INTERVIEW: George Maple On Her Bold Live Show, Big-Name Collabs And Pop Music

2016 marks a new chapter in George Maple’s career. The Aussie songstress has returned after a brief period of silence with her most confident material to date leaving behind the subtleties of her debut Vacant Space EP in favour of the confident, sexiness of Sticks & Horses and new single Buried.

In the past 12 months, she’s unveiled collaborations with What So Not, Tkay Maidza, Bauuer, Rome Fortune, GoldLink and DJ Snake and yet it feels like she’s only just getting started. She’s hit her stride which is an opportune time for her to take to the stage in her biggest headline tour to date. Maple always brings a different energy to her live shows and you can expect new music plus a next-level showmanship when she tours the country next month. After all, she’s spent the better part of a year gracing some of the largest festival stages in the world from Coachella to Lollapalooza. 

Music Feeds jumped on the phone with Maple who was in London where she was preparing with her band for the tour. We spoke about what to expect on the upcoming tour plus her collaborations and transitioning into confident, bold pop music.

It must be amazing to be doing this upcoming tour in your biggest venues yet but also with a whole bunch of new music to play?

I know. I seriously cannot wait. This is how I’ve always wanted to do it but never had the time or money to do it so I’ve saved up all my coin and am putting it into developing the show.

That’s awesome. How have the few months been for you because you’ve been releasing bits and pieces but for the most part I imagine you’ve been sitting on a bunch of material. Is that hard holding onto things that you really want to release?

Yeah it means that I go back and am like, “maybe I should edit this or maybe I should do this,” and then it winds up being a completely different song.

I guess that’s how you end up with a remix of Sticks And Horses by yourself that is basically a different song to the original?

Exactly. Yep that’s exactly what happened. I’m trying to not listen to a lot of it because I know that’s what I’ll do. I’ve been putting it aside and focussing on doing new bits and pieces and focussing on the mixing process. It is hard though. Everytime I go and revisit a song I always change it. I think lots of artists do that to be honest.

I think it’s pretty natural human instinct. What have you got? Are you working on an album or have you got an album locked down?

I’ll just say I have a big body of work that is prepared (laughs). But you know, it’s a never ending process. When I choose to stop that’s when I will decide to announce something.

Is it nice to have that creative control to decide when that point is?

Yeah, I’m really lucky. I think because I’m so bossy with myself in that I make sure I put my own deadlines on my own work which means the people around me are actually the opposite. They’re like, “it’s cool just take your time”. It’s really amazing actually.

It’s been a natural progression for you from Talk Talk into the new single Sticks & Horses. Does it feel like you’ve grown in confidence naturally to explore topics that you probably wouldn’t have earlier on?

Yeah 100 per cent. I’ve never been the sort of person to do anything that’s not beyond my control. I guess there is a certain element of that but having a sense of it feeling right at the time. Not feeling like it’s too soon or…since the beginning of me starting this project people around me have always said, “you know you can write pop songs, we know you can do this”. At the time I was not interested in that. I wanted to explore production music and songs without choruses and explore how to be more intimate because naturally I’m more of a pop writer.

So I needed to explore different things. Now I’m coming back to this middle ground that I’m really happy with. I don’t know, it just feels right. I never do anything if it doesn’t feel right. Even if it means that it’s not going to make me as much money. I’m not motivated by that at all. This phase of music now, it has a story behind it, it has intention, it’s coming from real experiences and it just feels right. It’s really exciting. There’s no pressure coming externally about what to do. It’s cool.

That’s interesting the point you make about being able to naturally evolve into making pop. In Australia, there’s a division between pop music and triple j electronic music whereas in other countries they don’t have that divide. Has your time overseas helped discover what pop music can be?

Yeah definitely. Actually, spending time in America has been the biggest influences. I spent so much time… a lot of my friend in America, they did a lot of the work on the first Kendrick album and they’re all really big in the hip-hop world.

Spending time in that, kind of re-inspired me because so much of the music I was influenced by, the early Timbaland stuff and the TLC stuff and the Destiny’s Child stuff, that was all essentially hip-hop with pop music. It’s production with vocals. I think I rediscovered a lot of that by hanging out with all of these incredible people in LA. Now, I’ve come back to Europe and hung out with a bunch of interesting producers that make weird beats music. It’s this amalgamation of all these different places in the world where I’ve taken different bits and pieces from.

Locally, it must be great to come home and have a community of people like Tkay Maidza and What So Not who are doing similar things to yourself. Has it been nice to work with them?

So amazing. They’re the best people and I love them so much. All of us are on the same page in what we’re trying to do in our own way. It’s so nice to be in a community of people that encourage each other and push one another because we do. We very much push each other to be the best in what we’re doing. It’s very rare and very amazing. There’s no sense of competitiveness, there’s no sense of rivalry. It’s us genuinely looking out for each other.

Turning to the live side of things, you’ve had an incredible year gracing stages like Coachella and Lollapalooza. How much has that helped with growing confidence for your own headline shows?

I think that playing those shows, I guess it grows confidence. The energy of a live performance is so different to in the studio. It’s really important to have a lot of experience in those environments so that you can understand what you enjoy doing live and what the audience enjoys.

I think it inspires new music because you come off the show and there’s this energy. Rehearsing with my band this week, it’s just this completely new energy. And I hear all these new song ideas and new grooves. It’s a different universe than the studio and it’s really important to explore every side of that to create the best possible experience for everyone in the audience.

It sounds like you’re the type of artist that enjoys the whole journey of a song from the production to the visual to the live aspect. Do you get excited early on by the prospect of playing the song live or making a video?

Yeah. A lot of the songs that I write have a visual in mind from the beginning. I always think that’s a song of a very strong song. If everything crystallizes immediately, the song comes together quickly and the video comes together quickly…even the live arrangement.

A lot of the live arrangements I do are different. I restructure things and mash things together and use other people’s work and sample them. If that all comes together very quickly it means it’s probably a very strong song.

Was that the case for Sticks & Horses?

Yeah…actually, you know what. That song’s had about six different lives. When I was in the final stages that’s when it all came together. It was kind of like writing a new song and that’s when everything crystalised. So much of it has to do with chance and luck. It’s so important to keep immersing yourself in different environments because you never know when something is going to click.

It feels like you’re opening a new chapter with Sticks & Horses in terms of the visual and announcing live shows so soon after. Did you want a really strong song thematically to start that?

Totally, I think that it’s really interesting. With the last body of work it was quite chilled and it’s where I was at emotionally and musically. But in my live shows I’ve always been a little more bold with what I’m doing because I don’t want people to get bored. That’s my fear. Sometimes people are like, “whoah, I didn’t expect that from the live experience”. It’s a little more in your face and a little more dramatic.

Towards the end of the year because I’d written all these songs that were coming out this year and I was performing them live I thought, “it’s very important when I do this tour properly that people have a taste of this new dimension”. There are multiple dimensions throughout the show which is really important to me like having a proper flow and a proper journey. I love theatrics.

For people who have seen you on the festival circuit last year, apart from new music what changes should they expect?

I think the way that we’re constructing the arrangements in quite different. This is all really nerdy stuff, but we’re syncing the lighting and there’s so many ideas I have. I can’t execute all of them this round but I’ll try and do as many as I can. I want it to feel like a show.

George Maple’s national tour begins next month. Check out the details below.

George Maple Australian Tour 2016

Tickets on sale now

Friday 8th July

Metro Theatre, Sydney

Tickets: Bands In Town

Sunday 10th July

Fat Controller, Adelaide

Tickets: Bands In Town

Wednesday 13th July

Corner Hotel, Melbourne.

Tickets: Bands In Town

Friday 15th July

Oh Hello, Brisbane

Tickets: Bands In Town

Saturday 16th July

Jack Rabbits Slims, Northbridge

Tickets: Bands In Town

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