I have been an admirer of musician Georgia Ginnivan for many years now. We met at work while we were both at Uni in Canberra and I was always intrigued by how she balanced her many creative pursuits alongside her studies. When I found out she was moving to Berlin to focus solely on her music and photography, I was naturally very excited for her, imagine the freedom of living in a new city and being able to explore your creativity! Having watched her career blossom from afar, and after hearing of her return to Australia to tour her upcoming album, I thought it was high time we sat down for a chat.
Emma: Why did you move to Berlin?
Georgia: Towards the end of my university degree I was feeling pretty dead creatively. My guitar was getting dusty, and I wasn’t satisfied with the work I was doing… I just wasn’t putting enough time into it. During my honours year I decided to move away and spend some time focusing solely on my creativity – music and photography in particular. I had heard great things about the scene in Berlin – adventurous, risk-taking, yet community-driven, collaborative and relaxed. My sister had lived there and said there were punks walking around with rats living in their hair… it sounded like the place I had to live in!
E: What have you been doing there?
G: Lots of different stuff. I’m furthering my analogue photographic practice at a community-run darkroom and print studio called Stattlab. I’ve also been dabbling in fashion photography and more formalised portraiture. Music-wise, I’ve been performing a lot, working on songs, getting a band together. I babysit, walk dogs, teach English and work at an app to get money.
E: Tell us about your music. What is your creative process?
G: It’s a bit hodge-podge. I carry a notebook everywhere to write down ideas, and record melodies or certain lines into my phone. Usually I get phrases or lyrics first, and then try and find chords to match them. It’s been nice working with other musicians and arrangers – to get the most bang for the buck when it comes to chords and certain musical phrases. That said, I am developing a routine for myself. I try to spend at least half an hour every morning grounding myself, mostly through yoga, meditation or writing.
E: What about your photography?
G: Music and photography complement each other for me. Photography is observant, patient and reactive, whilst with music you have to put yourself front and centre. I love photography because you can just sit back and capture the world as it is. My lyrics are quite visual, and often I write about scenes that I see and imagine the characters within a picture. It’s great to spend winters in the dark room, slowly processing prints, and making lots of mistakes along the way. It’s a beautiful, magic process and it’s really great to be in a community of other photographers in Berlin. We’re at all different stages at Stattlab, from hobby photographers to professionals. But everyone supports each other and we hold regular exhibitions together.
E: Why the move back to Australia? What’s the plan?
G: I’m actually still living in Berlin! I’m in Oz for two months, then back to Berlin in Feb. I haven’t thought past January at this stage – I’m organising a tour of the Australian East Coast. In February I’ll probably have a holiday, then get back into it. The plan for 2017 is to have an album release party in Berlin with the full band. Probably in March or April. I’m working with my friend Caitlin Hodder who is a costume designer to design me a performance piece. Past that, I’m not sure. I would love to tour within Europe, play bigger shows, improve my Ableton skills.
E: Tell us about your relationship with fashion.
G: It’s a mixed story! I’ve always been interested in dressing up. I love colours, and tongue-in-cheek clothing – particularly op shop finds. When I first moved to Berlin I was surprised at how casually people dress. I actually rolled around in hoodies and tracksuit pants for 6 months because no one really cares what you wear. It’s not like London. But then wearing that didn’t make me feel very good, so I got back into vintage stuff. I really enjoy dressing up – giving the message to other people that you’re important, or someone noteworthy. And then you feel that way too. That said, I grew up on a farm and love wearing daggy clothes too. Collaborating with Caitlin Hodder has been great – she takes clothing seriously and approaches projects holistically. For my graduation dress she sewed my favourite poem by Pablo Neruda into the silk lining of the dress. Wearing tailor-made pieces makes you feel really special.
E: Do you dress or style yourself differently when you perform?
G: I love the camp, showy nature of performance. Glitter, gold, sequins, bright colours. Frills, lycra, you name it. I’m still developing my stage identity though. The clothes have to be comfortable, moveable and reliable. I need to feel in control, and powerful. So sometimes more classic, refined clothes are better. It depends on my mood. Last year I got dumped before a show and I dressed in winter-witch gear. Black dress, dark eyes, big black hat. It worked wonders!
E: How important is collaboration to you?
G: I think you need to figure out what’s driving you as an artist first. And then you can collaborate! It’s given me so much meaning to work with other exceptional artists, and to have them believe in the work I’m doing. Berlin is a great place for collaboration because everyone wants to improve their work, and everyone is looking for more opportunities to do so. People are so generous with their skills and time. It’s important for me to work on my own, but when my ideas are kinda formed, then I open it up to other peoples’ input.
E: What’s next?
G: Getting through this tour, being the best I can be. Then a holiday! And then back to work –
lining up bigger shows, working on new tracks, promoting the new album. And getting back into photography.
Top Image: Georgia Ginnivan
Second Image: Anna Aicher