Updated: Feb 1
Photo by: Jo Jo Guest' courtesy of HobNob Photography.
British-born talent, Georgie B. has a long history in the music business. He sings, writes, produces, and DJ's. He's done it all! I was able to catch up with this super amazing individual and ask him a few questions about his musical journey. Here's what he shared with me.
Ok, Georgie, how did it all begin for you?
I have been singing, writing, producing, and DJ'ing within the music industry since 1980 (41 years), starting with the hit 80’s British jazz-funk band Second Image and now with the award-winning Groove Association. In April 2011, I was invited to sing (with Second Image) at the 02 Theatre in London, as part of the 30 YEAR CELEBRATION OF BRIT FUNK. This sold-out concert was a 'must-attend event for the soul family placing me alongside another great British soul / jazz-funk acts such as Incognito, Imagination, Beggar & Co/Light Of The World, Junior Giscombe, David Joseph, and Central Line.
As an accomplished singer/ songwriter, producer, remixer, and with the resurgence of the British soul and jazz-funk scene, I felt the time was right to go solo. So, In 2011, I founded THE GROOVE ASSOCIATION, and ‘Let's Break The Ice‘ was my first single release, this was soon followed by 'Old Skool Magic'. I released my debut album in April 2012 titled 'LET'S BREAK THE ICE'. This critically acclaimed album hit number 2 in the UK Soul Chart and paved the way for 4 additional album releases, '3 AM'. 'Soul Family Affair', 'More And More and It's Been So Long', working with UK Singing Sensation Deborah Bell, my old Second Image bandmate Weston 'Wez' Foster, and Silky soul singer Everis. These albums were real game-changers for me, all hitting No1 in multiple Soul charts and picking up awards for 'Best Single', 'Best Soul Album', 'Best Soul Artist/group and 'Best Album Design'. plus, I also won the "Ground Breaking People's Choice" Award for 'Best UK Soul Artist' thus helping me to generate new fans all over the world!
What's the independent music scene like in the UK?
The independent music scene in the UK is very vibrant, with the radio and club DJ's willing to support acts they believe in without requesting payments or favors. We have a symbiotic relationship with the DJ's, clubs, and promoters over here, which is one of the main reasons why indie soul artists from other countries are coming over here for a piece of the action, (and we welcome them all).
How do you manage being a radio presenter and artist?
I have been a radio DJ / presenter as well as an artist since 1985. Juggling the two is not always easy, however all the multiple radio stations I have been connected with in the past 35 years have all been very supportive, understanding that my artist duties will always take precedent.
As a DJ and artist, are you more compassionate regarding the struggle of an artist that's trying to be played on the radio?
Definitely! One of the advantages of being an artist and a DJ is that I truly understand the struggles independent soul artists go through regarding receiving radio plays. So, I find it particularly rewarding when I can assist in this matter. Basically, if I like it, I'll play it!
What is your vocal range?
My vocal range is around 1.7 and 2.4 octaves, however, in some cases, it can be even higher.
How would you describe your musical style?
My musical style is 'Old School' jazz funk and soul
When did your professional career begin and how did it happen?
I suppose you could say my professional career started with the signing of my 1st professional record contract. That was in 1979 as a member of the Brit Funk band Second Image. Four years later we then signed to MCA Records. It all began with my elder brother and I, (who was the founder member and bass player in the band) taking a chance and handing over a demo tape to Robbie Vincent who was one of the top BBC specialist soul DJs at the time. He immediately became enamored with our sound and asked if we had secured any management as yet. Our answer was no. The rest as they say is history, as he became our manager for the next 8 years.
What challenges does having your own independent label have?
The hardest challenge is the fact you are 'self' funded. This means all recording and promotional costs have to come out of your own pocket, with no guarantee of a return. They used to say "never use your own money" but there is simply no way around it as the traditional A&R representative that all record companies used to have and rely on to find new acts, simply does not exist anymore. In fact, most record companies now rely on the artists to generate their own exposure/success before they even begin to get interested.
In your opinion, what does it really take to “make it” in this business?
The obvious one is 'determination' as you have to find it within yourself to keep going, no matter how hard it gets! The less obvious one is 'ego management' as not everyone is going to love, (or even like) your music. I think managing this demographic with respect and understanding is the key, as there can always be those that can be convinced to re-listen to your music with a fresh pair of ears. Last of all there is 'Consistency'. Being consistent with your music is key to building your fan base. Once people buy into your sound and Identity, they will not only continue to purchase your music, but they will spread the word among their family and friends.
In your opinion, what's the best and worst part of being an independent artist?
The best is that you have 100% freedom to express yourself musically without any record company or corporate exec saying, "Can't you write something like this" (referring the latest chart #1). The worst part is having to finance and promote yourself, (including videos, reprographics, and photo shoots etc.).
Have you ever released a song that you really thought would be a major success, but it didn’t do as well as you expected? Tell me about an experience you had like that?
To be honest, no. All the tracks and albums I have released thus far have done well within the independent soul demographic. The reason for this is that I give my fans / supporters the kind of music that they can't get on 'mainstream' radio stations. Basically, music with that nostalgic 80's classic soul vibe, but with 21st Century production values. I also don't give my music to ANY of the streaming sites, (Spotify, Amazon, iTunes etc.) till approximately 10 - 12 months after the release date. This creates a buzz and a need to buy direct from my website.
Do you have a daytime job or is music your full-time job?
Music is my full-time occupation; however, I do also have an Employment Law Degree and was concerned that Covid 19 would force me back into corporate life. However, things are looking up now, so I do not envisage going back into law any time soon.
How important is it that your friends and family support your music by purchasing and downloading your single? How crucial is their support for the success of your career?
It is important to get your friends and family to support you, especially early on. However, you can't rely on their support going forward. The real recipe for success is to get people you DON'T know to buy your music. This leads them to feel like they have discovered you and will be more likely to spread the word to their friends and family.
How do you feel about the concept of likes and dislikes on an artist's social media music-related post? In your opinion, is that an accurate assessment of the artist's talent, worth, or ability?
Likes or dislikes are so subjective. If I put my music into the wrong demographic, I would receive an abundance of 'dislikes', however, if I place the same song in the correct demographic then I get a very high percentage of 'likes'. I personally don't take it too seriously and I don’t think it asses my talent, worth, or ability.
What have people who have heard your music say about your vocal style that sets you apart from another vocalist?
The feedback from my fans, supporters regarding my vocal style is that it's very smooth, upbeat, and 'timeless', with nice falsetto interjections.
If you can speak to your fans from your heart and tell them one important thing that you want them to know about being an independent artist, what would it be?
That's an easy one. Please buy direct from the artist website, as we are all 100% independently funded and would cease to exist without their support.
What advice would you give to new artists entering the changing industry?
Approach it like a new business, have your funds / savings in place, have a 2/3-year plan, study your demographic, and get to know the top radio / club DJ's who play within your chosen field. Also, your aim should be firstly to sell your music via your website. The various streaming sites have their place, but not at the beginning of your release, you can give it them later. And lastly make sure ALL your social media platforms, (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc.) are up to date.
If you can speak to DJs from your heart and tell them one important thing that you want them to know about being an independent artist, what would it be?
I know the world moves fast these days, but please remember that the artist can take months to record a single and up to a year, (or maybe more) to record a full album, so if they could give the tracks a little more airtime that would be fantastic.
How would you describe your music to those who have never heard it before?
Classic (80's style) soul 'n' jazz-funk
Do you write and produce your own music?
Yes, I play various instruments and also have my own fully equipped recording studio
What does it really feel like to be an Independent Artist? Share your heart with our readers?
Being in the position to write, perform and produce my own music can be a labor of love sometimes, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I really feel a day-to-day joy being an independent artist, something I never felt before when I was signed to a major label. The interaction with my loyal fans / supporters is so immediate, informative, and rewarding. I truly believe that you're never too old to learn, so I welcome their feedback and have implemented some of their ideas moving forward. My last thing to add is every time my phone vibrates, and I see I have made another sale, I am humbled, truly humbled.
How do you prepare yourself mentally for public opinion (either positive or negative) when you’re preparing for a new song release?
I try to think of myself as an everyday guy within the soul demographic, then ask myself "Would I buy this song" (I'm my own greatest critic). If the answer is yes, then I move full steam ahead. If the answer is no, then it's back to the drawing board till the answer is yes!
Have you ever felt so discouraged in this business, for whatever reason, that you just wanted to throw in the towel?
I've never been discouraged with the business 'per se' More of how the whole Covid 19 pandemic has affected the business. Basically, driving a lot of music venues and musicians into bankruptcy, thus affecting artists shows & personal appearances etc. That did make me consider throwing in the towel.
How many singles/albums do you have out presently and what is your favorite album/song to date?
I have released 8 singles and 5 studio albums. My favorite single to date is 'More And More' but choosing a favorite album is a hard one. It's like asking which one of my children I prefer. However, I thought hard and decided that my favorite album the most recent one, was titled 'It's Been So Long'. I'm leaning towards this one as it was written right in the middle of the pandemic and I caught Covid prior to being vaccinated, so I had to dig REALLY deep to find the will and strength to finish it.
Tell me about your latest album/ song and what was your inspiration behind it? Is it out now and where can people buy it?
My latest album is called 'IT'S BEEN SO LONG' which hit the Christmas #1 spot in 2 separate soul charts in the UK. The inspiration behind it is how long it's been since we danced with our friends at nightclubs, bars & party's, etc. because of the worldwide pandemic.
My latest single is called 'BEST BELIEVE IT' which hit the coveted #1 spot in UK Soul Chart in January 2022 The inspiration behind it is how I dealt with a situation in my past when a good friend who I really had hidden feelings for decided to make her feelings to known to me as well.
You can purchase both of the above, (and much more) direct from my official website http://www.georgiebmusic.com