Interview: George FitzGerald talks All That Must Be, Berlin and Bonobo
The London-based musician's second album All That Must Be is out now.
Header photo and in-article photo by Rhodri Davies.
George FitzGerald is a special artist. On his sophomore album All That Must Be, out now via Double Six Records, the London-raised musician brings together the often-split worlds of organic and digital electronic music in a way comparable to electronic heavyweights in Bonobo and Tycho, uniting emotive vocal features from names including Lil Silva and Hudson Scott with driving layers of synth, each soaked with thick percussion. On a more significant level, All That Must Be documents a period of change and upheaval for FitzGerald, whether it's the move from his long-time residence in Berlin back to his hometown London, or becoming a father for the first time. "I wanted to mirror the uncanniness you feel when a massive event happens in your life," he explains on the album in a quote. "Everything looks and sounds the same, but it’s somehow different. Your surroundings are less intelligible."
With a pair of Australian shows this April, we used the new album and forthcoming tour dates as an opportunity to talk to George FitzGerald about the album and what it encompasses, while also talking about Berlin, collaborating with Bonobo, and his dynamic live show, which we might have to wait a little bit longer to see.
Hey George – congratulations on the release of your second album All That Must Be. This is your second full-length record now, how have things changed since your last album, Fading Love?
Well, I'm a father now so things have changed quite a bit! I guess playing festivals and clubs is a bit of a contrast from nappies and nursery school. It's fun though.
One of the more significant changes that happened between releases was your move from Berlin back to London. How do changes like these alter your creative process and influence the sound of an album like All That Must Be?
I think it's impossible not to be influenced by a change in your surroundings. London is a much more hectic city that Berlin. It has that pressure-cooker atmosphere, and that certainly rubbed off on some of this record. In terms of creative process, my studio is similar to what I had in Berlin, so that hasn't changed as drastically.
Berlin and London are also two cities with really lively and well-documented electronic music scenes, especially with house music. Is that why you’ve moved between the two cities through your life? Does living and creating music in vibrant and musical cities inspire you or affect your drive to create electronica?
I actually moved to Berlin in the first place because I was working as a translator there over a decade ago, having studied German at University. So I arrived in the city in a very different way to many other dance music ex-pats. It's where I discovered house and techno, but I didn't go there to seek it out. That said, the music scene there is ultimately why I stayed so long, and why I keep going back. Both London and Berlin feel like home to me.
One of the noticeable differences between the two albums is the number of collaborators – All That Must Be has four, while your debut has two. Was the decision to open yourself up to collaborating on All That Must Be a purposeful one? How did it change the sound and creation of the album in comparison to Fading Love?
It wasn't a conscious one, but I guess I feel more comfortable collaborating with people after the first record. In spite of that, there are actually less collaborative tracks on this record than the last one. I wanted to broaden who I worked with but also maintain an identity for my music. I'm not really a fan of albums with too many collaborators. It's a fine balance.
One of the collaborations I want to talk about specifically is your one with Bonobo, Outgrown. How did that collaboration come about, and what was the process of collaborating with him?
Si [Simon Green, the brainchild of Bonobo] remixed one of the tracks from my first album and we came into contact through that. We realised we had a few mutual friends and experiences and hit it off pretty quickly. The track was really just us messing around in my studio in London and his in LA over a few days. We didn't have a goal in mind with it at the time, we were just swapping samples and hanging out, and it turned into music at some point.
Now the album is out of the way, one of the things in your upcoming calendar is a pair of Australian dates in April. Can you walk us through your live show and what people can expect from your Australian return?
I'm going to be DJing this time around in Australia, but I hope to come back later in the year with the band. The live show consists of me and three friends, playing drums, keys and singing. I really think it adds something to the tracks and I hope to share it with as many people as possible this year.
More and more electronic artists are transitioning from DJing into the live format, which is interesting considering how much effort is required to completely strip back your songs and ‘remake them’ in a sense when piecing together a live show. As someone who has made the change from DJing to live performance – and as someone who does both – why do you think there’s been such a shift in electronic to live music?
It might have something to do with the technical aspects of DJing becoming less challenging over the years, but I can't speak for everyone else. For me, I've always regarded myself as more of a producer than an out-and-out DJ. Playing my music live is a very logical step after spending months and years on end making albums. It also refreshes my relationship with DJing. Keeping yourself challenged is always a good thing as an artist.
All That Must Be is out now through Double Six Records / Domino Records. Grab the album HERE.
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