Georgia Anne Muldrow's latest album, Overload, is easily the most pop-focused effort in her huge catalogue.
Georgia Anne Muldrow has forged one of the most singular careers in modern soul, building a bold, freaky discography of avant-garde jazz, scratchy record samples, traditional African forms, and eclectic collaborations.
The teaming of Muldrow and the Brainfeeder label always looked good on paper (she is from Cali, after all) and, coming off the longest album break of her prolific career, this new record is a stunning blend of cosmic funk, crisp 1990’s-style R&B, and percolating slow jams. If there’s any justice in the universe, Overload should broaden Muldrow’s appeal and net her the kind of mainstream attention she’s traditionally shunned. Speaking over the phone from Las Vegas, the singer laid out the process behind her dazzling new record.
It’s been a long break since your last album. Was there a reason for that?
It cracks me up! Two years; I didn’t realize it was that long! I’ve been so busy doing collaborative work. These past two years I have actually been producing for other people, making music for other folks’ records and having a whole lot of fun! So, I wasn’t taking a break from music. I’ve been jamming, selling beats … something like that, anyway. One record in particular I did that I really liked was called Young Spirit that I did for Declaime (also known as Dudley Perkins). It had a very cinematic sound.
Did those projects end up affecting your approach to this new album?
No, I don’t think so. They were born out of the collaborative spirit I’ve been engaging in when working with all types of different artists. Sometimes they’re producing for me, sometimes I’m producing for them, but we’re always collaborating. I love it: doing features for different people I meet on the internet, all over the world! I guess I liked it so much I didn’t see the necessity of putting out a record at that time. I was just jamming with people, man [laughs]. There’s something special about getting yourself out of the way and focusing on someone else, seeing what they can do. Producing was always my first love. I ended up becoming a solo artist because my friends and family pushed me to believe in myself.
Having the open-mindedness to work with people from every walk of life must have really helped to shape the catalogue you’ve built.
Oh yeah, absolutely! If it’s not a real experience i’m having, it’s not going into a song. So definitely, I always have to keep it authentic. It’s real important to me. I can only be myself. We’re all a collection of our experiences and our preferences, you know? I’m no exception to that.
How have you found working with Brainfeeder?
I think my favourite thing about working with Brainfeeder is when we jam live. It’s so fun to be able to work with them on live shows. I think we’re a real force and it’s just really fun to be part of that powerful energy – to contribute whatever I can to my beautiful band and be part of something that’s radical.
Did you try to capture those connections on Overload ?
Oh sure, but I think the band’s interpretation of the music is what really gets me going. I love the way the album sounds. I really made an honest effort to create songs that could be accessible to people, and that’s been the hardest thing. Usually my sound has been something pretty left field and therefore I don’t blame folks for not understanding it because I know it’s out there [laughs]. This was my offering to people like my daughter and other people who love R&B. That’s a part of my life, too, and to be able to share that side of me has been really fun. I haven’t shared that side of me in a long time.
Songs like “Overload” and “Aerosol” have certainly resonated with people. Was it exciting for you to put them out as singles?
Yeah it’s something else: challenging myself by trying to engage with listeners while truly expressing what’s on my mind. I’ve seen an improvement when I do that – an improvement in the reception. So I’m thankful, man! I’m thankful that I can keep on making records. It’s just another facet of Afro-electric music. I love all of it.
“Vital Transformation” covers themes like growing and learning. Do you remember what inspired you when writing it?
People reached out to collaborate. Cats from the Philippines, man [producer Lustbass]. When I heard their song, I thought: “This is really pretty song.” But I had to sit back and really listen to the music to understand how I related to it. Once I gave it a chance to live in my head, it resonated more clearly. I Just responded honestly to it. My track reflects what I heard, some king of spiraling, you know? The name of the beat was called “Vital Transformation.” That’s a great writing prop anyway, right? A vital transformation: that’s pretty solid. So I just wrote into it. I imagined what it would sound like to make a Buddhist gospel song.
It had been so long since I’d done straight-up R&B like that. It’s just fun to try. Usually when I’m doing R&B stuff, it’s on the more rustic, rhythm and blues, side. So it’s fun to know anything is possible. It’s a blessing to do music for a living and to be able to try different things.
Georgia Anne Muldrow, Overload (Brainfeeder)