AlunaGeorge: on first name terms
When Aluna Francis and George Reid first met, it was musical love at first sight. They talk about the joys of making “flopsie wopsie” pop
They make a striking pair, Aluna Francis and George Reid. Sitting in a stuffy boardroom in their record label’s offices in London for another day of answering questions, it’s easy to see why and how these two have become a successful partnership. This is one of those telepathic working relationships where the other person is always around to fill in the blanks or, in the case of Francis, do most of the talking.
She’s gregarious and giggly, a woman who takes great pleasure in flummoxing an interviewer with how she describes her music, as we’ll see below. Reid, on the other hand, is quiet and studied, the stereotypical bedroom producer with a fierce, deep enthusiasm for and curiosity about his electronic music influences and peers.
You’ll find both sides of this collective personality on Body Music, their debut album. It’s an album of rich, off-kilter, strange sounding pop music, full of simple radio-friendly melodies, r’n’b flickers and experimental wibbly-wobbly loops. It also has some devastatingly infectious ear-worms.
If AlunaGeorge had a mission statement, says Francis, it would go a little like this: “How can we get elements like interesting sounds, weird flopsie-wopsie beats, vocals and song structures to go together? That’s been our goal from the start. The common ground was this thing that we hadn’t heard yet.
“George might start with a weird sound like this (she squawks like a demented seagull) and we’d go from there. Or I might say ‘I’ve got this ballad and it goes like this’ and he’ll go ‘do you mean something like flopsie-wopsie?’”
Interviewer and interviewees collapse with laugher. “I don’t know how you’re going to transcribe flopsie-wopsie, mate,” guffaws Francis.
They first met when Francis’s bandmate in her old band, My Toys Like Me, came across Reid, formerly of math-rock band Colour, on MySpace.
“Gus said ‘this guy, this producer, I don’t understand him, you gotta meet this guy,’” remembers Francis. “I was like ‘OK, this is interesting, I like the sound of it,’ so Gus brought me to meet George at this café. Gus was in the middle of us going ‘you two should get in the studio and write some songs for the band,’ so George went ‘OK . . . what is your name again?’
“I went along to George’s house to write songs for my band and we bumped heads for half a day and it was just not working so we decided to scrap all that and start working from scratch. He’d already done the music for Double Sixes and when he played that, I went ‘woah! Scrap that other idea, this is amazing’.”
Reid had worked with vocalists before, but this was different. “None of them had an unique voice like Aluna. It was a very instant result and I couldn’t believe it. Double Sixes had a particular melody for Aluna to sing and she came up with some wonderful words right away. We cheated our way into it.”
Their relationship to date has been fairly row-free, says Francis. “We’ve disagreed as opposed to fought. Our opinions on music are so similar so we’re lucky. We trust one another’s judgement so if someone has a convincing argument or a bee in their bonnet about wanting some sound in, we tend to agree.”