If it weren’t for a MySpace message three years ago, singer Aluna Francis and producer George Reid might never have joined to form AlunaGeorge.
“I sent Aluna’s old band a message on MySpace, asking if they’d let me do a remix for them. I was just looking for things to do, to be honest,” Reid says. “They liked what I did, and beyond that, it was sort of suggested that we should write together.”
The two musicians met, hoping to generate material for Francis’ band. Instead, they found that they had a chemistry all their own. In the last year, the electro-soul duo has become a powerhouse of the outdoor festival circuit and was ranked second on the BBC’s Sound of 2013 list — all before even releasing an album.
Francis and Reid spoke with NPR’s Jacki Lyden about their full-length debut, Body Music, which is out Monday.
Francis: “They had a huge impact. They were pretty much pop music at the time.”
Reid: “I guess it’s because it was all in the U.K.; we got exposed to a lot of it when we were younger. And it had such a — this a horrible thing to say — but, like, an otherworldly quality to it. It had all these amazing samples that were put in this new light. And it was hearing that alongside stuff like Air and Bjork, listening to that kind of music when I was a teenager, [that made me say,] ‘How do they do that? I want to learn that.’ “
On learning from other big-voiced British singers
Francis: “I am often on the lookout for inspiring vocals, and I think the thing that inspires me most about a female vocal is if I can really feel their character coming through. Obviously, that was something that really happened when you were listening to Amy Winehouse. But artists like PJ Harvey, The Knife, CocoRosie, Robyn — I love all those quite honest voices where you get a lot of character behind the voice. It’s not just about powerful or sultry or those kind of elements. I like something to be striking and interesting, and that’s what inspires me.”
On covering Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It”
Reid: “Well, we both adored the song. And because we were doing some festivals last year, and this year we’re doing loads of them — this is all without us having an album out — so we’re expecting a lot of people to listen to an awful lot of songs that they’ve never heard before. It was a case of having something that people would recognize in our set.”
Francis: “A feel-good anthem that we could make our own.”