In a music industry rife with commercial mush, it can be to tough to forge an identity – but AlunaGeorge have done just that with their signature sound. It’s a harmonious union of George Reid’s catchy hooks and intros and Aluna Francis’s slinky, rasping lyricism. It’s seductive and distinctly London. The duo is right on tune with what’s pulsing out of the UK’s airwaves, along with young peers like Disclosure, MS MR, Jessie Ware and Charli XCX. The 24-year-olds are indeed the darlings of electropop and their twice-delayed debut album only dropped at the end of July. Metro chatted to the duo’s vocal half Aluna about making music both in and for the bedroom.
METRO: It’s been a whirlwind year for you two with all the excitement surrounding “Body Music,” but do you think you’ve lived up to the hype?
Aluna Francis: Well, we knew we couldn’t play to the hype because the hype is its own thing, so the only thing we had to do was create the album we wanted to create and we did that.
Is the girl-boy electropop format popular because it’s so accessible?
Yeah, yeah I think so. It could be the birth of the home studio and I like the process of the production being intrinsic to the songwriting process because I find sound and rhythm as a foundational aspect to a track are equal to the melody and the lyrics.
Why is it that the boys are usually parked up behind the technical equipment, while the girl takes the showcase vocals role?
Boys and their toys, I guess. There’s still a kind of a different appeal to boys and girls from a social standpoint because that side of music has often been saturated by guys — and things don’t change that quickly. I don’t know a lot of girls who have picked up being able to produce music in their bedroom. I certainly did have an attempt to do it but, hmmm, my talents lie elsewhere [laughs].
Your album is called “Body Music.” In an ideal world, what should the guys and girls be wearing to dance to your beats?
[laughs and speaks sensually] I think you should have a few layers on so that you can peel them off one at a time.
Is it a song for strippers?
[laughs excitedly] Yeah, do your bedroom strip.
Has anyone tried to serenade you in the past? What’s your cheesiest dating tale?
Oh God, yeah my first boyfriend. [laughs] I’ve got like a vague recollection of standing there, like aww, cringingly trying to be positive and feel like it’s nice that someone has written you songs but at the same time going “I really wish you hadn’t.”
When was this? Did he play a guitar?
Yup, oh God. I was like 19; I was a late developer.
What were the songs called?
Nooo, I can’t [shouts]. I listened to it once and then banished it from my memory and my house.
I take it that was the end of the relationship?
Yeah, I’m quite bad, actually. I remember once I was dating this guy and he turned up at my doorstep with a big bunch of red roses and I was like thinking “That’s too much, you’re dumped.” I’m such a shit.
At the doorstep? That’s cold.
No, but it was really very soon after [laughs].
Was he too romantic for you?
Yeah, he was being way too romantic. Please don’t let that put anyone off giving girls roses. I love flowers – they’re great. Maybe wait a while until it’s a sure thing.
How many weeks should men wait?
Ah, I think we’re talking month four then you can go in with the roses. Don’t give new girls roses. They’ll just go “Umm, I don’t really know if I deserve these roses because I don’t really know how much I like you.” [laughs]. Chocolates are fine because you can eat them. That’ll go down well at any time – week one.
Thanks for the tips. In the past, your working relationship has been termed a “musical fling.” Have you ever been tempted to make more than just music in the bedroom with George?
I’ve never mixed business with pleasure. I think they’re too completely and utterly incompatible experiences. I remember in one of my old bands, we got a new drummer and he drove me home and I don’t know what he said but it was obvious that he had the hots for me and I was like “Mate, that is totally inappropriate and I’m afraid we can’t work together anymore.”
You’re good at cutting people dead.
Yeah. It can’t happen – it’s so awkward. How do you write music when one of you or both of you have got their mind on something else?
You’re both apparently huge Thom Yorke fans. What is it about reflective, thought-provoking music?
Yes. It was the first thing that woke me up as a teenager. R&B was around and sexy music is all fairly one-dimensional to me and I wasn’t thinking about that sort of thing. I was much more into tales of woe and how the world is against me [laughs]. I needed music that understood the struggles of being an introverted geeky teenager.
Do you spend a lot of time alone?
Yeah. I’m an only child so that helps. And we moved around a lot, so I was the new girl a hell of a lot at school – a bit of a loner.
Do you have a dark depressive side?
Yeah. You often hear that music helps with that dark side of your personality. It certainly made me feel that I had a home in the world because as a family we had moved around a lot, which is very uprooting and you can feel very unlinked to anywhere. Music is my foundation and that’s where I belong. It’s been really good for me to kind of keep the dark side at bay.
Speaking of one’s identity, it’s difficult to place the origins of some artists from their singing voice but you have a distinctive, Estuary English dialect coming through. Why is it important for you to keep that voice?
Yeah, because I feel like I’m able to express myself best in that voice. As soon as that melts away I start feeling like I’m taking on someone else’s personality and that was one of the things that I didn’t want to do in singing. It took a while actually for me to really accept that that’s how my vocals were going to be. I mean my vocals are often very dry because we don’t use a huge amount of reverb. George usually says it’s because he doesn’t know how to use reverb without it sounding shit [laughs]. I was like “What about making them more beautiful and shiny?” but I do appreciate the fact that people can take me on face value vocally because I haven’t had lots of buffing up.