The Lone Wolf: In Conversation with Georgi Kay

Interview by Louise Goodger

From her first award wins back in Australia to her critically acclaimed ‘Where I Go To Disappear’—the introspective album we’ve all grown to know and love—Georgi Kay has only leapt from strength to strength. With a sound defined by her love for bass, synth, vocal chops and looping electronic beats, Georgi’s music takes negativity in the palm of its hand and moulds it into something fresh—something positive and new.

In the light of her recent release of ‘Lone Wolf – Reimagined’—a fresh take on the much-loved ‘Lone Wolf’ from her debut album and the spark of a chain of exciting things to come—we sat down with Georgi to discuss the importance of message, her new place at the heart of the LA creative hub and her never-ceasing gratitude to fans. 

If we move straight in to discuss your latest release—after over a year since the release of ‘Lone Wolf’, can you tell us a little more about the creative process for your latest release, ‘Lone Wolf – Reimagined’?

I was looking for a new place to live and I came up with an idea—between my last album ‘Where I Go To Disappear’ and my next album, what could I do to give back to my fans for being super patient and loyal? What could I do in the interim? I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of being able to recreate something that moved you so deeply and I know that Lone Wolf in particular for a lot of my fans, family and friends was a song that really moved and resonated with them. So I thought, why not, instead of just producing a remix, branch out and try something new so it hardly sounds like the original at all—a completely new experience but holding onto all the same stems of the song, just manipulated and reconstructed. 

Then a mutual friend put me in touch with CD Player who’s based in Brooklyn—a fantastic producer who works with a lot of analogue synths and looping sequences. He also travels a lot and collects field recordings of life happening around him wherever he is and weaves this into his music. We also found we are one of the same mind so it was really easy and fluid conversing and bringing the song into being. So it was really cool to hear the same song but with this new magic to it—like I was experiencing the song for the first time. There are three others in the works but I don’t want to give those away quite yet!

Can you tell us a little more about the narrative of the original track?

I’ve always been quite an independent, solitary individual and only child. I also have an extremely hyperactive and over-driven imagination so I’m able to build entire worlds in my head so I think that’s why I’m so attached to the creative realm of life—writing short stories or poems, gaming or working in film or music—anything you can create from scratch. So for music in particular, ‘Lone Wolf’ was the first song off the album that I felt—in a similar way to this landscape—was desolate and vast. What would loneliness feel like? What would it look like? How can I create this landscape and paint it with sound? No matter how many wonderful people we have in our lives, they will never fully understand where we sit, where we come from. Only we can 100% relate to ourselves. Everyone feels this way from time to time and I think it’s quite fascinating to realise we all feel that together.

You have spoken about the importance of message within your music. How does the message behind the music drive your tracks and how does this translate into live performance?

As ambiguous as I may be or symbolic in my writing, there’s also this distinct directness—like saying I’m a ‘Lone Wolf’ for example. Other songs have different messages, mostly introspective and using what we see as negativities to form something positive. They’re often subtle, unassuming messages pushing us to take what we perceive as negative, see it as a positive and don’t just wallow in it. Don’t keep it in, let it all out. 

Live music is one of my many forms of therapy—it’s very cleansing as an actual ritual or practice to be able to go out and release any tension or build up emotion and allow the audience also to release. You’re basically using each other to expel the toxins and giving each other love back and forth. I think ultimately the goal through my music is to always feel like you can just ‘be’. Not be anything in particular—just be. We’re so focussed on trying to be something. I like for people who are hearing my music for the first time to feel understood, related to and empathised with—to feel comfortable and like they are in a safe space. In this day and age, there’s judgement on every corner you turn and it’s very quickly made without knowing the full context or story. 

Image by ZB Images

Back to you as an artist, what is your driving force and what inspires you in everyday life?

To constantly create. Whether it’s music or art, that’s my drive. And not really planning where it’s going—just letting it fall into place, letting it flow naturally. While it can actually sometimes be a fantastic catalyst to create the unknown and unexpected, a lot of the time it’s best to let it just play out. To make room, make space for new ideas. 

What influences your songwriting style and production process?

I don’t really listen to music that much. I don’t like to be influenced by external forces. Not because I don’t like it but because it’s only natural that once you listen to something so much it’ll start to bleed into you and you start to emulate something in a similar vein. That’s my fear I guess—to make something that’s already out there. When I was younger, my Dad was very much into music and he would play a completely eclectic blend of various artists from all different genres and different generations. He would play it during our family breakfasts on the weekends and I think that unknowingly influenced and inspired me a lot. 

Florence and the Machine and Lorde are actually really good examples of artists who write in a modern, poetic way—everything is intentionally said and I think that’s a slightly more androgynous way of writing and one I relate to. It has no face—it’s just ambiguous and symbolic. When I was younger I listened to a vast array of artists but they all tended to roughly stick to similar pop constructs and I think that heavily influenced my writing at the start. Then when I went back to London when I was 19, and experienced Garage, Deep House, Tech House and an eclectic mix of electronic genres, that opened my mind a lot to all these new electronic textures and patterns. So when it came down to production I blended all of this. Sci-fi and horror films also play a huge part in my visual influences and sonically, very dystopian sounds with a pop element, a groove so it juxtaposes a darker lyric. 

How did you find the community surrounding you as you emerged as a young artist onto the scene and how important have you found this as a female musician?

I don’t think I was every really perceived as a female—I’m not overtly feminine nor overtly masculine, hence the androgynous delivery of song. So I never found myself really treated as a woman—just an artist. An over in Australia, our performing rights association were a huge help and were with me from the very beginning of my career, ever since I won my first award (The Western Australia Music Industry Award for Song of the Year). I also met a lot of individuals who were wonderful in building me up. But overall, I’ve never really felt accepted in the music society and I can also get quite bored of the music community. A lot of it can be fickle so it’s why I’ve often kept myself quite hidden. I found it quite difficult to make genuine groups of friends—individuals, absolutely, because that’s where I thrive. I want to make sure everything I do is intentional, is genuine and sincere. There’s something very important in learning to say no in the musical community: in knowing what you like and don’t like and staying true to that. So I’ve tended to navigate the scene in the way I personally found I could thrive—in this comfortable loneliness, a solo strength.

Image by Lance Williams

How has moving to and establishing a solid, supportive community around you in LA affected you and your direction as an artist?

Just through playing shows and meeting other people. The community itself can be a little exhausting but individuals are most important. I’ve met some incredible people, all from different walks of creative life, but all from my kind of tribe and a lot of collaborations have happened or are in the process of happening. Collaborations with fashion or other kinds of visual art have also been really fun and rewarding. Because there are so many people here in LA in entertainment, it’s such a creative hub. You do have to sift through to find your people, but when you do it’s worth the journey. 

From moving to LA to moving from the back to front seat in production, can you tell us a little more about your journey within the world of production? How did developing your production skills influence your sound and direction?

When I first started writing music I was just an acoustic singer songwriter and over the course of several years I met various producers who opened my musical eyes to more ambient, electronic and industrial sounds and I was really fascinated by that. I’d never tried that much production myself, being encouraged to work with a producer. Then when I moved to London, I signed with a major record label who I was with for 3 years and was put in hundreds of sessions. In these sessions I just got to back-seat drive a lot of the production. I always knew what I wanted—just not how to get it. So I just learned like that, watching these guys construct music out of zeros and ones. I learned my favourite sounds, my ways to start writing—often starting with a bass because I’m very bass driven—what DAWs and software I prefer. 

Then when I moved to LA, I had this interim waiting for my visa where I was bursting at the seams with all this possibility and when this creativity was finally released it began to sound like what we hear on ‘Where I Go To Disappear’. Then I met who was to be my co-producer and mixer for the album (Steve Rusch) and he was the perfect creative individual to work with. 

Image by ZB Images

Looking ahead, what can we expect from you in the months to come?

Firstly, there’s this reimagined EP I’m working on with CD Player which features Lone Wolf and three other fan favourites off the last album. That will be in 2020 and I’m very excited for that. It’s just a thank you to fans for all their support and patience. I’ve been doing a lot more merch too and I have some big things coming with that. I’m also working on my new album, also writing a sci-fi novel, also working on digital art in a dystopian realm. So working a lot in multi creative avenues and I’m having a lot of fun. I’m also planning a US tour for next year so a lot of good things to come!

Cover Image by Lance Williams.

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