Thursday, 17 January 2013

Interview: Aluna of AlunaGeorge

There's no getting around it, AlunaGeorge are big news. A nomination for the BRITS Critics Choice Award here, second place in the BBC Sound of 2013 there, throw in a sold out headline tour: they're rapidly turning people on to their ethereal-come-electronic style. We caught up with Aluna at the end of 2012 to talk getting started, East London life and her Grandma's cardigan.

Aluna wears Religion Wall St pants while performing in Paris.

How did you get started?
George offered to do a remix for me, through a guy I was working with at the time. It got played by Rob De Bank on Radio 1. That’s how we met so we decided to try hanging out in the studio.

You make it sound easy!
It was really easy! There was no real motivation; we just thought we’d see what happened. We weren’t in a position to have a plan at that time. We experimented and for the first year we did whatever we wanted to please ourselves – because we were so new no one else really cared what we were doing at that point.

Have you always wanted to have a career in music?
I didn’t know I could do music as a job when I was at school. I really didn’t know that this singing thing could become my career – so it took a while to become a real dream rather than a dream dream.

Wearing the Religion Dieux jumper for a photoshoot.

There is so much hype around you, do you ever feel pressured?
No, the hype is really motivating. We spent enough time pleasing ourselves to create music that was interesting to put out there. All it means when people are talking about us is that they care enough about what they hear to comment on it, which really pushes us forward.

With all the exciting new music coming out of the UK at the moment, does it feel like you are part of a movement?
The movement is really growing one band at a time. For a long time people didn’t know how to place us, and that’s because most people have something a little different. There’s so much more to come.

How did you find yourself in London?
As soon as I started doing music I moved to London. I like to try and make my home somewhere that no one rules the roost, where there is no particular direction and a whole mixture of people. I feel like in East London you can get absorbed in to the pressure of appearances. When you’re starting out you need so much focus, I didn’t want the fun distractions that I could have in East London, I didn’t want to squander any of my energy that I needed, so I moved to North London.

How would you describe your style?
I struggle with that in some ways because I like to get opposites working together, get something really masculine and really feminine at the same time, or go for something quite urban and try to mix it with something chic. It’s hit and miss – sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t! I do try to like something for as long as I can so that I haven’t got a room full of discarded clothes but I am a bit of a magpie, I like new clothes and experimenting with them.

Have you got anything that you wear over and over?
My Grandma’s cardigan! It’s actually in the first photo shoot we ever did, I’m on Georges shoulder. We were playing around with the clothes we had and I said ‘Well I’ve got this old cardigan... you know what I’ll just put it on!’ So it ended up in the shot and looks so artistic. I wear it a lot! People have even tried to steal it once or twice when I’m not looking.

Grandma's cardi in action.

 What is your relationship like with George?
We have a really great working relationship. I’m always surprised how little we argue when we’re working. We can argue about what sandwiches we are going to eat for lunch, but nothing major. I’m a little more fiery than George so I might have a loud shouty moment and George will say what he thinks quite calmly. But in the end whoever has the best idea wins.

You’ve done a headline tour – do you get any nerves?
I am really nervous when I come on stage, if I try to do anything other than sing then it comes out so I try not to say too much when I’m performing. Before I go on, I do vocal exercises which focus my attention, and sometimes I pull my drummer aside and make him scream with me! He gets nervous too so I think we should scream together rather than acting like we’re all really calm and do this all the time.

What are the crowds like?
We always get a good response at festivals because people are there to discover new music. We did a couple of gigs where nobody knew who was going to play so the combination of them not having chosen to see us and the shock factor of us being revealed... it took the crowd a bit of time to get over the ‘Huh?!’ moment and get in to it!

What’s the dream for AlunaGeorge?
I’d love to tour the album when it comes out in Spring. Or playing festivals where people know who we are would be a dream too!

Aluna while in our Shoreditch High Street store.

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