Words by Cameron Higgins
Georgina Koren, aka GEORGE, is a producer by day, songbird by night. After bottling up a musical passion for years, Georgina uncorked her vocal cords and debuted her first single “Starr Street.” The tune is a meditation on the sometimes painful closeness of relationships: both haunting and celebratory, the song speaks to the agony-in-ecstasies of making oneself vulnerable. Over skeletal piano riffs, GEORGE’s tune transitions from flowy, spoken word style lyricism to melody and back again.
Starr Street is a remarkable accomplishment for the freshman singer-songwriter. How many of us feel like we’re putting our passion on hold to pay the bills? Breaking out of the daily grind to create is a feat in itself, and a complex one considering Georgina’s musical roots: her mother was a performer, and her brothers’ form two halves of the musical group BRAVES.
Last year, Georgina started a production company in Greenpoint, Reid Productions, with her friend Liz Reid. She’s married to the renowned photographer Stef Mitchell. In short, though Georgina had plenty on her plate, she didn’t feel full. Thankfully for us, Georgina had a f#$@ it moment and send herself downriver on a musical journey.
Listen to Starr Street here, then read about her experience in our e-conversation below.
Hey Georgina. To start, can you tell us where you’re originally from?
I grew up in Sydney and followed my mum to NYC when I was almost 17. Both of my brothers had already moved over, so I was the last to join. I finished my last year of high school studying drama at a performing arts high school in Hell’s Kitchen.
Was there always music in the house growing up? What was it? Talk about the uniqueness of growing up in such a musical household.
My mum was an actress, singer and performer, so she was always singing around the house. Carol King, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Prince. My brother, Thorald, was singing and writing songs on the piano as young as 11, so there was always music going on around me.
How has your family’s musicality affected your relationship with music?
Everyone in my family has always really encouraged me to pursue music in whatever way I wanted. Being surrounded by such immense talent just meant that it was less likely for me to follow that subtle pull I had inside to sing.
What finally made you say “fuck it, I’m singing” and create this single?
I just got sick of fear holding me back. Also, I reached a point in my life where I had to have a creative outlet….or something was gonna give. I’m a photographic producer who works predominantly in fashion. I really love what I do, but the majority of the time I’m working out of my left brain so I just needed another outlet of expression.
Tell us a bit about your new track. What were you hoping to accomplish with it?
This was my first go at songwriting, so I was looking to make something that felt honest and like myself. I’d only ever sung covers before, so it was a different experience singing something of my own, that came from my own experiences. I haven’t really decided on what I’m trying to accomplish yet — this is just the beginning for me so I’m looking to keep practicing and exploring and see where it takes me.
Who influences you musically?
Who are your non-musical inspirations?
I’m a big lover of photography, it’s what I studied and it’s really my original passion. Photographers who inspire me are Sally Mann, Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin. My wife Stef inspires and pushes me more than any other influence. She doesn’t think like anyone else that I know; there are no rules. I’m a perfectionist by nature, so pushing myself to do something as subjective as music was a really powerful lesson in letting go of control and perfection. I didn’t find it easy.
Can you tell us about your creative process on this project?
I wrote Starr Street over Christmas at our family house in France, with my two brothers, Isaac and Thorald. They have a program called The Songwriter’s Journey where they take people who want to sing through a step-by-step process of writing and recording their own music. It started with voice lessons with Thorald, then some exploration sessions with my other brother Isaac about my life, my past, things that were important to me, the things that I felt I wanted to sing about. They also take me through a handful of exercises to prepare me for writing my own song, such as rewriting lyrics to songs that influence you. The whole process culminated in France with us writing this and one other song together. They very much held my hand through the entire process. There’s no way I could have done this without their guidance.
Talk a bit about the cover art?
The cover art was created by wife Stef Mitchell who is a photographer and artist. She hand prints all of her work and layers text over it in the darkroom. The image is from a recent trip we took to Iceland.
Lastly, if you could assemble three musicians from any point in history for a jam session, who would they be?
Lauryn Hill circa Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Jeff Buckley and Prince.
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