The last six months have been nothing if not momentous for Australian singer-songwriter-producer George Maple. She released her debut album Lover in October, supported global superstar Lorde on the Australian leg of her Melodrama World Tour in November and is now about to embark on a headline Australian tour in support of the Lover album. Women In Pop recently met with Maple to get the stories behind the songs she will be performing on her upcoming tour.
You’ve been releasing music since 2013 but you waited until 2017 to release a full-length album. What took you so long?
I only do things when I feel like they make sense. So, in terms of an album, it needed to have a concept, it needed to have a vision, it needed to feel finished. All of the shades needed to be completed. It just took that time. I think I had a lot of growing to do and a lot to experience between the EP [2014’s Vacant Space] and Lover. And I’m really glad that I did because I have released singles that I feel people should absorb as a single experience with a video. Every time I’ve done that I’ve learned more about the visual side and more about what I care about and then more about performing it and translating it into a live context. I’ve learned so much over the last three years and I felt confident releasing this album. It felt right.
What do you think about the argument that albums are irrelevant today in the world of streaming?
Albums are still a viable art form, definitely, but I think streaming is changing the way people are consuming the music. You have this option to experience any album that you want to at any point. It’s also artist-by-artist, because some artists don’t want to do an album. And that’s kind of how it should be. If you want to release music for the people who care about your music, release it in whatever form makes sense for you as an artist. For me, I love the theatre of an album and I love the narrative … so that works for me. But for another artist, they might love writing radio hits and that works for them. We’re so lucky now that we have this sense of freedom – there’s more control for the artists, and we have more access to information, to samples, to sounds, to videos. It’s really exciting to be an artist in the twenty-first century.
What message or theme did you want to convey on Lover?
Essentially this album is a series of intimate events – beyond just sexual relationships or even romantic relationships. I realised that when I was writing Lover I’d been really fascinated with all the facets of intimacy – the high, the lows, the pain and the joy, the sexuality, the fear of rejection – and I was fascinated with it because of my own experiences and because of my observations. There’s so much meat in the experiences that I’ve had that I’ve tried to take and put into the record in various forms.
The song ‘Hero’ interpolates the 1988 Boy Meets Girl hit ‘Waiting for a Star to Fall’, which was also sampled by Mylo for his 2005 hit ‘In My Arms’. Why did you decide to sample it?
I love that Mylo record so much! I wrote ‘Hero’ in a house in LA. The second verse was always blank; it took me a while to write that. I’ve always had a problem with second verses – it’s weird. I think I just sang the ‘Waiting for a Star to Fall’ sample in because it was just what I remembered – and I remembered it wrong! We had to track back to the original writer and contact them to approve it. They gave me their seal of approval and sent me a nice little note. It just made sense in the song but I didn’t think about it until later. I’ve learned a lot about interpolations in the process.
There is a real vulnerability and fragility in your vocals on the final track on the album, ‘Will You’. What does that song mean to you?
That’s definitely one that means a lot. The repetition and slight variation of the lyrics were things that I consciously did because I was unsure if I should make it a full song or not. I was in a relationship at the time and [the song came from] that feeling of something not quite being right … and both people not feeling accepted for who they are, which is a sign of a relationship failing. It’s wanting someone to be okay with you not being okay, which is one of the hardest things to do in this world. Or being able to exist with someone in that space of intimacy, in that little pocket where they’re distressed and you cannot do anything, but you just need to be by their side. It’s very raw for me, that song.
What’s your favourite track on the album?
‘Hero’. That’s the song I’m most proud of, to date, that I’ve released.
You live in LA but are back in Australia for the tour. What do you miss most about Australia?
The space. LA is alright for space, but it’s a bit smoggy. My family’s [in Australia], so I miss my family. I’ve got to a point where I’m looking now to the future: where do I want to be? Where do I want to have a house? Where do I want to put a studio and have a sense of groundedness?
Your career started on the stage long before you recorded music, didn’t it?
I started off performing quite young and went in a lot of eisteddfods. Then I performed at restaurants on the northern beaches [in Sydney] from when I was fourteen. I used to do a jazz set – just me and a guitar. I was working at Pizza Hut when I got offered this gig and it paid five times the amount that I was getting in a week at Pizza Hut. So, I was like, oh … and here we are, I guess!
Tickets for George Maple's tour are on sale now here
21 February 170 Russell, Melbourne
22 February Metro Theatre, Sydney
23 February The Gov, Adelaide
24 February Villa, Perth