I got to meet George Brown when I was living in London, and oh I thought I was so clever when I wrote the article title “Meet Meet George Brown” about her interview and EP, which had dropped the month before. She has a great story, from busking around London to fundraising her self-titled EP on Indigogo, and now she’s making some great 60s and 70s-inspired pop music that anyone will enjoy. Read the interview below and give her a listen!
You’ve done a lot since we last spoke, what have you been up to?
Hi Kat! Yes, it’s been nearly a year! And yes, a lot has happened: we were delighted to have radio play in the UK and the US off the back of the EP’s release and were really pleased to have been placed at No 11 in a radio programme’s monthly chart, as well as “Record of the Week” by another; we were chuffed to receive reviews from various online bloggers and music sites; we gigged for six months as part of the EP’s promotion, including playing our first festival; the video for “Paper Hearts” made it onto a music vlogger’s shortlist; and on New Year’s Day, Michael Walker of Laurel Canyon fame liked my tweet announcing the launch of the EP!
Right now I am writing new songs before going back into the studio with Felix to record a second collection of songs. I am also working on releasing “Heartbreaker” as a single. I’m working on the video right now. It’s a project very close to the heart and core of the EP. I was told by a few of my Indiegogo campaign backers that their children particularly liked dancing to “Heartbreaker.” So I took this as inspiration and in a very small way of showing my unending gratitude for my campaign backers, I decided to make the video for “Heartbreaker” which featured the children of campaign backers. We shot it last year and I’m in the final stages of putting it together. I am really excited about it and can’t wait to show it to you. I did say to the kids that they will get a preview showing – so I will send it to you straight after, pending their approval, of course!
What was the inspiration for your self-titled EP?
Half of the songs on the EP are personal to me and my life. And the others are stories based on situations that I was witnessing going on around me which I re-told through the songs. Also, I had been talking about wanting to record my songs for about 20 years – from my last year at university, through my years of traveling and working – and it was only after my first child was born that I decided that I had to now do it. I come from a cultural background whose idea or definition of success is based on the more material things in life rather than fulfillment and passion. And it felt like it was the right time to do it because whilst I needed to finally put my money where my mouth was, and to stop boring my friends about talking about wanting to do it and never having done it! But I also wanted to show my children that they should follow their heart and pursue their passions. Although at the time my children were 5 years and under a year old respectively, I felt that I needed to actively, physically and tangibly show them that. So my children, the beliefs that I stand by and want to instill in them (my children), and the tremendous support I had from my husband, were a major inspiration for recording the EP.
What was your favorite show that you’ve played?
Gosh, Kat! What a question! I have really enjoyed all the shows that I have played!
But also, just over a year ago, I hadn’t played any shows! I get a rush (before, during and after) at all of them, I treat each one differently from the last, and I give each one my best. A Meet George Brown show is a Meet George Brown show! Perhaps the one which gave me the biggest rush for so many different reasons was my very first show. This was in February 2017 and it was a solo gig at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
As it was my first show, it was the first time that the Indiegogo campaign backers could come to see me perform the songs that were on the EP – the campaign backers had received their copies six months prior to the release in April 2017. It was also the first time the the EP’s songs were aired publicly which, whilst daunting, was very exciting. Although there were a fair number in the audience, it was a very intimate affair: my husband and my kids were there, my sister and her family, my best friend, my producer (Felix Macintosh), my friends, many campaign backers as well as many visitors to the gallery who are now part of the Meet George Brown “tribe”!
Thinking about it, it was actually quite manic! The timing of the gig was such that I had to pick up my six year old from school with my then-one year old, head to the Gallery with all my gear, it started snowing (!), unload my kids and gear from the cab on to the side of the road up from the gallery’s entrance, enlisting the help of unsuspecting passersby to help transfer kids and gear to the venue, then hand over my kids to my husband before the soundcheck. It was so manic and yet so much fun! (My kids were thrilled that I had picked up from school in a cab – that was their highlight. Clearly very rock ‘n’ roll!
You first started playing on the streets of London for tips – who is the tougher critic, a commuter on the street or someone in the crowd who has never heard you perform?
Yes, I was a busker. I started busking in the summer of 2012 for an hour or two during the weekend. It was purely to get into the practice of performing, honing my skills and stagecraft, and to see first hand which songs worked and which didn’t.
This is a tough question…Both these listeners are very different in nature and therefore elicit very different responses from me. For example, a commuter on the street who is walking past only hears about 20 seconds of a song. If they know the song, their mind is made up in those 20 seconds: whether they know the song, whether they like the song, do they like your rendition of the song. It’s very transient which is great if you make a mistake or if it’s something new that you’re trying out and you think, “You know what – this first outing is clearly premature! Too many mistakes!” You have the luxury of playing it out until you think they’re out of earshot then start another song. But because it’s so transient, unless they stop to listen, there’s no rapport, there’s no connection to establish outside of the time that they are walking past. There’s no banter, although I became quite used to engaging in banter in the middle of a song.
With the newcomer to Meet George Brown songs who is at a show, I can still try out some new material on them but the standard of this first outing would be higher than if I were to try it out busking because you can’t just ditch a song in the middle of a show! The pressure of performing to a new listener at a gig is, however, ever present. You want them to like you, your songs, your band, you want to capture their attention and imagination, you want them to join the Meet George Brown “tribe”. And you have more time in this scenario to establish a connection with them to have that banter.
The most difficult for me is performing to people that I know: friends, family. Until the EP was released, not everybody I knew was aware of the fact that music was a longheld passion and aspiration of mine. And irrespective of this, people who know me already have an idea of me which is not from the perspective of music. And so performing to these people for the first time is difficult because I guess I am putting another facet of myself on show to them which may or may not match the perception they had of me already. With a complete stranger, I am a blank canvas to them and they have no prior perception of me.
What’s next for you? What are your goals for this year?
My goal is to write a new collection of songs so that I can go back into the studio to record my second EP; to have my songs played and heard on the radio, (I’d also love for them to be on TV and in films!); and to keep on this amazing journey of musical and self-development.