George FitzGerald: "I'm definitely not someone who just plays instrumental house and techno"
Germany might have a lock on the techno scene these days, but when it comes to cutting-edge house music, the U.K. has the clear advantage. Just named one of the top fifty DJs in the world by Resident Advisor, George FitzGerald (due at NORAD this Saturday, December 14, with Need & Necessity and newnumbertwo) is one of the fastest-rising names in EDM, and his phenomenal house blends of garage, drum-and-bass, techno and dubstep are igniting dance floors all over the planet.
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FitzGerald's vivid soundscapes are alternately dreamlike and sassy, and his precision in the studio (and continued experimentation in that realm) has garnered the attention of such labels as Hotflush and Aus, which he works with when he's not putting out music on his own ManMakeMusic imprint. We recently caught up with FitzGerald to talk about his new track and upcoming album and more.
Westword: Can you tell me a little bit about your decision to use your own vocals on "Magnetic"?
George FitzGerald: I suppose, it's something that I've wanted to do for a while. I think eventually you want to try new things, and I always kind of believe in pushing myself to the places where I'm not necessarily comfortable because it always makes me better. And I just got a bit bored of using sample vocals, which is the thing 99 percent of people in house and techno do. it seemed the logical thing to move onto was making my own vocals rather than taking other people's. I'm really happy with it, it started off as a bit -- not a joke, but a playacting thing, a dark and sleazy thing, but I'm proud of it.
Did it make you nervous at all?
Strangely, if I'd done that three years ago, I'd have been like, "What am I doing?" But I felt comfortable and in the right place to do it, and ultimately, I've learned to be confident. I'm quite strict with myself. I try and apply the same standards to my music that I apply to other people's as a DJ. If I feel something's good enough I don't really worry about it so much when I play it to other people.
Is that kind of experimentation what we can expect from the rest of your new album?
I think for an idea of what the album is going to be like, that release, "Magnetic," is a really clear indicator for me. In my head and sonically, it's a real bridge to what the album is going to be like. It's not going to be like a lot of the stuff I've been releasing two years ago. I've moved on as an artist beyond that, and it's taken me to the place where I wanted to write an album, and felt I could do that. This is definitely the bridge for people. It might not end up being on the album -- I'll see about that -- but there will be more tracks with my own vocals and tracks where I work with singers. No throwback vocals like on some of the older records I've made.
What are you expecting from your first North American headlining tour?
I think my music does all the talking and people will know everything they need to know once they've left. Everything you need to know about me, you can hear from some of the mixes I've done in the past, whether for Radio 1 or Resident Advisor. I lean toward quite modern-sounding house and techno and things that are quite melodic, and I like a good vocal. I'm definitely not someone who just plays instrumental house and techno music for two or three hours.
You've done a great job of producing tracks and spinning sets that aren't classifiable according to a single genre. In what other ways do you see yourself branching out in the future?
I think one of the things that's going to happen on the album that's already happening with my sound -- I feel like I was originally making what people call post-dubstep, where the BPMs are really fast, I've got slower as I come into house and techno, and that's where I feel most comfortable, but I've always wanted to write even slower tracks, around 110 BPM, 105, and I see myself moving into that area. But I always seem to be moving around. I could never be one of those people who only writes one thing over and over, it'd be too boring.
People adhere to a formula and they don't change. They write twenty tracks the same, and I couldn't imagine anything more boring. I know that, short term, that can make you more successful. You can view it more like a product, so you often have trouble when you have a big tune. People want to hear the same thing, and you could get some people who say, "Why aren't you doing that anymore?" but people learn to expect new things from you, and it is amazing how much you can challenge people and how loyal they can stay to your sound.
What are some of the musical goals you want to reach in 2014?
My album, really, everything I'm doing is toward the album, which will be out before the summer, if people can look out for it from about April onwards. That's the big thing.