Interview: Georgia Anne Muldrow

Other-worldly in the most natural and organic way – the eccentricity and magnetic energy of Georgia Anne Muldrow is disarmingly real. A true original, Muldrow seems to be navigating on an entirely elevated plane of awareness, and, to be amongst the very few individuals in this world who are true to themselves.

Hailing from Los Angeles, multi-talented Muldrow comes from an intrinsically musical background, as both her mother Rickie Byars-Beckwith and her father Ronald Muldrow are themselves established musicians. And, following the trend of musical partnerships, Georgia Anne is herself married to the poetic emcee Declaime (a.k.a. Dudley Perkins). The couple were both signed to Peanut Butter Wolf’s worshipped label Stones Throw, of which Georgia was the first and only female, and continue to work together, and with various artists, on SomeOthaShip Connect.

Since her 2006 debut EP Worthnothings, Georgia has been putting out music full of soul, meaning, vision, truth, and love – not to mention beautiful melodies and heavy hip hop beats. Earlier this year, in collaboration with Blue Raccoon FM we caught up with Georgia Anne in New York at S.O.B.’s to chat about her latest album Seeds, production methods, messages, and generally surviving in this crazy society…

Could you summarise your album Seeds and the ideas that are in it?

It’s just like a visceral Blues-prayer. The song structures are based on ancient song structures, and I’m just lending my breath to it. It’s really tribal, real Blues-ey, and it’s very unapologetic. So I love it – I really like the album and I’m not tired of it yet!

How was it working having another producer (Madlib) produce for you?

Freeing, it’s really freeing. It’s wonderful and dope. It was different; I had never done it before.

Previously you have composed all of the elements yourself: the beats, the backing…What are the advantages and limitations of when you do everything yourself?

I’m just in a different space when I make music. Usually I sing over the music I make right then and there, so I’m in a different dimension of thought. If I’m making the music – the drums came through, the chords came through… so I’m in a very esoteric place. By the time I’m singing, I’m singing something that has more soil in it; you can taste the soil.

I like collaborating because I can just concentrate and get straight to where I would be starting with drums or a chord, but I can just go to the voice. So, collaborating made it more direct.

In your music, your use of imagery is so earthy and connected to nature – do you feel that nature is a constant part of things?

Oh yes, I’m a cycle of nature. That’s my practice. When someone asks me what do I believe? What is it? I’m a disciple of nature, an initiate of nature.

How do you see that with the way that hip hop is now – with everything being so digitalised – do you think that there is any kind of conflict or do you see it as all the same thing essentially?

Well, it’s about what you’re putting into it. Because I feel like music is all energy, so it depends on what you’re putting into it. Music is energy, and I realise now at this moment why I am mostly a computerised musician; I realise that is the territory that I’m supposed to purify. I’m not saying ethnic cleanse, or saying I need to take it over, but I need to chart some spiritual territory in the realm of computer music as it is. With beats see that the consciousness of the divine stakes out his little flag there. The rest can be what it is, but I’m providing the balance for that expression of music.

Before I used to be like ‘oh – but – I arrange with a computer and…’ I think all that is just pontificating and not getting to the music. I think it’s just tenets of fear, being fearful of getting to what your calling is. When you have your calling, you could have a cassette tape and offer something to it, or you could have a garbage can lid and offer something to it. It’s like semantics – technological semantics.

Everything is technology; even planting a seed is technical. My role isn’t to be in judgement of the computer for offering me everything that I’d imagined the sound to be and actually bringing it into being born. That is amazing to me and I’m thankful that I live in an age where that is my job. It’s wonderful. To hear something out here being articulated to you, and being able to completely transcribe it to a T, is wonderful. It’s a blessing. I can’t complain about that. I can’t complain and say I wish it was a real musician, because the musicians are real. You might not be able to see them, but they’re real to me.

You were the first and only female artist on Stones Throw Records – did that mean anything to you at the time? Was that something that even registered for you?

You know – it didn’t register. On the real tip, it didn’t register because I’ve never been like ‘I’m an artist making music and I’m female’ – that wasn’t my angle, because this music comes through me and it’s more about the message. I’m not being a caricature of femininity, I’m just being a person, and I’m just being myself. Know what I mean?

It’s about something bigger than that.

Yeah. The music is bigger. The first record I released – “New Orleans” was the first cut on there, so I was really thinking about New Orleans, instead of thinking ‘I’m a female artist’ on songs. Know what I’m saying?

Thinking in that mindset can box you in…

I just thought show business. All the things that come in life, they bless me, but I’m not seeking that. I’m seeking something different. It’s like I’m seeking the macro, but the micro be blessing me.

One song of yours that really inspires me is “Break You Down” – could you say what inspired you to write that?

Colonialism. “Don’t let them make you forget who you are. Don’t let them break you down.” Most of the reasons why people bully each other are a symptom of a colonial and oppressed society. And then people who don’t even realise that they are just pawns of that establishment, seek to do it to others. They seek to do that to each other and they don’t even know how to communicate anymore. They don’t know how to communicate with the people that they love the most, because in a colonial fashion their vision of success has everything to do with the colonial reality.

So that’s what my whole thing is: growing up is hard to do, most folks won’t have a clue about you or what you came to do, but keep stepping. Life is its own reward. That’s not colonial living or a colonial mind-set where money is a reward. Trappings are rewards in the colonial mind-state. I’m not saying I’m free of the symptoms of colonial reality – I’d be lying. I’d be lying through my teeth. But at the same time, that does not mean that I am not informed by the great natural reality, the reality of natural things.

So when those come into your life, your existence, you can’t let it break you down because you know you have a job to do, you know you’re being informed by natural things as well. You don’t let it break you down. Don’t let them make you forget who you are, aspiring to have what they have because it looks sweet to them, because you don’t see them when they get home.

And at the same time it was me telling myself that. The ignorance is bliss thing is real – once you find out that so many people are going through so many struggles and you’re a sensitive person? You feel like you’re alien sometimes.

But there’s strength in that sensitivity too.

Yes, there’s a lot of it. But that song is for people like that, like me, because I know I’m not the only one – I can feel that. It’s funny because I did that music when I was like seventeen, but it sounds like an old lady writing the song. I knew something was coming through because I think I was singing about something bigger than my experiences at that time.

I remember ?uestlove of The Roots heard that record back in the day and he was like ‘I still don’t believe that you’re not forty years old!’ The way he said ‘a forty year old woman did that’ – I just looked at him like ‘whatever…’ But now I realise it could have been.  She might’ve just been sitting by me – the forty year old angel somewhere – pointing to the paper. It’s possible.

So that whole concept I take with me every day, because there’s just so much out there to break everybody down. This existence is just a threat to natural things. Last year was really a breakthrough year for me because I decided to be open about my spiritual realities. To be open to the fact that I talk to rocks, to be open to the fact that I’m very sensitive. I don’t have to hide it anymore; it’s not for me to hide.

I find the more that I communicate those things, the more that the elements that aren’t supposed to be around me run away and I’m like ‘thank you’. The truth of who you are is your armour. In the last year I really embraced it and it bloomed – it’s all part of not letting me break myself down by this illusionary social construct of what a person should be.

In an interview I read you had said that you’re striving to be like a medic in your artistry – so I was wondering if you see music as a form of medicine?

You know the answer to that…Yes, yes.

You have a very musical family-background – say you hadn’t had that initial grounding in music do you think you would have found it regardless?

Well, if they had had the same minds but didn’t do music? Probably I would be in jail. I think definitely we have a tenet of social engineering – we’d be dedicated guerrilla social engineers, like my mother and father at the time they were together. Definitely guerrilla social engineers a la Black liberation army. I mean, I’m still a Garvey-ite. It would have been something more biologically based, something to do with life. And it still would’ve been scientific – they’re in the science of music you know. I definitely would have probably been arrested.

You feel like music saved you from that fate?

Well, it ain’t too late! I’m not going to underestimate what we’re up against. But I think whatever the medium is, I would have been communicating – it would have been some kind of communicative life. I would have been striving to communicate the lesson that repeats itself over and over again in all types of ways – there’s only one lesson but it takes on different colours. I would still be valuing my lessons, and if I was asked to share my lessons I would still share it.