It is this expressive energy that she brought to the table with her new album Lover, set to drop on 27 October, and which she calls ‘the soundtrack to a fierce yet fractured existence.’ Maple doesn’t sound fierce when we talk on the phone, however, though she is fresh off the long flight to London from her native Australia and could be justifiably crabby. Instead, she sounds warm and relaxed – ready to talk the emotional impact of her new album as well as what lies in store.
Hi George! I guess we’ll start with the basics – what is it that first made you start making music?
I think that I’ve always had this desire to create… I’ve been painting since I was about two years old and dancing, any kind of form of expression, and I think it just turned out that I was given a voice and an ability to create music and I seemed to gravitate towards that! But it’s been since I can remember – I think I wrote my first song at age nine, so it’s been such a huge part of my life forever.
You started off performing in pubs and bars in Australia – what are your first memories of performing live like?
My first live professional gig I can remember, I was thirteen…
Oh wow! That’s so young!
I know! And I looked really old – I’ve always looked a lot older than I am, I’m hoping that I plateau! [Laughs]
I was asked to sing two songs with my friend’s dad’s band at a pub in the city and I was clearly way too young to be in a pub, but because I looked older, everyone just assumed that I was overage! I think that was my first professional experience – as a thirteen-year-old in a pub with lots of old men! [Laughs]
For the first year of your career you didn’t really show your face to your audience; you said you wanted to build up a relationship just between them and the music. What made you decide to put your face to your music in the end?
I think at the beginning I was really adamant that I didn’t want to have to conform to the expectation that I suppose as a female you must have a ‘face’… Basically when I first started, I don’t know if it was a different time or culture or just a headspace but I really didn’t ever want to have to conform to the idea that because I was a female, because I looked a certain way or because I had a visual identity that I had to present that as part of my ‘sell’. I really wanted it to be about the music.
And then as I developed as an artist and started exploring different parts of the project beyond the music, it became actually another form of creative expression… I started thinking about it like that and it opened this gateway to a … really broad spectrum of creative ventures… I just think there are so many opportunities to be creative and I think once I started looking at it from that perspective it changed my view – it wasn’t this imposed expectation that because I was a woman I had to have this particular identity, it was because I as an artist had decided that this was my identity and I wanted to share that with people that I was connecting with.
This record explores vulnerability a lot, for example on tracks like ‘Hero’ – do you think that this album is an example of how that empowerment and creative control you talked about goes hand in hand with exploring something like vulnerability?
Definitely. I think that this record is actually almost a form of therapy… You know, everyone goes through things in their lives that as a reaction to it they build these walls around [themselves], and I think this record actually, for whatever reason, the way that it’s come about and the process behind it has helped me so much as a person and as an artist to really break down those walls. And I think that only just now, now that we’re coming to the release of the album, am I feeling like I’m almost at phase one of the artist that I want to be, like I’m just starting it. I needed to create that album to break the walls down so that I can actually start from this real place of honesty and authenticity. And there’s been a lot of my own insecurities along the way, [and] the record reflects that and you can feel a bit of the struggle throughout it.
You’ve said that this album is a bit like therapy and that you’re ready for a new phase. Do you have any idea what that’s going to look like?
Yeah, actually I have been writing again! As soon as I’d finished [and] put this album down, I started writing again and I’m writing every day and I think I can see a new chapter in front of me. But I’m really excited to explore this chapter in its full capacity and find a new meaning from it during the release phase, whether that’s sharing videos or sharing other people’s experiences and kind of really being there with the record during this period – and then we’ll move onto the next chapter.
Thanks so much for talking to us, George! We can’t wait to see what you do in the future.
Watch the official video for George’s new single ‘Hero’ below.
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