AlunaGeorge's debut album Body Music came out three years ago, but it left a lasting impression on our taste buds. Bursting with a sensational electro-meets-R&B flavor that we hadn't been exposed to before, the London-based duo had us hooked from day one.
At long last, their sophomore album I Remember is finally out. A few days ahead of the album's release, we hopped on the phone with Aluna Francis to talk about the newest endeavor. She describes it as taking the listener on a journey with music that they don't expect. It's a "body of work that's not replicating the same form done in different ways."
Francis filled us in on the meaning behind every single track on I Remember, as well as how some of the collaborations came to be. Every song works for a different situation, but at the end of the day, AlunaGeorge wants you to "feel empowered and really awesome on the dance floor."
While you dive into all that information, stream I Remember now via Spotify.
"Full Swing (feat. Pell)"
"'Full Swing' is really an experimental start. I was working with kind, ambitious career women. I have definitely suffered from that old kind of, when you hear about your love interest just not being able to support that ambition and the fact that you're away for a night or you're not putting all of your attention into a relationship. I reject that. Instead of going, 'Oh, I'll never find a person,' I let the song create a story for me that gave me hope. So that story is about a couple, where the woman is a high level athlete, like the Olympics. Yes, she's independent, and yes, she's done all the work to get to where she's going. She loves her partner, who's just cheering her on and just expects her to be her best, and put everything she has in that. The story is the undertone, the driving force of the song. The rest of the story is about the joy of putting all of yourself into an endeavor and I think that's what's living is."
"My Blood (feat. Zhu)"
"I worked with [Zhu] before so we're more familiar with each other, which means that we had to be more experimental. We spent hours just throwing around different ideas, kind of stroppy, and we went back to a track that he was working on. It was really, really different to how you hear it now. He's not a man of ego. He'll get into something. He really let me play with the production with him. We dismantled it and put it back together. What I heard really sparked my interest. I get really turned on by production sounds, which is why I always really enjoy getting involved the production process because I can just get inspired by those sounds. The baseline was just so good I was like, 'I have to mix my vocals with this.'
I guess I was feeling like I never wrote anything remotely political because I found it so difficult. But on that day I just felt like I was able to get closer to Europe by just talking about the feeling that it brings up. I'm not going to be specific about the actual context that I was referring to, but in general, it's a story about a character rejecting power and asking their higher powers, who benefit financially from getting all of us to fight each other if they would be willing to stand on the front line. Would they really put themselves on the line? If the answer was no, in that case would we carry on fighting? Would you try something else? Like a little bit more human? So, that's what 'My Blood' stems from. I don't know if it comes across in the lyrics, but that's where it comes from."
"Not Above Love"
"'Not Above Love' was really surprising to me because it is a song about a place that I was trying to avoid thinking about. I felt stuck in this feeling, kind of like a twilight wherein someone actually helped me personally get to a really good place. That first verse is really about how I don't relate to this relationship. The chorus is a realization that the person is robbing my energy, robbing the love I was giving him. I needed to reclaim that. I had to call him out on it, not necessarily to him, but at least to myself and just take back. There's power in that. It's not easy to stop feeling a certain way about someone. I was lucky that I managed to write a song about it that actually helped me. So, I don't know if it'll help anyone else in that situation, but it's definitely helped me."
"Hold Your Head High"
"I wanted to talk about procrastination and the fear of going all in for something. Like, the passion for something you might consider a hobby. As a musician, I put myself on the line. I put everything on the line. I put everything I had into this jamble. I just wanted to give everyone who's trying to do that some confidence. You know, hold your head high. That fear you get when you know you're supposed to be something and change something and the inclination is to hide and stick your head in the sand and wait for the storm to blow and see if you'll survive. But, I'm just saying, get out there. I'm obviously not saying to go and stand out in the middle of a hurricane or a storm. But, get out there and go for it."
"Mean What I Mean (feat. Leikeli 47 and Dreezy)"
"It was so great having Dreezy and Leikeli47 on the set for the music video. They are so much fun. As soon as they came on I was like 'Yay!' I made sure I was surrounded by lovely people to get me through the day. 'Mean What I Mean' is, as people said, a sexy song about consent. Now, I did not start the day thinking, 'I wanna write a sexy song about consent,' but I did start the day having this thing that had happened to me driving me nuts. The thing that made me really angry was my lack of confidence in the situation. I was like, 'I just need to feel better and I need to come up with something that can actually apply to another intimate situation.'
When you're with somebody that you either like just as a person, or who you actually like [as something] more, or whatever, you're not going to start preaching to them in the middle of whatever's happening. So, I couldn't write a preachy song that was all serious and feminist in a serious way, that is like, not kind of actually applied to a real life situation. I'm like, 'All right, If I could replay this scenario, what would I have done?' And I needed something like a flick of the hair, a sassy, 'Don't fucking touch me, you dirty filth. That's not how you get to me. First of all, you've been rude. Second of all...' You know what I mean? I wanted something much more fun with this kind of joy of 'I know who I am and what I'm worth. I'm a woman, but you don't get to have what you want just because you want it and I'm sorry, but whatever you're doing right now is not turning me on. So I do not consent. It's not because I'm frigid or I need to be bowed down to like some sort of princess. I just mean, I'm not into it, so change your behavior.' That's what that song really is. That's why it's like a dance track."
"I was out one night and it was a crazy night where stuff went down where you're more of an observer. It was like a wild L.A. night and I was watching these two people. Who knows the reality of the situation, but I heard one of them say to the other, 'Don't act like you're jealous, cause you're not,' and I was like, 'Oh, woah.' It just sparked my interest so much. It sounded like a situation where she fancied him, the other guy kind of knows it, but pretends not to know it and when he stops getting that attention, he starts acting jealous to get the attention back. I was like, 'Oh, I've seen that before. I gotta make a song about this.'
"I'm In Control (feat. Popcaan)"
"There's two phases I think to your sexual discovery and journey. Stage one is working out what you like and what your preferences are. The second one is actually saying it in the moment. That's the hardest part. I started off this song with, 'Yeah I know what I want and it's not what the media tells me and what other people tell me I want. It's actually something else.' Then you define that and it comes down to the actual situation. I was getting all embarrassed and shy because there was stuff I was discovering and I think that as a girl, it's kind of embarrassing. What if the other person is not into it? So, I thought, 'What would you need to feel in order to voice some of these things?' And that's where the chorus came in. The other aspect of it is that I'm not talking about just bedroom situations, I'm talking about in life as well. You are your own expert. People appreciate what you want because then they can get it right."
"I can get over people, but I can't forget them. There's something that gets left behind. If you're not with that person, you're fine and then you bump into them and all of a sudden you're just like, 'Oh shit.' All of these memories just come flowing back. So that song encapsulates that feeling you get. You can't wipe your disk, you're a human being."
"In My Head"
"This one is really close to me. This guy started off as my assistant and we grew closer. Straight away, he put himself forward as someone who was going to be really dedicated and there for me. I'm not very good at telling people directly that I really appreciate them. I don't know why. I get too emotional; I just can't get it out. I was thinking about this and I was like, 'You know what? I should write a song for him.' It took ages and ages. I remember one day we had gotten an Airbnb that was a total disaster and we ran away to a hotel in the middle of the night and we slept in the same hotel room and the next day we were miserable. I was miserable, I was being a total diva. He was like, 'I've got this' and just figured it out. Watching him I just came up with the song. That whole song is about him."
"Me and George wrote this. It's kind of electronic to start with. We finished it and we were like, 'Is it good?' Then George was like, 'Let me have the song and invite one of my friends who plays instruments to get on the track and put some live instruments on it.' I was like, 'Oh, okay. If you really want to.' That's his baby, that's George's baby. There's so much about George, it's very much about George as a person. It's about being stuck in a love triangle where you're the person mediating all these stupid arguments. It's interesting sometimes when the music's just as important as the lyrics."
"'Heartbreak Horizon' was inspired by this taxi driver. At the beginning of the writing session we had a talk about like, funny stuff, and someone was like, 'I'm late because I tried to get into a taxi and this taxi driver just wouldn't take me in the route that I asked for, he was like 'I'm the taxi driver and you can either get out or let me drive.' She was like, 'Stop the car. I'm getting out the car.' I was like, 'That's absolutely hilarious, that's what we're writing about today.' It's about wanting to just get in a car and telling the person who's driving that you need to go. I was like, 'Where would you need to go with a broken heart?' That's where this song comes from. Also, the way we wrote it, George came up with some music that was so outrageous it made us laugh. That was also the inspiration for this track. Some of it was written on a guitar inspired by blues songs."
"'Wanderlust' is really about just inventing the idea of what wanderlust sounds like. Lyrically, it's kind of about someone who's been attracted to all that's fascinating and all that life can offer and being entangled with a special person but trying to explain to them, 'I'm sorry, I can't give up what's out there for this relationship because I'm just a victim to the wanderlust.'"