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Piano, ukulele, guitar, cello, trumpet, melodica, bass, percussion, brass, woodwind, strings, vibraphone, toy instruments and... a cordless electric drill.
These are just some of the dazzling collection of noises that Melbourne songstress Georgia Fields combines into her heartfelt tunes. Famous for incorporating recorded animal noises and the buzzing of power tools into her music, Georgia has made all of Melbourne fall in love with her, including some of notable citizens like Frente!'s Angie Hart.
Georgia's self-released 2007 EP Drama on the High Seas of Emotion secured the mistress of music a spot on Triple J's Unearthed Pop Charts for its title track, and her limited edition EPs packaged in delightful re-fashioned Little Golden Books sold out faster you can say, "awesomeness".
Miss Fields has a very new, full-length debut album in the works, but she managed to share some love with Paper-Deer.
I once wrote that your business card should read, “song bird, hostess, music composer, musician and magician.” What is your secret to such magical performances?
I don’t know that I have a secret recipe for magical-ness, I think it is something less tangible than that. When a gig feels really special, it’s usually to do with a whole kaleidoscope of little things falling into place. I guess shows tend to go well if I’m prepared, inspired and slightly nervous… I’m kinda superstitious too, so I usually take some small positive random happening (a green run of traffic lights, or getting my eyeliner on straight the first time) as a ‘good sign’ and then the rest is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You’ve managed to get some serious kudos in three years since your debut, with rave reviews from Beat, ABC, Drum Media, Inpress and Frankie. Tell us about your three adventure-packed years to get to this point.
I was living in London in 2006 and working in administration for a top corporate business consultancy firm. I’d been there a while and one morning one of the directors forgot my name, and called me ‘sweetie’. I’d been dabbling in music since I was a child, but this was the slap-in-the-face awakening I needed to get back onto the creative path. I realised if I didn’t make some kind of radical move soon, I’d be working in a job I hate being called ‘sweetie’ for the rest of my life. I booked a sneaky plane trip home as soon as I could and called in sick from Bangkok so I could still get my last pay cheque. Once I was home, I immediately reconnected with my childhood friend Judith Hamann, who had to my convenience developed a remarkable career as a classically trained, experimental cellist. I started writing and we started arranging music together, releasing an independent EP in 2007 and then focusing on playing as much as I could live. I think I played at least one show a week for 18 months! It was gruelling but such an essential part of developing as a musician. Judith taught me a lot about working with classical musicians, and how to voice string, brass and woodwind arrangements. I got lucky enough to play Queenscliff, Apollo Bay and St Kilda Festivals a few times… Supported Angie Hart, Abby Dobson and The Wilson Pickers… Met producer Greg Arnold through my study at NMIT Fairfield… And finally secured funding from Arts Victoria to record the songs I’d been busy writing since 2007. The album is due for release on 9 October, which is only a few weeks away!
I hear you also have a debut LP in the works. Can you let us in on a few secrets?
The majority of it was recorded in two weeks at Atlantis Sound, in Port Melbourne. It was mixed by David McCluney (who has worked with The Drones, Dan Kelly, and Nick Cave to name-drop a few!), and then sent to be mastered in Nashville USA by the legendary Jim Demain. You might have heard Jim’s handy work on albums by Patty Griffin, Justin Townes-Earl, Tim Finn, Dolly Parton, June Carter-Cash… and perhaps most importantly, the Dirty Dancing sound track. Yes, that’s right, folks. Cue mirror ball. “I… had… the time of my life…”
Has your sound evolved from your very first tracks, to this debut LP?
I would be very disappointed if it hadn’t! I think the album is very different to my first EP (“Drama on the High Seas of Emotion”). The first recordings were so unashamedly ‘acoustic pop’; this LP still stands firmly in the popular song idiom, but there are more classic, timeless elements. The orchestral arrangements add an ‘ageless’ quality to the songs, I hope. I also branched out with some more adult topics, and some odd time signatures.
Will there be a toy instruments and a drill?
Yes. Yes there will. And a celeste. And a male choir. And a Hammond organ.
You’ve been known to invite the amazing Angie Hart onto stage. How did you first meet her? Does she still make you star struck?
I first met Angie when I supported her in May 2009. In the lead up to the gig, her manager sent me an email saying something like, ‘Angie wants to know if you’d like to sing a duet with her on the night’, and I practically head-butted my computer screen with excitement. We met for a coffee before we started working on the song, but I had had a bike accident a few days prior, and my face was all bandaged up and I couldn’t smile properly. I tried so hard to be ‘cool’ and ‘laissez-faire’ but I was so obviously a total dork and totally star-struck. She obviously didn’t notice how much of a dork I was, because we’re still friends. When we hang out I don’t see her as ‘Angie Hart the big star’, she’s just my peer, and a dear mate… But occasionally I’ll remember some piece of Frente! history, like the fact that I saw them play at Rod Laver when I was 14, and I get a few stars in my eyes. Ang is pretty quick to pull me up on it though. I think there is a bit of competition between us about who is the bigger dork.
I also love your cover of Sweet Child ‘O Mine. Are you a closet Guns ‘N Roses fan?
I’m not a closet Guns ‘N Roses fan, I just really love the theatrical-ness of that song! Have you ever seen educated and esteemed jazz musicians bust out their best Axel impersonation (knowing all the words) when that song comes on iTunes shuffle at 4 in the morning? I have. It has that kind of effect on people. It was fun to manipulate and reinterpret that song. When I start it up at shows, I’m often amazed at who recognises it first.