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Live Review: Pocketmoth celebrates tenth release with George's 'Strange Ways' EP

18 March 2021 | 3:23 pm | Emma Jones

Meajin/Brisbane producer George has unveiled his debut EP under his new alias, and linked with local legends Pocketmoth to share it.

Meanjin/Brisbane based label Pocketmoth has just notched double digits in their catalogue with the release of a new EP titled Strange Ways by George. A label whose output has been centered on careful curation, Pocketmoth's championing of their community of local creatives, as well as their knack for unearthing innovative, vivid, and intentional bodies of work, have remained integral to their evolution over the last few years, and their latest release showcases this once again.

George (George Hickman) has released created endeavours under various names in the past, but Strange Ways marks a particularly personal pivot for the Meanjin/Brisbane based producer. Having already released music under these various aliases in the past, such a personal record required a personal namesake as well, and so the George project was born.

And what a personal body of work it is. Across three tracks, George explores the duality of euphoria and melancholy, the bittersweet and the light and dark which comes with being human. In turn, he creates works which possess an otherworldly quality to them, feeling transportive while still grounded. Opening with an invigorating and energetic exploration of drum patterns and melodies in 'Recall' before switching gears to echoing vocal samples being paired with gentle ambiance to provoke introspection in 'Against Better Judgement' and ending in the tight, groove-driven title track, each track showcases a different side of the creative exploration George underwent while creating this EP. And, with the help of creative collaborators Jasper Free for the accompanying videos and Madeline Holt for the cover art, this utilisation of visuals only further amplifies the introspective and otherworldly nature of Strange Ways.

Ultimately a triumph for an artist who sounds to have found his feet with this release, George was able to tap into the excitement which came to him in a time of creative expression and emerge with a three-track release that really feels like the start of something special. Tying his release to Pocketmoth, which has always focused on their ethos of linking with fellow local creatives, the entire ecosystem of the Strange Ways EP has allowed this release to be what it really could be: a moving, reflective body of work which makes you feel and think just as much as it makes you dance. To celebrate the release of the EP, we got to know George a little better below. Listen to 'Strange Ways' here or nab your own copy now.

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Can you tell me a bit about how you created this EP?

Yeah, so basically the whole project was made within Ableton around late 2019. It was a really creatively free time for me, I felt like I could try anything and that feeling was so exciting! The icing on the cake was discovering Pocketmoth. Seeing their events, their vision. A whole new world of ideas and sounds came crashing into my life. It was great! Technically speaking though, its a blend between digital synth emulations & field records I captured throughout the year. I was really inspired by a lot of classic synth emulations Arturia was doing, so I was fuelled by the desire to be like "wonder if I can make a dance track with a mellotron flute" haha. All just flowed out of those little experimentations.

The sounds on this EP are varied and broad, but still maintain a certain level of emotion in each. The titles are also very evocative and can mean numerous things to the listener. Was it a conscious decision to make something in this vein, or does your creative process allow for a more natural evolution when you're creating songs?

Definitely more of a natural evolution. I try and go into a creative project with intent but it usually ends up speaking for itself. For instance, Against Better Judgement, the ambient cut on the EP, that was originally a dance track. I was listening to a lot of Butch at the time, as well as New Age music and just had the desire to blend those two worlds together. The result is so different to the original concept I had but that's just part of my creative process. Song names always come at the end though. Once I have lived with a song, that's when a name usually appears.

You've released music under various aliases, but this one is just your first name. What was behind this decision, and what does having your name now so prominently tied to your music now mean to you?

Initially I didn't want various aliases, which is probably why I was drawn to just putting it out under my own name. There is no direction or agenda to 'George', its just my own output. Its just me. DJ Borderforce on the other had, is an intentional expression of dance music. It's like I am roleplaying some intense rave DJ haha. I think that separation has been liberating.

You're releasing this EP via the legends at Pocketmoth - can you tell me about your relationship with them and how it feels to have such a personal body of work out in the world via PKM?

I met Zach & Iti (PKM) through my old housemates and pretty much instantly formed a bond with them. As people, they are some of the best out there! They're so creative, intelligent and respectful, incredibly inspiring to be around. They are a massive creative drive not only to this project but to my music as a whole. And to have such a personal project find its home amongst their catalogue has been truly heart warming.

What else can we expect from you this year?

Most likely a whole bunch of ambient music haha! I am currently working with Madeline Holt (the designer behind the album art) on creating an audio visual art project. Won't give much away but it looks like it will be premiered late March! Outside of that, hopefully working with Jasper more after this! Jasper did all the visuals for the record and it just blew me away, his eye for visuals is absolutely on point. He captured the project so well and just always understood my vision, right from the word go! Oh, and I got some merch on the way :3

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Interview by Emma Jones

Image: Cover art by Madeline Holt