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Mansfield Singer-Songwriter Georgie Signs Deal With Columbia Records

8 December 15 words: Paul Klotschkow
"They wanted me to play another set and I was like, 'I've got a history exam, but you know what? I'm going to play it.'"
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photo: Laura Patterson

Where were your early gigs?
They were in Mansfield at an open mic on a Thursday night at the Railway Inn. I failed my history exam because of that. They wanted me to play another set and I was like, “I’ve got a history exam, but you know what? I’m going to play it.” Obviously I was tired in the morning – I had to retake the exam. After I played there a lot, I started to play in Nottingham. The JamCafe open mic, then I got offers to play gigs. The Maze was my first proper gig. It’s a special little place.

How did you go about getting those gigs when you didn’t have any profile?
It was literally word of mouth and I’d played a few nights at JamCafe. I was still under eighteen so I wasn’t allowed in a lot of places and a lot of promoters would have to sneak me in. Parisa from Acoustickle was the first person to book me at The Maze, and she introduced me to people like Adam Pickering from Sounddhism and Tommy from Farmyard. They all supported me and had me on board at their gigs. LeftLion as well. Those kind of gigs happened fast. I’m really grateful. Everyone is so supportive [in Nottingham]: other artists will tell the promoters about you, a promoter will tell another promoter about you, and everyone is up for listening to new things.

When was the moment where you went from playing open mics to wanting to take it a bit more seriously?
Probably when I just started college, around sixteen years old. I’m twenty now. I’ve gigged hard around Nottingham, 180 to 200 gigs. I was sixteen when I really started gigging, like half-hour sets and stuff. When you start doing your own gigs, you realise that you need to have half-hour’s worth of your own stuff and so you write more. Then you want to have different songs for different sets.

The songs that you have written so far have a kind of seventies West Coast feel to them – Fleetwood Mac, Crosby, Stills & Nash, that sort of thing. What draws you to that particular sound and era?
I think being brought up with it around people like my mum and meeting people like Jason [Hart, manager] who love it as well. It was one of those things where as soon as I had my ears on it, I fell in love with it. It just inspired me so much. The way they work, the music they make, what they sing about. People like Stevie Nicks, Carole King, Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith, they’re all really cool, influential women. You struggle to find women like that today, so you sometimes have to search a little bit further back to find them.

How does songwriting work for you? Do you pick up a guitar with a particular thing in mind that you want to write about or do you just see what comes to you?
I’m always fiddling about and making shapes on the guitar, most of the time I don’t know what chords I’m playing as long as it sounds okay. Then I will get a melody over that. I think subconsciously the lyrics are always there; it’s perhaps stuff that’s been on my mind for four years that will then come out in a song.

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photo: Laura Patterson

Do you find it easier to express yourself through songs?
Definitely. It’s a natural songwriter thing. It’s probably the only way. I don’t know what I would be doing right now if it wasn’t for music. I don’t even want to think about it.

Would you ever write lyrics before you started to write songs. Did you ever keep a diary or anything like that?
No, not really to be honest. I’ve always loved poetry, reading, and films, but I’ve never kept a diary. I used to play a lot of football when I was little instead.

Where did you play?
Up front. I played for local sides. I really enjoyed it. I played for the town team, moved away for a little bit and played for that town’s team, then I got a trial at Derby County, which I shouldn’t say being from Nottingham. We’ll keep that one under the carpet. But by the time I’d done that, I found out that I loved music.

So football could have been another path that you could have gone down?
It certainly was going to go that way, but I found the guitar and fell in love with that and forgot about the football. I still love it, though.

What was your best season as a footballer?
I played a season where I scored 139 goals...

When did you find out that Columbia were interested in signing you?
We signed the deal about six weeks ago. It would have been a few months before that. It was one of those surreal things because I was with my mum when Jason rang me. We were out for lunch and she was, like, “Get some champagne!” “Mum, it’s not been signed yet…” I went down to London to Sony to sign the contract with Jason and my mum. It was special.

What’s the idea behind the Following The 20 Mile Road Tour?
I have a song called 20 Mile Road and it’s one of my early songs that I still play. I played it at a lot of my early gigs including Broadway, JamCafe, The Maze and The Bodega. It’s about the twenty-mile journey between Mansfield and Nottingham that I obviously take quite a lot, and I wrote the song on the bus, on the Pronto. That’s where the whole tour idea came from. Wanting to do it along that road where everything started.

Your manager Jason Hart also manages Jake Bugg. How did you first meet?
It was here [at Broadway]. I played a gig right in that corner for the photographer David Baird. I was introduced and we started working together. Whenever I had a new song we would get it down. We just kept working together for a long time, two years, then things are where they are now. He’s great, I wouldn’t be signed to Columbia if I wasn’t working for Jason. He’s just so passionate about music and the enthusiasm is for the music above anything else.

Do you feel fortunate coming through at a time when a lot of Nottingham artists are breaking through nationally?
It’s great to be part of it really, more than anything. I’ve played a lot and I know a lot of the artists – they’re all amazing. You can go to a gig on any night of the week and you are going to come across great music. To be able to break through is really special and – not that Nottingham needs any help – I’ll help in any way that I can. It’s nice to be recognised outside of Nottingham. There are loads of talented musicians here that deserve the recognition. I’ve been an artist gigging three times a night wondering if it will ever happen for me. It’s frustrating sometimes, but you have to keep at it.

Georgie plays The Maze on Thursday 10 December 2015.

Georgie on SoundCloud

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