Their own brand of ‘Cool’: in conversation with Georgia June (Music Insight)
The setting was a warm Saturday afternoon in Sydney. I was visiting an old mate of mine in Glebe, and meandering our way through several of the town’s boutique bars. As the afternoon was winding down, we made our way into The Record Crate, a favourite amongst musos and thirsty locals alike.
As we sat down to drink and enjoy the old vinyl music collection, the sounds of guitars and drums emanated from upstairs. Naturally, my mate and I were drawn to it, and made our way up the narrow stair case to see a bunch of five musos practising for their upcoming gig that night. We got chatting.
Now, here we are, only a few short months later. And what a crazy few months it has been for that band, Georgia June. Since they launched their debut track, Cool, they have experienced a rapid rise in attention, with the song opening at No. 2 on the AMRAP Metro Chart.
The band’s namesake and frontwoman found out about the single’s success while she was at work. To say she was surprised was an understatement.
“The song was written about a year-and-a-half ago. It was after a party,” Georgia June tells Music Insight.
“I have never been seen to be very popular or very cool at school, and at this party I didn’t really fit in. So, I came home and I was thinking about the night and how people were just doing things purely because it was ‘being what you should do’, to be conforming. And I just wrote this song. It happened really quickly. I tend to write really quickly.”
June always had a passion for music, even from a young age. A thriving penchant for fem-rock artists like Blondie, The Divinyls, Stevie Nicks and the Pretenders and Talking Heads, as well as contemporary artists like Pink, fuelled her love of music.
“Speaking in Tongues is an album that I pretty much know off the back of my hand,” June admits.
“Pink is just incredible. The thing I love about her is that she never has not spoken about what she believes in. She’s not afraid to just say it as it is, point out the problem, and be completely honest about it. All her music and lyrics are so honest. You can hear it when she sings it live. She was my first concert ever, and was pretty much the reason why I wanted to do music.”
Her appreciation of the craft saw her reach out to many musicians, and gave her the experience of a lifetime when she went to work for Billboard in New York.
“[New York] is very inspiring. It makes you want to create all the time. It’s a weird, weird environment,” she explains.
“I always knew what I wanted to do and I started reaching out to people. New York had always been a dream of mine, since I was really little. Just, going there. Living there. Seeing what it was like. I reached out to all these different people, and eventually these guys from Billboard really liked my demos.
“Next thing you know, I’m on a plane there and meeting with them in this massive office. They wanted to mentor me, so I had to be there for a long period of time. I was sitting in on meetings. I was able to meet amazing people, do songwriting workshops over there. It was just insane.”
It was here in New York that she met the Australian producers who would go on to help her craft tracks like Cool, as well as much of the band’s forthcoming material.
“I went into their studio thinking it was just a home studio, and it was this giant, professional studio. I’m still in awe of how big it was. I was in shock the whole time!” she laughs.
While the studio where she recorded Cool left her in shock, there was no surprise behind the chemistry of her band mates when they first began to play music together.
Having already played several gigs with her bassist Joe Plunkett, along with knowing guitarist Lewis Mosley in high school, it was her meeting with guitarist Jack Johnston and drummer James Spittaler that led to the forming of the project.
“Although our name is ‘Georgia June’ I always wanted it to be a band project. It has my name on it, but we are very much a band,” June explains.
“The minute I met them all together; we all went out for coffee… we just got along really well, we are really good friends. When it came to music, we all just sit down and arrange things. It’s not me, it’s a very collaborative space. I’m very fortunate that we have good musical chemistry.
“It’s a mix of different things, a mix of where we want the project to be. You can’t really guess where something is going to go. I’m a big believer that the song will go where it needs to go; when you start writing it, it will pave its own path. You just got to let it go. So, we just bring our different influences to the project and to the writing, but it all comes together.”
After the success of Cool, the band plans to release another single, followed by more gigs around Sydney and potentially beyond. That’s not all June herself will be involved with: she has applied to be a part of the NSW Youth Advisory Council, which advises the State Government on issues of importance to younger people.
“Some might see it as really nerdy, but it’s actually really interesting. I really enjoy it, being involved with that kind of stuff. Looking at decisions involving young people,” says June.
“I think there’s a long way to go in terms of youth culture being heard, especially the arts culture. Here in Sydney, there isn’t a huge amount you can get involved in because of age restrictions, even the restrictions on live music.
“Performing licenses are so expensive, so you can’t always blame the bars and pubs. My fifteen-year-old self only wanted to go and see the band she wanted to see, and I couldn’t do that ever. Even youth services, making people aware of those services because they aren’t often aware of them.
“I don’t believe in shutting up. If there is a problem, it’s best to talk about it.”
With a new single and tour coming soon, the sky is the limit for June and her band. But what’s clear is their upfront honesty.
June knows exactly who she is and what she stands for. Like the song’s title, that’s damn cool.
To check out the latest gigs and news, check out Georgia June’s Facebook page.