! I see the voice as an instrument. It’s a wild instrument because it depends on what you ate the day before, it depends on the weather outside. You know how some people have got a saxophone and they’ve got to go through situations with the reed of the sax, anything can change the sound, and they have to go through all these different mouth pieces, I feel like singing is like that. There’s so many different variables that can affect your sound when you sing, so the deal is you’ve got to approach some state of mind, where you can use all of it.

That’s what I’ve been doing. The greatest teacher singing wise has been life. Like all the greats, when you hear Aretha, RIP, she’s using her life and really examining the different pains that she went through with her voice. That’s what I try to do as well, make sense of the world through the tone of voice.

So when your making a beat, is it natural for you to want jump on your songs or do you know when a beat should be left alone?

Sometimes I just want the hook to go around. I feel like people can get information in smaller bits more effectively. I mean yeah, sometimes it’s just a beat, a vibe. Sometimes I wonder if somebody else will be able to lock into the rhythm. Like, will they be able to hear what I’m hearing over this? You wonder if they can match your imagination.

I think my favourite beat of yours has to be ‘Pad Control’. I definitely lock into that one, it’s too short! 

I knew you were going to say that. Everybody who’s favourite is ‘Pad Control’ always says it the same way. That track was a vibe. We were living up in the national park, they call them ‘tiny houses’ now. Dudley and I lived there and it opened up to the nature outside. That’s what brought that sound.

So going back to the album, how has the record translated to a live setting, with your band The Righteous?

Oh yeaaah! That’s what I’m most excited about to be real. We just let it loose. I can’t even begin to explain the joy I feel from playing live, it’s such a freeing thing. With The Righteous band, I think we’ve been playing for two years, and I’ve found something else that I was trying to get out of me. My inner child tantrums. I’ve found a way to get it out, in the context of a song like ‘Overload’.

With the songs on this record I’m able to do a lot. We reimagine songs like ‘Black Man’ into a reggae song, stuff like that. Being able to reinterpret the music, and really have a healthy environment with the musicians so that they are free to reinterpret the music too.

But making the music with other people, in that moment on stage, right then and there, that shit is dope! It’s incredible. To be producing that while on stage, that’s what I like. It’s like real time producing. When you watch James Brown, he was the first MPC you know, he did that first, loops and all that. To be able to be a part of something like that and put my own twist on it is fun! Anything can happen on stage if you want it to.

So what’s your role, do you move from instrument to instrument or conduct the whole band like James Brown?

You know I’m multitasking bro! But yeah I’m normally on the Congas, I like percussion. Percussion is the closest thing to the beat pads, it’s the closet thing to a lunch table, hitting stuff! That’s the instrument that’s closest to my heart.

It’s fun to just step back and not say anything and let someone else lead. But I don’t want no dull moments, no moments people can talk over. We’re not mellow like that, it has to be intense. Even if we’re playing quiet it has to be intense. When I’m directing I’m just directing the band to free it up, to have more fun. Hopping around, falling down and everything. I love it. I like having my James Brown moments, where I can live out my rock and roll!

Looking forward, is there a creative area you’d still like to try?

I want to score a movie, and I want to score experimental theatre. I want to do some performance art type stuff with other people. I think I’ve got a lot to learn before those things happen though, but scoring a movie would be the first thing! I’d also like to create my own hardware. But these things, I’ve just got to stack things on top of another, I still need to experience more first.

Overload is out now on Brainfeeder.

Buy it here

Words: Callum Wright

Featured Image: Drew Gurian

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