It’s been nearly three years since British duo, AlunaGeroge have gifted fans with a studio album. But in that time, they’ve made sure their name hasn’t been forgotten. They’ve toured the world from California to Europe, performed at numerous music festivals, and given fans something to bump to all year long. While a pat on the back is well-deserved, the journey is far from done. In fact, the group is forging an even brighter and eclectic path on their new album, I Remember. And they’re tackling some majorly powerful social issues, too.
AlunaGeorge, comprised of Aluna Francis and George Reid, have something completely unique about them. Although they’ve often been thrown into the EDM category, they’ve made great strides to include a vision with their upbeat tempos and feel-good vibrations.
On their new album, I Remember, that giddy and overwhelmingly happy feeling doesn’t leave, but they’re also bringing a distinct perspective into the mix: their own. One of the album’s lead singles, “Mean What I Mean,” featuring Dreezy and Leikeli47, should give you a taste of what to expect. The feminist anthem, which is a chronicle of real life events, tackles the subject of consent and sexuality. But while it is darker in its content, it presents a sexy and sassy message than your average moral song.
I Remember is the natural progression for AlunaGeorge. It tells a story of vulnerability, sexiness, and transparency. Aluna Francis stopped by the VIBE headquarters for a brief chat. And while she admitted to always looking to the next great thing, she told us everything you need to know about I Remember, which debuts on Friday, September 16 on iTunes and more.
VIBE: It’s been three years since your last studio album. Was there a reason for that, or was it simply part of your progression and creative process?
Aluna Francis: It’s not really that long when you think about what we’ve achieved in that time. We’ve gone around the world a few times and released tons of music since then. But writing an album for us is a very important thing. It’s not something you just wrap up in three months. We’ve written probably 70 songs for this album, and had maybe three different stages to the writing process. And we don’t double up on live shows and writing; we do it separately because they’re completely different things. We take the writing really seriously; it’s our number one priority. It can’t be done at the same time as touring because we wouldn’t get the right kind of attitude and concentration that we need.
In what ways do you think this album shows your growth and progression as artists?
Well, it’s different for both of us. For George, it’s more on the production side of things. And for me, it was all about the song writing, lyrical process. [In the past], it was easier for me to write from other people’s eyes. As long as it was a real story, it was good for me to get perspective on someone else’s life. [It] was much harder for me to write about my own stories. But naturally, as I built my songwriting skills, I built this space where if I was feeling very strongly about something, I could bring it into that space and could still get a perspective. The writing tools help me to stand back away from a situation, even though I might be in the middle of it, and find a way to see it from another perspective. A song should tell a story and it should have a beginning, middle, and an end, and resolve – not just leave. I never want to leave my listener just feeling one thing. If it’s about heartache, I don’t want to be like there’s no way to feel better. It’s about finding empowerment within difficult situations. I’m always looking for that. And it’s actually started to be good for me to get myself through these situations in life, get some kind of closure or understand why I overreacted to something.
It sounds like this album is going to be very transparent and vulnerable, especially now that it’s changing the perspective from looking out to looking within. Was this newfound openness an issue for you at any point?
It’s a really great thing because there’s a strength in honesty, whereby it’s the truth; you can stand by it and you can keep building a relationship with that and having part of being human as a musician part of your career. Artists that don’t have that can start to detach themselves from having any kind of meaning from their career. And then you have to find meaning from something else. I feel very blessed that I found a way for the music itself to have meaning to me as well as other people who identify with those sentiments.
The single “Mean What I Mean” is super honest. It also speaks on consent, which is a very current topic of discussion. Despite the fact that it was a real-life story for you, was it a conscious decision to put it out?
It was something that I needed to feel better about by somehow working out how I would prevent something like that from happening in the future, by empowering my future self. How do you empower somebody to at least be outraged by somebody disrespecting them? That in itself sounds like a small thing, but a lot of women can feel caught off guard if someone disrespects them because it can seem normal, like you’re making a big deal out of nothing. Obviously I’m not going to become a black belt Samurai to protect myself, and I’m not going to carry around a sword, but I can at least be bloody outraged. And that was a real motivation for me, but at the same time, it was a motivation to feel really good, excited, happy, and sexy about protecting myself. That’s the key to bringing that into any type of intimate or sexual situation, for you to not feel like you’re going to kill the vibe by being like, ‘You know what? You’re not actually respecting me right now…’ No matter what happens from there on, whether we get together or we don’t, you need to know whether I’m into this. And that’s important, and that’s sexy. But I think those are things I thought about later. And having Dreezy and Leikeli47 on that really made the decision to put it out there. It felt too corny on its own. There’s such an honesty to it that I wasn’t used to expressing. I was really unconfident about the lyrics. I was [questioning] like, ‘Is this really a song that people could dance to?’ So I was really blessed that they jumped on it and nailed it. It could never survive without them making it the right balance of seriousness and fun and sexy and protective.
It’s interesting that you went for a more upbeat club hit rather than the typical somber gloomy ballad.
I struggle with messages about feminism that are negative and sad and boring and very mature. I get easily put off by stuff like that. So if I try to give other people a message, I’m going to be aware of that. I don’t want to sit with somebody and [tell them], ‘Excuse me, you have to respect my boundaries because I’m a very important woman and I’m very empowered. This really isn’t acceptable.’ Can you imagine? You really just want to be like, ‘Don’t touch me! I’m not feeling it. Maybe I will later, but you’re not respecting me. Get your sh** in order.’ Be romantic or talk to me and have a really deep conversation; don’t just jump to use me like some kind of ho. That’s what I want to be able to say in those situations. I don’t want to launch into a monologue like I’m better than you because it just doesn’t apply. Everyone in those moments is trying to seem cool. So it had to be that way, or it wasn’t going to work for me.
What do you want the fans to take away from I Remember?
I don’t think about it. People can take what the hell they want from it. I have put everything into it that I have. And I will have more to put into new songs and new albums. At this point, it’s everything I have, everything that I’ve worked out about being a human being, [and] all things I love about different types of dance music and laid back hip hop and R&B. If any of that gets taken out by people that listen, then I’m happy.
On Twitter you wrote, ‘Waiting for this album to drop is like waiting for a cake to come out the oven…it smells good but will it taste good?’ That sounds like you have some doubts. What makes you nervous?
I am a pretty common artist in the sense that there are ways that say that you haven’t achieved what you think you’ve achieved or it’s not enough. I race ahead. I’m already thinking of the next album. I’m thinking of things we didn’t do. I think that’s what makes the artist so interested and invested in making this music. It is an obsession.
You’re going on tour with Sia. What are you most excited for?
I think that is home for us – an audience that is ready to listen to big songs with this feel good kind of music. We’ll probably bring a darker edge to it. And that’s refreshing for us. Because we’re known for our EDM features. We often get put on EDM stages. And that’s tough for us because everything is about the big build and loud noises, and we’re making songs. So being with two artists (Sia and Miguel) that are pros at presenting these songs is great for us. It feels like an opportunity to showcase us as the artists that we are trying to be, not how we might be perceived if you heard us on a Jack Ü track or things like that.
You guys always bring the upbeat, party music and focus a lot on making music that makes you want to dance. It may seem weird, but that type of energy is really on trend. What’s your take on it?
I guess we’re less weird than when we started out. But we always wondered about that because we thought what we were trying to do was really a normal progression. We heard a lot of weird, electronic music and then there were so many songs bringing those two things together. It seemed really obvious to us. But when we started working and trying to do it, we realized it was really hard. So anyone achieving it to success and getting people going, I’m pleased about that because the more music we get where you feel good and it has meaning, that’s great for everybody. That’s what we need; that’s all we have. There’s so much negativity around. And anything that is going to make people feel that way and it have a lasting effect just for that cathartic moment, I’m pleased about.