BIG BANGERS: When I spoke with Aluna Francis, one half of the widely adored British electronic duo AlunaGeorge, she was spending her day off at the Space Center Houston, contemplating shuttle mechanisms and the idea of seeing the universe’s past through a powerful telescope. Though Francis doesn’t feel too inclined to venture into the stars any time soon — “I get detached from reality really easily, so I would get space crazy really easily,” she said — somehow galactic themes have recently been gravitating toward her in recent days. “I woke up on the tour bus the other day, and I was dreaming about having a conversation with the galaxy. That day I found galaxy-print underwear, and then in the evening we did a show in Tampa and a man outside was making art. He gave me a picture of … what do you know? … a galaxy.”
She couldn’t say what it all meant, but perhaps it’s a reflection of AlunaGeorge’s rapidly expanding galaxy of admirers and recognition. The year 2016 sees the duo of Francis and producer George Reid continuing to blow up with hits such as “I’m In Control (ft. Popcaan)” and “I Remember,” and this fall they will be opening for art-pop wonder woman Sia on her Nostalgic for the Present Tour with their other tour mate, Miguel. Some of their songs have become party-playlist staples — last year, DJ Snake’s remix of “You Know You Like It” became one of the most streamed songs of all time. With remixes and collaborations continuing to expand their sphere of influence, they’ve become one of the hottest electronic acts of the last few years. Tonight’s June 2 show with Kiiara at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, a RedEye five-year anniversary event, sold out weeks in advance.
Their universe didn’t just expand in one big bang, however. This widespread acclaim is the result of many years’ hard work and focused dedication, Francis said. It’s also been one of delayed gratification — last year’s monstrously huge remix by DJ Snake was of a song several years old. “It’s a progression that feels really good and in some ways natural — not to say that we expect these things but to say that we’ve worked very, very hard. We’ve taken it one step at a time to get further and further, and it feels really, really good, like something we’re very much able to embrace,” she said.
Francis and Reid share an intuitive nonverbal connection that allows them to work together without having to overexplain, and the two adapt well to one another’s aesthetics. Having met after Reid remixed one of Francis’s songs with her other band, My Toys Like Me, the two continue to blend Francis’s indie songwriter abilities and distinctly enchanting voice with Reid’s glitch-hop gifts.
What’s more, they share an appreciation for daringly different pop music. Having a “desire to talk about something slightly off-center to the pop-genre conversation,” and Reid adding angular influences from his math-rock background, the two aim to make music that swaps pop convention for individualized invention. “What we are trying to do with each other is create something from that very kind of niche world to communicate in an honest and simple way without being commercial. We’re very much down with experimentation,” she said.
With chopped-up vocals jaggedly decorating their catchy, radio-ready melodies and with the subterranean, deeply bass-y buzz characteristic of London electronic music, AlunaGeorge’s music has an appreciatively artful design. Part shimmering synths, part emotive and soulful vocals, they’re in line with other electronic vocal producers like collaborator Flume or the U.K.’s Disclosure.
This fall, the duo will release their next full-length, I Remember, which should no doubt ensure an even wider expansion of their cultural cosmos. For those lucky enough to have scored a ticket to the hot event, enjoy yourselves, as if you needed any encouragement. You know you’ll like it.