On her new EP, Fruit, surreal popster Sharky comes on like a perfectly wonky cross between Fatima, Jungle and the more accessible end of Inga Copeland’s Lolina project.
It’s an addictive blend of sugary soul, choppy electronics and deft rhythms, all washed down with acid-tinged harmonies that slip in and out of sync.
Built around stripped-back demos made in her London bedroom, the EP grew into something much weirder and more experimental at the hands of her long-time collaborators Todd and Guy Speakman.
Together with Sharky (aka Georgia Mason), they threw in everything from psychedelic jazz to candy-coated pop, turning all five tracks into the audio equivalent of a supersize bag of Haribo Tangfastics.
With her first headline London show in the diary for next week, and Glastonbury and Brainchild festivals already ticked off her bucket list, we spend a few moments with Georgia to find out what else she’s got up her sleeve…
When did you first get into making music?
I’ve sung ever since I was little. My mum and dad always encouraged me to sing in holiday karaoke competitions and that sort of thing. Then, when I moved to London, I started writing with lots of different people, and met Speakman Sound when I was about 19. We’ve been friends for quite a long time, and I started toplining for them. I loved it so much so I asked them to record some of my songs.
Was there a particular moment when you realised you needed to create Sharky as your musical vehicle?
Yes, definitely. I remember one special session in the studio with Speakman Sound, and we were working on a project of theirs. I was toplining on a song about Mars and I loved it so much – especially the energy in room and the musicians. I’d been writing songs and recording them on my own for a while and it’s a solitary experience. So I really got into the energy of the session and was keen to start Sharky to collaborate with everyone in the room.
Does songwriting come naturally to you?
Melodies come to me really quickly, normally when I’m bobbing around London or on my way to places. A lot of the melodies for the Fruit EP came when I was out in Morocco for a couple of weeks.
Then I usually write the lyrics to the rhythms and timings of the melody. Sometimes the words come easy and sometimes they don’t. One song, Hawaii, took a long time to write; it was the trickiest song I’ve worked at so far.
So there are particular environments that seem to help your songwriting?
Yes, noisy environments! I get inspired by lots of different sounds. I find a lot of the time I get my phone out and record into my Dictaphone. It’s good to be somewhere noisy, so people don’t know what I’m doing. I’m a bit shy about that! Loud places bring ideas of melodies into my head.
Then what happens?
I try to sit down once a week and listen to the melodies I’ve recorded throughout the week. I go in on them, try to write some lyrics, and harmonise with them.
How does your collaboration with Speakman Sound work? What have you learned and what have you taken to them?
I’ve learned loads. They’ve encouraged my weirdness. I don’t think there’s ever been a moment where they’ve told me I’ve gone too far or that an idea is too much. They also have a lot of crazy ideas themselves. I’ve learned a lot from that attitude.
Hmmmm, what have they learned from me? I know! If something is proving difficult and you’re stuck on lyric or a melody, go and make a cup of tea or get out in the fresh air for five minutes. I personally don’t like pushing through, I like to take a moment. They’ll probably laugh at that, but I think that’s what I’ve forced on them!
How would you describe your new EP, Fruit?
I think it really summarises a point in my life when I started to look outwards a lot more. I moved into a flat in London and started to keep a garden. I’m looking at it now and it’s absolutely manic! It’s really busy. I think a lot of that EP has to do with me gardening, watching plants grow, seeing how they interact. Those thoughts have transferred into my views and admiration for the earth and its power and fragility.
The ideas for Fruit started small, talking about my flowers and my day-to-day, and then expanded further outwards to observe the world.
To the uninitiated, how would you describe your sound on that EP?
It’s really playful – we took the walls down on structure – and also soulful.
What’s next for you?
I’m doing loads of writing at home on my keyboard or autoharp, and I make loads of demos which I take to the guys. We build them up from there.
I’ve just played my first festivals. Glastonbury was great, I loved it. It was my dream to play some festivals this year. I played Brainchild too, which was fantastic. The music was incredible. We’re going to play Wild Paths Festival next.
I’ve got my headline show coming up on 11 September, which I’m really excited about. I’m working on that now. I want it to be a proper show. I like to have choreography.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I discovered a band which I can’t stop listening to. I’ve been getting lost in their music. Two Banks of Four. I think they were on a Gilles Peterson show the other day, and I’ve had them on repeat this week. I also absolutely adore Solange.
Sharky’s Fruit EP is out now. She plays at The Victoria, Dalston, on 11 September.