London’s synthpop, alternative R&B duo AlunaGeorge continues their North American tour with a live performance in SF at the Mezzanine on Wednesday, October 14. AlunaGeorge has received immense acclaim thanks to their upbeat tempos, vivid vocals, and eye-catching collaborations with the likes of, brotherly house music duo Disclosure, and cryptic electronic producer ZHU.
Since the release of the band’s 2013 debut, full-length album, Body Music, a Critic’s Choice win at the 2013 BRIT Awards, and a viral remix of their single, “You Know You Like It” by DJ Snake, AlunaGeorge has been continuing to grow momentum.
AlunaGeorge, consisting of passionate vocalist Aluna Francis, along with sophisticated producer and instrumentalist George Reid, are putting the finishing touches on their unannounced sophomore album, which is expected early next spring. They plan to drop the first new single from that record sometime before the end of this year.
We spoke with vocalist Aluna Francis to learn about her development as a songwriter, details on some of the duo’s noteworthy collaborations, and to find out what she enjoys most about coming to San Francisco.
Who are your vocal inspirations?
Etta James, PJ Harvey, and Radiohead
How did you learn to write songs?
I first did a lot of improv in a couple of my bands and felt pretty limited by that. I started to read about poetry, creative writing and also about basic songwriting ideas that there are. For example, if you use a metaphor, not to use different metaphors in the same song because it’s confusing. When to switch to the third person. Those basic things you wouldn’t think about when you’re just trying to talk about how you feel or something. That really opens up the ability to become a storyteller in a way that makes sense in it all somehow.
What was your initial reaction to George Reid’s remix to your 2009 song, by your previous band My Toys Like Me?
It wasn’t me that was the driving force in that. My co-writer at the time was literally obsessed with George and understood that there was something very fresh about his production. To me, I’m not a production head. I like what I like and it has to be pretty simple for me. When I met George and spent a day in the studio with him, that’s when it all started to be.
Do you think you learned anything from working with Disclosure on “White Noise”?
I didn’t learn anything. It was just a happy day where everyone felt inspired. It happened so quickly, there wasn’t time to learn anything.
Did you seek out mysterious electronic producer ZHU to collaborate or did he find you?
I found him. It was middle-of-the-night research and I found a way to get a message to him, which meant that when we were at the same festival performing, his manager came and found me and asked if I wanted to comes and say hi.
Where has been the most rewarding show you’ve played this year?
That’s easy peasy. Rock in Rio with A-Ha and Katy Perry. It was a blood moon and then a fully blown storm with thunder, lightning, and a huge amount of rain. It was insane! My keyboard player was wiping his keyboard and had things covered in cellophane and was hoping not to get electrocuted through the whole thing. There was like a river of water, it was huge.
What do you enjoy most about coming to San Francisco?
We love San Francisco! You get this huge city, but you also get this mellow vibe, which is always conflicting, but we love that. The city is always grey. I love those hills. They’re absolutely petrifying, but they’re also good for a workout when going back to your hotel. [Once] we had this moment of, ‘how do we get home if that hill is basically vertical’? We didn’t have any way to getting a taxi. We ran into some people who said ‘you have to walk’…We’re like, oh yea?’
Does your upcoming new album have a release date?
The broad release Spring 2016. Then we’re going to release a single at the end of this year.
Is your former band My Toys Like Me still active?
That ship sailed very quickly when I started to work with George more. Basically, I was given an ultimatum, either I would be 100% committed to life with My Toys Like Me or I had to leave. And being the founder, if you don’t have a vocalist in a duo, I don’t think it’s right. You can’t replace one half of that. That would be like replacing La Roux the singer with someone else. You know?
Do you have anything else in the pipeline?
I don’t know. I think me and George, we’re generally really excited about the new material, so we’re going open that up to the possibility of a couple of collaborations.