Do you remember when in 2019 we were caught off guard by that one song named "Touch" by Sharky? The sharp turns, the smoothness, and melancholic soulfulness got us all ears for the rising artist, and since then we can't seem to pass a tune from her easily. We have more details for that particular track down below, but in the meantime, we pinned her for a conversation so let us start from the beginning.
Before she became Sharky, Georgia Mason sold burgers back in the day. After her working hours, she ran out to experiment with her voice and step up her songwriting game. This doesn't stay unnoticed because Speakman Sound, Franc Moody, and LONO started collaborating with her, and after many late-night sessions, her music came to life and already reached the right ears. Yeah, we know, bold of us to say we have the right ears, but we do! Moving on.
Her dreamlike soulful style, dressed up with hip-hop influences and indie art rock essence is spotted by none other but the Tru Thoughts label (Alice Russel, Moonchild, The Bamboos), and her debut album People are Strange comes under their indie hat. It seems like we are not the only ones with the right pair of ears. Now we're talking about not only that but also why she's called Sharky, which song she would play to an alien, and the place that stayed in her heart.
Where are we finding you right now?
Right this very moment I am chilling on my bed at home, I've just done all the cleaning. It's Sunday, late afternoon. I've been home alone all weekend making music, I'm working on demos and have the first recording sessions for this new music at the end of the month with mega musicians for a whole week so I'm very excited and getting stuff ready!
For those who don't know - can you tell us how you got involved with music?
It feels like it's been such a long time, my whole life actually. My relationship with music has ebbed and flowed over the years and now I feel I have found what I spent a lot of time looking for, a harmonious little place where I don't seem to pile on the pressure like I used to, which has made way for more space and playfulness.
Back in the day my grandparents' music collection was within my reach and I would get it all out - vinyl, CDs... anything that caught my eye. I'd whack it on and find what I liked. I sang backing vocals for my dad's tribute band when I was 14/15 and I'd come forward and sing "Rather go blind" by Etta James and "I Wish I didn't Miss You". I started writing my own music when I was 18 and have constantly been developing and changing minds. Sharky is like... I have never felt more like her voice is mine but she's also this chick I don't know who knows me.
How come you loved sharks so much when you were little?
I just thought they were the coolest fish. The way they fly to the surface, up and out of the water. Their big teeth, their big fins. And it's one of those things, people start to know you have an interest and then the books come. I loved my shark books.
We noticed that you have a pretty specific visual concept. Can you tell us what is behind it?
Lots of dreaming I guess, I have trippy dreams and this one came from a picture I took once in Paris, I imagined walking through a door of a building and standing in front of big drawn curtains where I poke floating eyes that stare at me and they turn into money. I take the money and put it into a jukebox. Every tune has a visual in my head. I guess that's where it all begins. Working with Everyone's Favourite (animator) on this project was mind blowing because he brought these stories to life and made the music have a world. The visuals are unreal, I'm so grateful.
We read you were traveling a lot. Was there a place you told yourself you want to stay in forever, which one was it and why?
I've never been on big old stints but seen a few places that have inspired me so much. Todd and I went to Morocco back in 2016 and got so many field recordings which we still sample in new music. I reckon.. one day. I see myself.. old lady George.. as a florist in Greece. On the same street as a big historical site.. an old one. Coffee in the morn, nude at lunchtime, wine in the eve. Todd, of course, he'll be a tour guide. Now that sounds like the life of the old lady George.
How did you and your producer/husband Todd Speakman meet?
Well, I had been drinking... and got an invite to a party where I just so happened to see a guy I used to enjoy looking at outside college. I said "It's you!"... blah blah blah friends, then some, married, album, retirement - Greece.
How strange did the process get while you were recording your album "People are Strange"?
To be totally honest with you, 'Strange' I guess to me really means normal. That's what I'm exploring in this album - one person's strange is another person's normal. When writing this I was thinking about my strangeness, the things that have at times made me feel alone or behave in ways that have taken time to understand or even look into, and I'm wondering where that has come from and if influenced by relationships in my life, what developed their 'strangeness', their ways of being. I feel like I've made a lot of this music to vent my thoughts, play a victim, play a hero, give up, and try harder. I'm wondering about stuff. My surroundings during a lot of this were the lockdown. Weird surroundings because familiar home became a case of containment, a pause. Some days felt really uninspiring. The inspiration for this album is confusion - I spent a lot of my teens and early 20s feeling confused but I didn't have the bravery to be curious, it has been a wonderful process writing from this point now. Still strange.
And how did you get involved with Tru Thoughts?
Robert Luis played me on his Unfold Show. He played the music often and we got chatting. I'm over the moon to have released this album with Tru Thoughts. They are where it's at!
The song you came under our radar was "Touch". What is the touching story behind it?
Well, I guess a lot of touching.. hahaha. I was writing a bit of a celebration tune about being in love, but not letting myself just have it all, fears still lurk that anyone naturally can bring to any kind of relationship. I will never forget recording it in the studio and Todd's dad was visiting and hanging out. He said "this is baby-making music," hahaha.
Which comes first - the melody or the lyrics?
Melody always! I take ages with lyrics, it's a really choppy, bitty process whereas once I've found a melody it usually sticks and doesn't change. I squeeze lyrics to fit the melody.
If you were to play one song to an alien coming for a visit from far away which one would it be and why?
Kalimankou Denkou by The Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir - I'd be like "welcome alien, check this out.. this is what humans can do."
And how about if it was from your last album?
Hmm, probs "This is where you go to and come from". I'd say "Welcome Alien, travelling is fun but don't expect it to solve all your problems now ok?".