The nostalgic pop duo give an insight into their latest music…
“‘Reflection’ is about looking into your past, whereas your ‘Destiny’ is the future you are hurtling towards.” It is a sentence so wholly apt to GL that it is unclear whether band member Graeme Pogson is aware of the total significance of it. Alongside Ella Thompson – the other half of the Melbourne-based duo – Pogson creates contemporary pop music that revels in its own nostalgia. It’s all a bit disco, in the best, unabashed and celebratory way possible, their 2016 debut album Touch so potent in 80s grooves that it could have been plucked straight from the era itself.
Both Pogson and Thompson are self-confessed nostalgia hounds, their love of past decades helping to solidify both their friendship and GL as a band. “We met in the early 2000s, both performing with various bands in Melbourne. I’m quite a bit older than Ella,” explains Pogson. “But we’ve (pretty much) always seen eye to eye musically. After playing for other people for several years we decided to try something fun, just the two of us, no pressure or expectations. We were both thrilled with the result and it’s just gone from there!”
Despite their self-confessed love of the past, GL’s music always succeeds in feeling fresh. Their latest outing – the aforementioned AA-side Destiny/Reflect – marks their swift return to the musical playing field, with efforts that are simultaneously more expansive yet more refined. “Our plan for this year was to explore longer, dance floor ready forms. We started renting a new studio space in Fitzroy, which allowed us to record live drums and expand our instrumentation from the sequencer based sound of our previous bedroom-studio recordings. This spurred on the creation of ‘Reflect’, because we could finally explore a song outside the confines we’d imposed on our previous work.”
Listen to ‘Destiny’ and ‘Reflect’ as part of GL’s playlist of favourite tracks to dance to on a night out and discover more below!
You’ve said the song was the result of an extend jam you had in the studio; do you find that jamming yields some of the most surprising results in your songwriting?
The rhythm bed was created during a jam with our good friend Phil Binotto, one of the country’s finest percussionists. We were just improvising and seeing what came out, then once we listened back we could pick the parts with the most vibe and create a bed from there. After that though it was a more considered production process, trying things over the rhythms and experimenting with chords, bass lines, melodies and lyrics. But yes, jamming can definitely spark ideas you didn’t know you had! Ella always comes up with great stuff when she’s just riffing over the top of something.
What makes you keep dipping into past decades for inspiration? Did they have an influence as you were growing up?
Yes, since a young age we’ve both been hugely inspired by vintage/retro music, especially soul and funk from all eras. Seeing as these were our initial influences and we’ve continued to absorb those sounds to this day, it’s inevitable that it will come out in the music we create.
What is it about music of that time period that continues to be so popular now?
The level of musicianship, creativity, song writing and conviction of performance was incredibly high. There was so much feeling and honesty, so much going on socially that pushed people to create timeless, soulful music. All of those factors contribute to sounds that transcend time. People will be touched by the voices of Aretha, Etta, Luther and countless others forever.
Last year’s album Touch also played with a lot of pop sounds from the 80s and early 90s, though your ‘Reflect’ and ‘Destiny’ feel more refined. Have you consciously reined it in a little?
Yes, our previous work was inspired by the more DIY, sampler and sequencer style of production prevalent since the mid-80s, when producers had the power to create music outside of the large studio model and be more home-based/self sufficient and experiment with crazier sounds. We wanted to take it further back sonically, borrowing more from the lush era of music from roughly 79 – 83. Although we are still nowhere near the fantastic quality of music that we’re referencing, we wanted to inject some of that human feeling into our sound, which previously has been more of a stiff, robotic, wacky, sequencer based sound.
It’s been less than a year since Touch was released. How do you keep churning out good songs so relentlessly?
Thanks for the compliment! It’s our job! I’m in the studio every day making silly ideas and Ella is endlessly creative, so we just need an outlet for certain things that we each come up with. GL is the perfect vessel for a lot of that work. We are career musicians and we take this very seriously, even though the result sometimes sounds light hearted and fun.
Your music just makes us want to dance! How does your audience react to your music when you perform live?
We’ve been humbled by the response from our fans, having shared some very intense, steamy-sing-along parties that we will remember forever. One small crowd we had in Brisbane in particular springs to mind, as does our Howler show last September. Our music is supposed to make people feel good, dance, laugh and have fun. We strive to make every audience feel these things, it doesn’t always work (not everyone is down with our funky, feel good vibes), but when it does we see a lot of smiles.
Who would your dream collaborator be and why, dead or alive?
Graeme – “Mine is George Clinton. I’ve always been so inspired by the creativity, funkiness and humour of all things he has been a part of. I’ve been obsessed with his work since I was 16 and I’m still discovering new things, his output seems bottomless.”
Ella – “I’d love to Jam with Erykah Badu. She’s such an innovator and I would love to be a fly on the wall in one of her sessions.”
GL’s Destiny/Reflect vinyl will be available soon and features a dub mix of ‘Destiny’ by Haima Marriott. The band play the following shows in 2017:
Jul 15 – The Corner, Melbourne
EU + UK
Sep 2 – Dimensions Festival, Croatia
Sep 6 – Hope and Ruin, Brighton
Sep 8 – The Victora, London