George Maple is one of the nicest people I have ever spoken to. Her cool, relaxed and bubbly personality was extremely refreshing as we chatted to one another halfway across the globe. As we talked production, men picking apart her lyrics and her new track Buried, I was once again reminded how friendly Australians are. But, George Maple aka Jess Higgs is now an artist of the world, spending most of her time in Los Angeles and jet setting between her hometown Sydney and London, where she relocated to several years ago. She’s got friends in many places and she isn’t afraid of audiences: casually mentioning she was dancing on stage the night before in front of fifty thousand people for DJ Snake’s set at EDC in Vegas.
Where are you at the moment? I know you like to travel and move around a lot, from Australia to London, to New York to LA, so I’ve found it a little hard to pinpoint where you are at the moment.
*Laughs* I’m in Vegas.
We had EDC last night, it was crazy!
How was it?
It was intense. It was awesome.
How you feeling today?
I’m good! It’s so funny, I ended up on stage with DJ Snake at his main stage in front of fifty thousand people but because there was no mic and he didn’t have any instrumentals I ended up just having to dance. I was like, what am I doing?
How long are you in Vegas for?
I have to leave tomorrow, I may have to go to Paris or I may have to go to LA. I will find out in the next few hours.
Are you still moving to LA? Cause I read somewhere you were thinking about moving there to further your songwriting.
To be completely honest I don’t really have a proper home yet, but I base myself mostly out of LA at the moment because it makes the most sense. It’s between London and Sydney and I’ve got so many incredible friends there. I had my birthday the other day and you know when you’re in a place and it’s not your home and you have a birthday and you’re like, maybe I’ll have a couple of friends… But I ended up with this party of twenty-five people or something, and I just realised how many incredible friends I have in LA. I really enjoy it there.
I’m loving your new single Sticks and Horses ft Goldlink, and the remix package you’ve added to it.
Thank you so much.
How long have you been doing production for?
I never really meant to do production, it was not on the cards. I didn’t even know I was producing, I was just making things. To me it was just writing. I wanted it to sound a certain way and eventually my manager at the time asked, who’s producing your demos? I was like, what do you mean producing? They’re written. She was like, no, this is production. There were a few instances when I was younger that people would bail on studio sessions and I remember being really down about it and it was something I really cared about. I’m very controlled with everything and for me, to be able to at least have the ability to do something on my own is really important. Whether I choose to do it all the time is a different thing, but having spent all this time working on production I think I’ve probably been doing it for three or four years or so. Being able to produce a track on my own, it hasn’t been that long, probably one or two years. I don’t want to do all the production on my own, I like working with other people. But sometimes you’ve got something in your head and that’s what ends up happening. It’s definitely not a rite of passage.
It would be easier for you though, you can kind of just smash it out.
I just think being self sufficient is important, it’s really just about continuing be able to challenge yourself to gain new skills. If you stop doing that, you’re kind of screwed. It’s all about trying and failing, trying and failing.
Your new track Buried with What So Not featuring Rome Fortune just dropped, and it’s really cool. I’m really feeling Rome’s vibe and I really like his style. Can you tell us a bit more about the video and how the collaboration came about?
The collaboration with Rome happened when Chris (What So Not) and I were in a car about three years ago and this track came on FBi Radio in Sydney – it was Rome’s track but it had been produced by Four Tet. We just thought that was so cool a rapper was working with an underground electronic producer. So we went and Googled him to find out a little bit more about him, and then him and I started talking on Instagram or something about fashion. Eventually we all met at Fool’s Gold’s Day Off in Atlanta and then Chris got into the studio with him. We’d already written the track so he just added the verses. We actually finished working on the track with our friends in LA with a group called THC (Kendrick Lamar, Drake) so it was a big family affair.
It was shot on a phantom camera underwater and it was funny cause everyone told us we couldn’t do it, but we managed to pull it off. You need so much light when you’re filming: we were filming it at fifteen hundred to three thousand frames per second so you need a lot of light to make that work!
Where was it filmed?
You know what, I’m from the Nothern Beaches of Sydney, and it was actually filmed in our local aquatic centre. Chris and I grew up in the same area and when Leticia Dare (Sticks and Horses) called us and we looked at the run sheet, it said it was being filmed at the aquatic centre. We were like, we used to do swimming carnivals there, is this really happening?
I know a lot of your songs are about sex, love and lust, do you find when you start dating someone or you get into a relationship, they start to pull apart your music or your lyrics or get nervous you’ll write a song about them?
If they do, they do not stay! *Laughs* But, it’s a really difficult thing. I think to be with an artist is difficult in itself, but to be with an artist that writes their own lyrics and potentially is writing about other people and their experiences or drawing from other experiences that aren’t necessarily their own, I imagine if you indulged in trying to pick apart the lyricism it would drive you crazy. I’ve had boyfriends in the past that have and they’re not there anymore.
Are you excited to come back out to Australia for your tour?
Yeah I’m so excited!
You’re playing all around Australia, including the Maroochydore Music and Visual Arts Festival. Discussing your music videos and how you like to have a lot of visuals and production, what can we expect from this tour?
I think that it will be theatrical. I’ve spent a lot of time syncing up the music and how the show flows with the lighting, the performance aspect and costuming. I love all that stuff so much and I love the idea that the music is being given a new space to live. It really excites me that I have full control of what that is. I mean obviously there’s limitations, I wish I could have a Beyoncé LED light behind me, but it will certainly be theatrical.
You have a very unique style, who are some of your style icons?
I really love divas. I love Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Cher in the 70s, Bianca Jagger. I just love strong women. I love that fashion and choice of garments are able to completely transform someone into what they are trying to represent artistically. I just think it’s so powerful what a costume or what a piece of clothing can do, not just in making people feel good. I guess that’s a generic representation of fashion, but I think that it has the power to create a story and it’s an extension of an artistic vision and I have so much respect for the fashion industry.
George Maple also performs at Maroochy Music & Visual Arts Festival, Saturday September 10. Tickets at www.mmvaf.com
Image by Darren McDonald