Interviews

Georgia Mae: “I’m being brutally honest with myself”

On Emma, Georgia Mae confronts a past relationship and her very real best friend Emma, but most of all, she confronts herself.

Emma, as Georgia Mae will tell you, “has layers”. It’s a song that interrogates a deeply complicated situation – one that Mae herself isn’t ready to fully divulge – but does so with wonderfully written lyrics and a mysterious flair.

It’s a beautiful song, and when stood side-by-side with Mae’s previous single Gentle (a ballad about the earth and its preciousness), it’s clear that this songwriter has levelled up. She’s more confident than ever, both in herself and in her skills as a creative – and it shows.

We spoke to Georgia Mae about this new song and new era, as well as her relationship to nature, how relocating from wide-open Lismore to busy cities like Brisbane and LA have affected her, about Emma, and much more. Read on.

Georgia Mae Emma

HAPPY: You’re just about to release Emma, which from what I can tell is about as personal as a song can get. So without going anywhere uncomfortable, can you tell us what Emma is about?

GEORGIA: Yeah, it has layers, and there are layers that I’m not willing to talk about publicly. And you know what? That’s the first time ever for a song, for me – usually I’m pretty comfortable talking. But it’s got a lot of backstory to it, and I ended up having to change… there were some people involved in the storyline that I needed to change up, so I did, and it turned out to be a good thing that I did.

It’s about being in a relationship where you really love that person and you believe in it, however it’s been rocky, and you’ve confided in your best friend, like ‘this thing thing happened but you know, I really love this person’. And then, them getting a not-so-good perspective on the whole relationship, and you being in that awkward situation where you feel like ‘crap, I shouldn’t have said that’, because you want things to be good. It’s just a complicated situation, but you know, I think everyone who’s been in a relationship can kind of relate in some way. Nothing’s perfect, and you do have a few people in your life you can confide in.

HAPPY: Definitely, and if someone hasn’t been that person, they’ve been the friend.

GEORGIA: Exactly. And friends only want what’s best for you. So it’s a rocky area… but I wrote a song about it!

HAPPY: And Emma is the actual name of your friend?

GEORGIA: Yeah, Emma has been my best friend for frickin’ ever. We met in choir together when we were in school – but it wasn’t even school choir, it was this recreational, outside-of-school choir. So we were legit. And we’ve been best friends since.

HAPPY: There’s a lot of fake names in pop music, so that’s really sweet.

GEORGIA: It’s a real one.

HAPPY: Is the song an apology, in some way?

GEORGIA: No [laughs]. There’s no apologies, it’s pretty brutal. It’s brutally honest to my partner at the time, to my friend Emma, and really what I wanted to portray at the end of it is that I’m being brutally honest with myself. I think sometimes you are in a relationship and you overlook certain things – well I’ve certainly done this – you know, I’ve got my friends saying “back out” and… at the end of the day, the song is me talking to myself through the lens of Emma.

HAPPY: Sounds like a good healing moment, and Emma sounds like a good friend as well.

GEORGIA: She’s a very good friend.

HAPPY: There’s this thing I was told ages ago; that most listeners will assume any song about a relationship is about a romantic relationship. But Gentle is about a relationship with the earth, and Emma is about a friendship as well as a romantic relationship – is that expectation something that you’re aware of or something that you like to play with?

GEORGIA: For sure! As a songwriter I already naturally gravitate towards writing about romantic relationships and I have to make an effort to write about something that isn’t romantic, but as listeners we’re naturally drawn to songs about that. It’s the magic of music or the magic of romance, I don’t know. That’s what was weird about my last single Gentle is that it was about my relationship with the earth, and even then, it can be interpreted as a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend or whoever. It’s funny.

HAPPY: And has writing these songs that aren’t necessarily about romance changed the way you listen to other people’s music?

GEORGIA: For sure! I think now more than ever, in mainstream areas, we are hearing more songs that aren’t about lovers, like protest songs – there’s a lot to protest about now. Which is really cool! I think it’s great for music and especially pop music.

HAPPY: And as a rule do you like to leave your songs up to your listeners to interpret, or do you enjoy dropping some breadcrumbs?

GEORGIA: I don’t like to be too explicit, I like to let people use their imagination and be creative. At the end of the day, everyone’s living their own life and have their own experiences, so you can only hope that a listener can identify with just a bit of what you’re saying, and then use it in their life however they want it.

HAPPY: And to talk about Gentle for the moment – which dropped right in time for COP26 I noticed, well done.

GEORGIA: Thank you.

HAPPY: How would you describe your relationship with nature?

GEORGIA: Integral to who I am! It’s integral to who we all are, and I think we are all so… it’s easy to forget that, these days. So I just like to think about growing up, I was… my feet were on the grass! You know? I was constantly in touch with the earth, and it really shaped who I am today. I think there’s so much to be learnt from nature on so many different levels, and yeah, I think we forget that it’s really informed a lot of who were are, even subconsciously. It’s everything! We would literally not exist without it, even if we went to another planet, we’d need some sort of environment there to look after. It’s just the most important thing, I don’t think there’s anything more important than your home.

HAPPY: Being stuck in the city now, have you found you’ve had to force that connection in some ways?

GEORGIA: Definitely. I’m lucky that I have a backyard that has some big trees, and I’m living off a park so I can get out. I like to look at the sky as soon as I’m in a place with no buildings [laughs]. I do notice that when I was living in LA, it was a lot easier somehow to drive out of LA and all of a sudden, I guess you’re in the desert, but national parks for example were a lot easier to access than they are here. It’s just the landscape, I think, it’s flatter and geographically easier to move around. So I kind of miss the days where I could get in the car, go an hour out, and be in this open space. I need to make a bit more of an effort here, I find, more driving up mountains – and I get really carsick, so…

HAPPY: Not quite in the stage of your career yet where you can just buy a farm somewhere and build a recording studio there.

GEORGIA: That’s the dream! That’s literally the dream, it’s so cheesy and classic but that’s it. To be able to make your music in the middle of nowhere.

 

Emma is out now. Stream or purchase the single here.