New band of the week: Georgia (No 56)

Meet the former would-be professional soccer star turned purveyor of impressively brittle post-grime pop

Hometown: North-west London.

The lineup: Georgia Barnes (vocals, instruments, production).

The background: Georgia Barnes operates as GEoRGiA. The small “o” and “i” might be significant - they spell “oi”, as in “oi!” Listening to her hard, harsh synthscapes is a bit like being screamed awake by someone with an urgent need to communicate something very important. Apologies for featuring another solo electronicist in this column so soon after Noah and Laura Clock, but it would appear that lone females are the new four-piece rock band. If it’s radical sonics and the shock of the new you’re after, don’t be expecting them to be delivered by a quartet of scruffy blokes in jeans and leather jackets bearing guitar, bass and drums. Watch out, instead, for a woman wielding a MacBook Air.

The eagle-eyed may already know Georgia Barnes, who supported Hot Chip and Kelela at the recent Great Escape, from the multi-instrumentalist’s stints playing drums for the excellent Kwes and Kate Tempest, Micachu and the Shapes and Juce – it was the latter girl group’s Cherish who, via her label Kaya Kaya, released Georgia’s debut EP Come On last year. The 24-year-old – who, aged 13-16, played for QPR and Arsenal’s youth teams – wrote, played and produced every note in her bedroom studio at home in north-west London. “I spend hours in the studio shaping my sounds, experimenting, pushing myself to do the best I can and make it original,” she says, emphasising that she wants to “get across the harshness, but with lots of bass” as well as her preference for sounds that are “clean but dirty and dark at the same time”.

Job done. For some idea of the shrill surges and ever-shifting textures on Come On, it’s like first-album Dizzee Rascal had a noisy cousin or Katy B had a bratty, angry kid sister. Or Charli XCX if she refused to be styled, and worked with Hudson Mohawke. There is a pleasing edginess, a brittle energy, to the four tracks on the EP. You can hear it on her latest single Move Systems. You can see it, too - she looks well high street in the video, not arty at all, but the music is avant. She seems refreshingly unschooled as she performs a series of deliberately naff dance manoeuvres in the grim urban milieus of a pool hall and a hairdresser’s. The lyric concerns “a dealer named Sheila”, while the music paints an equally gritty, anti-glamorous tableau. No wonder Domino snapped her up - her label debut is her August LP. “There’s a lot of heartbreak on it,” she explains, adding that her parents were getting divorced as she was writing it. She adds: “There’s some hard-hitting stuff there, and there’s some deep emotion. Pop’s always about fucking love, isn’t it?” Sure is. But it’s not always this pristinely powerful.


The truth: She’s Katy B in a homicidal mood.

Most likely to: Score.

Least likely to: Lose.

What to buy: Her self-titled debut album is released on 7 August.

File next to: Dizzee Rascal, Katy B, the Knife, Fever Ray.


Ones to watch: The Receiver, Formation, Pigeon Boy, Powers, I’lls.


Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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