Photo: AlunaGeorge / Facebook / Fiona Garden
AlunaGeorge are the likely saviours of the UK r&b scene, refusing to follow current trends and carving a niche for themselves with their glorious, distinct sound, mixing glitchy electro with classic soul sounds.
The London duo have teamed up with indie stars Friendly Fires for Bacardi Beginnings, where the drinks company sponsor a remix by Friendly Fires of AlunaGeorge's new single 'Your Drums, Your Love' and act as mentors (of sorts) to the newcomers.
Ahead of the release of 'Your Drums, Your Love', we caught up with AlunaGeorge to discuss their imminent push into the mainstream, the europop sound of modern r&b and how much free rum they've manager to get from their involvement in the project...
How did you get involved with the Bacardi Beginning project?
Aluna: It started because Friendly Fires were asked who they wanted to work with - and they named us. They got in touch with us and that's how it all started.
Are you both rum drinkers?
Aluna: I am a rum drinker. It's the only spirit I can drink and enjoy. I love it.
Are you making the most of the Bacardi partnership and making sure you have a fridge stuff with booze?
Aluna: Absolutely! They've given me Bacardi Gold, white rum and all sorts. I haven't drunk it all. All in moderation, obviously.
Friendly Fires are remixing your track 'Your Drums, Your Love' for the project. How precious are you over people reworking your tracks?
George: I don't think we're too precious at all. From my perspective, having had my fair share of destroying other people's songs and then putting them back together in a different order, I find it really refreshing to hear. You can get a completely different take on something you've been listening to for up to a year and it's really nice to hear someone do a different thing with it.
Aluna: With my vocals it is interesting to hear it when people have chopped up my voice and really messed around with the structure of the melody of the song. It's all just fun.
AlunaGeorge discuss working with Friendly Fires
Do you feel nostalgic for the classic sounds of r&b from the early 2000s?
George: The music you hear on the radio now just becomes the same thing over and over again. That style of music has its merit and some of it is amazing, but it's just the music we grew up with coming back out through what we're doing. I guess you don't realise that you're taking the stuff in!
What are your feelings on the current world of radio R&B?
George: I feel it is a case of people trying to keep up with everyone else more than anything. I don't know how these things start - maybe someone simply put a euro-house sound underneath and then thought 'lets try that again' and the next was another huge hit, and then everyone else started copying it.
Aluna: I think the original idea happened before in the nineties, but not to the extent where it was a blanket and people can't make their own music without the house beat behind it.
George: It's even weirder with the hip-hop acts doing it now. Snoop Dogg did that track with David Guetta. I know people have got to work to stay relevant and that, but when you know what they've done before and how amazing that was, it's a bit of a shame I guess. Everyone's got to pay the rent.
Aluna: It's quite uninspiring.
So no one is trying to persuade you to get Will.i.am or David Guetta involved on the album?
Aluna: No. We made sure we had agreed on the people we'd be working with before we signed and they are all musically sound. They have good vision and good heads. We haven't been asked to do anything stupid - because they know we never would.
You've been extremely well-received by blog and credible press - do you have any apprehension about taking your sound to the mainstream?
Aluna: It's hard to speculate because it's still so early for us. We're still involved in the whole process, the label said to us to just carry on as we were and promised to help out where they could.
George: Now we are with Island Records there's just a few more people working to make sure we stay focused I guess, which is good because it's easy to lose your way and fart around too much when it is just the two of us day to day.
Listen to 'Your Drums, Your Love'.
Who were your favourite artists growing up?
George: Weirdly enough, my dad played a lot of Marvin Gaye when I was a little kid growing up, so that was a big one for me.
Aluna: My mum had an Etta James tape. R7B has been really pigeon-holed into the nineties, but that's not where it started.
George: The stuff that The Neptunes are doing, which I still listen to now, is amazing. Their ability to a whole song around a really simple idea. When you break the song down there's just a few very well-chosen bits of music and they create a whole song around that. It's a hard thing to do but when it's done well it's wonderful.
Where are you in terms of finishing your debut album?
Aluna: We got to a point where we had a good number of songs - but then we kept writing more so, I think we're not really sure where we are right now. We're near the end.
George: It's probably about 90% written now. At the moment it's our last opportunity to write any new ideas. I can't remember what our cut-off date for finishing was!
Aluna: Our cut-off date was the end of August.
George: But then it was pushed to October. I think... Clearly we listen.
'Your Drums, Your Love' is released on 15 October.