Before becoming the UK’s most promising pop innovator, 21-year-old Georgia Barnes from Kensal Rise in north London was gunning for an England cap. “Between 13 and 16, I played for QPR and Arsenal’s youth teams,” she says. “I probably shouldn’t say this because of where I’m from, but I support Man United…”
Football’s loss is music’s gain: last year Georgia released ‘Come In’, one of 2014’s most original EPs. The jewel in the crown was ‘Hard Lie’, a rap track with weird rhymes about “juxtaposition shit” that mixed grime, rave and post-punk and showcased the eclectic influences from her musical background.
“I started playing music early,” she says. “When I was eight I sat down at my dad’s drumkit one day.” A degree in music followed, where she gained an interest in Asian and African sounds and began self-recording on a PC. After graduating, Georgia worked in London’s Rough Trade West shop while drumming on early releases for Kwes, Juce and Kate Tempest: “Rough Trade were really supportive. I was in the shop the day my EP came out.”
‘Come In’ turned enough industry heads to land her a deal with Domino Records in December 2014, after which she started work on her self-produced debut album, which is tentatively due out later this summer.,“There’s a lot of heartbreak on it,” she says. “My parents were getting divorced as I was writing it.” Lead single ‘Move Systems’ (out on May 25) gives a taste, and lives up to the expectations set by ‘Hard Lie’. A moody, experimental pop track about “a dealer named Sheila”, it blends R&B vocals, dark synths and tribal rhythms.
“That’s a real person,” she says. “I met her by the canal near the Westway. The song’s about hustlers.” Elsewhere, there’s more heartache (‘Nothing Solutions’), a mystical love song about two people meeting on a mountain (‘Kombine’) and even an abstract ballad (‘Heart Wrecking Album’). “There’s some hard-hitting stuff there,” Georgia says, “and there’s some deep emotion. Pop’s always about fucking love, isn’t it?”
By Huw Nesbitt