After a breakneck introduction to the big time, London duo AlunaGeorge appear to have taken it all in their stride. The pair have been shouted about by some of British music’s heavyweights such as Zane Lowe and Annie Mac. Arguably even more impressive were the much deserved nods from the establishment; the band were nominated for a Brit Award this year, as well as being named as second in BBC’s Sounds of 2013… without having released an album. Not that any of this has fazed them. They still treat music with reverence, as if were a gift to them, and have seen the fruits of their labour go from accolade to accolade. All the while keeping their feet on the ground. State met with AlunaGeorge to discuss music, expectation, acknowledgement and Arthur’s Day. They have since performed at the Trinity Ball and last weekend’s Longitude Festival in Marlay Park.
How has 2013 been for you so far?
Aluna Francis: It’s been fantastic. We’ve literally been following on from one project to the next…and I guess we still haven’t seen anything yet in terms of shows.
George Reid: Yeah, it’s been quite quiet on the gig front, so far…
AF: But our diary is still full, actually its choc-a-bloc.
Is that because the album is yet to come out?
AF: I guess it is, but the summer will be busy.
GR: Plus, the festival season starts then so that has a lot to do with it, we did a few festivals last year but … and we were lucky to have gotten to play them because a lot of the ground work is done, we know the festivals and what’s expected.
Have you played here before?
AF: Yeah, we played here for Arthur’s Day, in Dakota I think it was? Wow … Arthur’s Day … people literally squeezed into the tiniest spaces, girls leaning in chatting to us, trying to get our attention in the middle of a song … “Oi, how’s it going?” … “Erm…we’re playing!” They really get so close, it was great. Apart from the chatting!
GR: And what’s more, you only get five minutes to get ready to perform, and the doors are open. And we had a full band, so yeah, a lot of people squeezed into small spaces that probably don’t have much live music.
AF: That’s true, and thankfully our sound guy was on it, though. He was great and really did good job under the circumstances. Especially with people talking to us right beside the mic.
GR: It was a good night though, we were on early so we got to hang out for the rest of the night, and it’s a great night to be in Dublin too. Actually, we caught some of the acts playing on our stage and it was amazing. And to be fair, it was probably just as entertaining being outside the pub too
Arthur’s Day is… special. The idea of guerrilla gigs, and not knowing who you’ll see
AF: That’s right! And it explains why we were so scared too! We knew nobody was aware we were playing, and that can be daunting
GR: It works though, it’s a case of people going out and are willing to see absolutely anybody. It’s all very open-minded and that’s great.
So that was your first gig in Ireland? A bit of a baptism of fire
AF: [Laughs] Yeah, well, we try our best.
So thinking about the album release, do you feel any pressure or a sense of expectation? Especially in light of the BBC nod and the Brit nomination before you had released it.
GR: No, not really pressure… the only pressure comes from ourselves. We know people are eager to hear it, but it’s such a positive thing to be acknowledged so early. It was really a blessing for us.
AF: Maybe it is more about being given a platform rather than expectation. And they were so unexpected! We had a gig booked on the same night as the Brit Awards and never in a million years saw the nomination coming. It was never on our radar.
GR: Maybe we had a slight inkling as to what the BBC had planned though.
In what way?
GR: Well, they were so kind to us in the run-up to the announcements. Especially the six months leading up to our Live Lounge performance.
AF: And they are so good at keeping it a secret! I think they almost enjoy the secrecy.
GR: We had been trying to get Annie Mac to tell us what was going on…
AF: She was so coy! A whole lot of squirming and dodging questions.
GR: But to be fair to her, she probably didn’t know for sure herself.
AF: One of the best things about all of this is when people get behind us. A lot of people shout about us and when we first started that’s how we survived. Word of mouth and things like that. People putting tracks on Soundcloud and we just watched the reactions to them. I mean, obviously I liked the music, and George liked it, and so on. But we hadn’t really played a live show, so we had no idea how it would be taken. So those early people who put us on their blogs, and even now that we’re signed, they still play a big role. And the early DJs who played our stuff: Nick Grimshaw, Zane Lowe…
GR: And Annie Mac, Rob Da Bank. I mean, we’ve been incredibly lucky..
AF: And Trevor Nelson too, he really helped us out.
So it wasn’t a case of you promoting yourselves online, which seemed to be the method of choice for quite some time
GR: Yeah, absolutely. I’m not sure what it actually means in terms of underground music or mainstream music, but when you have, say, a guy in Chicago who comes across your track and uses it or mixes it, and then shares it and these connections start up. It’s like an underground, but in plain sight.
AF: And that just brings up differences between underground and unknown. The music is there for anybody to hear, but people may have considered us as underground. We’re not making music for a niche audience or elitist musical head-scratchers, but just because it was unknown for sometime doesn’t mean it was ever underground. We just want to sound fresh and interesting.
AlunaGeorge perform at the Academy, Dublin on 16th October. Tickets cost €17.35 and are available from Ticketmaster. Their debut album, Body Talk, is out today on Universal.