Looking back, England’s Georgia Barnes figures she might have been a little overambitious with 2015’s Georgia, a debut full-length that would take her four years to follow up.
“That record was really special to me,” the London-raised singer says, on the line from a New York tour stop. “It felt a little surreal that I was not only releasing a record, but that it was on one of my favourite labels ever [Domino]. It ended up being overwhelming. It did critically very well, but it didn’t really connect with a lot of people beyond that. I think it was kind of a bit ahead of its time in a way—it wasn’t the right moment for what I was doing. Now it feels like I’m really connecting and the music is reaching around the world.”
Her breakthrough came in the form of the 2018 single “About Work the Dancefloor”, a neon-dream banger that hit big in clubs by fusing darkwave electro-pop and sweaty Chicago house. The track is one of 12 genre-spanning songs on Georgia’s upcoming full-length Seeking Thrills, scheduled for release on indie heavyweight Domino Records this coming January.
“The first record was very experimental—I did it without anyone around me, and I got signed off the back of that,” Georgia says. “Doing it all on my own in the studio felt very kind of innocent. And I think Georgia was almost like a window into what potentially could be. The second record feels, to me, like my sound is more finalized.”
With that, Georgia serves notice that Seeking Thrills takes lethal aim at the dance floor, not just with “About Work the Dancefloor” but heat seekers like the synth-dazzled “Never Let You Go” and the jungle-house detonator “Started Out”.
“I toured the first record a bit, and then I had a plan,” she notes. “I went straight back into the studio with a real methodical idea of how I was going to approach the material. There was no outside pressure put on me, so I was really able to be patient. I worked full days in the studio for three years making sure I got it right.”
While “About Work the Dancefloor” and “Started Out” will be the main drawing cards, they don’t necessarily tell the whole story of Seeking Thrills. Halfway through, the record pulls a U-turn, with Georgia going back to her more experimental beginnings. “Mellow” suggests Pepper-era Butthole Surfers jumping headfirst into the grime pool, while Georgia pulls on the pointy boots and coffin-black eyeliner for “Till I Own It”.
“I was obsessed with the early ’80s for this record, and bands like Depeche Mode,” she relates. “For me, it was incredible to see this underground band become huge in America, to where they were playing stadiums.”
And perhaps realizing Depeche Mode once never expected to be headlining hockey rinks, Georgia acknowledges that she consciously shifted her goals while writing for Seeking Thrills. The irony is that she shot low. A legitimate hit at home in the U.K., “Started Out” currently has 6.5 million streams on Spotify.
“I decided that lowering my expectations is probably the best thing for me in this sort of industry,” Georgia says with a laugh. “And I think that’s why I’m enjoying every single moment and every opportunity that’s coming my way. This record has been the surprise one. Obviously, I’ve worked very hard in the studio with the goal of making the music a bit more accessible to people, but I had no idea that the songs were going to do what they’ve done, particularly in my home country, where the support has been great. It’s really been a pleasant shock.”
Georgia plays Fortune Sound Club on Thursday (October 10).