‘You Read My Mind’, starting their own label and unprecedented times: Catching up with GL
Two of Australia’s most exciting innovators in contemporary pop and electronic music, Ella Thompson and Graeme Pogson create music that just makes you feel good. Under their duo name, GL, the pair have been mainstays in alternative music for the last six years thanks to their uniquely infectious, uplifting and emotive electro pop. First dating back to 2014, they spearheaded a new sound in Australian electronic music and have maintained authenticity and relevancy since across acclaimed release after acclaimed release.
Having first arrived in style back in 2014 with their self titled three-track EP, the duo solidified their stake as an unstoppable force when crafting genuine and undeniable dancefloor fillers in 2016 with their debut album, Touch. Fast forward to 2020, and their back to once again fortify this standing once again with their second album, You Read My Mind. Serving as a warm hug or and extended hand on a lit up dancefloor in a time when we can’t do that again just yet, You Read My Mind is an enthralling, impressive body of work encompassing ten tracks which are all quintessentially GL.
From the vibrant ‘Pistachio’ to the swaggering stutter of ‘Rush’, the swoon of ‘Endlessly’ or the breathe of fresh air that is ‘Night Habit’, GL once again pack in so much into their record encompassing everything from disco, funk, grooves and pop to create that undeniable GL sound. A record custom made to let wash over you and surrender completely to the high energy and feel good vibes, You Read My Mind is escapist dance-focused bliss at its very finest. Here, we chatted to Thompson to dig a little deeper into the pair’s new record. Dive in below!
Congratulations on your amazing second album. How do you feel now it’s all out in the world?
Thank you! It feels good to have it out into the world. We have been sitting on the majority of these songs for a while and sometimes releasing them is the only way forward. Many aspects of life are on hold at the moment but we feel it was important to keep moving in the ways that we can. The message of this album feels relevant now and it’s great to hear that it has impacted people in a positive way.
Given you can’t celebrate an album release like you might’ve in the past, what did you do this time around to mark the occasion?
I personally ate my favourite croissants and enjoyed hearing from some friends and GL fans. Release day feels like a birthday.
You’ve said you wanted this record to be a bit of a reprieve for people. Something to escape in. We need music like this more than ever right now. Was it intentional to create this kind of escapist fun, or was it a case of it naturally occurring and you knowing to go with it?
Yes for sure we wanted this record to be about letting go and getting out of our heads. When we get together to make music it’s always a good time, we feel incredibly lucky to have this outlet and don’t take it for granted. We both want to work hard and keep getting better at what we are doing. When you throw yourself into the process you can forget about the outside fuckery for a min.
You created a lot of the record on the spot to keep things fun and spontaneous. You’ve also both made a lot of music since the release of Touch. How was it harnessing that experience from the last few years and applying it to GL in this new way?
Although this record is still in the electronic world, I feel like it is more of a live band record. I see that as where our sound is going. We have added two new members to our live show and we wrote a few instrumental songs with them. As Graeme and I play most of the instruments this requires a fair bit of looping and layering, we plan to explore the live, spontaneous and improvised feels music in our future releases.
GL has always had an innate “funness” to the music. It clearly serves as a form of fun and creative expression for you both just as much as it does for your fans when listening. Why has this always remained at the centre of what you do?
We started the project that way, it was never meant to be a ‘professional’ act. We just enjoyed hanging out and making squelchy weird sounds. I enjoy the vocal freedom I have in GL, I love singers like Mariah, Whitney and Brandy these women are geniuses. We are passionate about what we are making and would never make fun of the lineage of brilliant music we are inspired by but at the same time we know we will never reach such heights so why not let perfection go and get down to the essence of this music which is fun, dance and emotion.
You released this album on your own label. How important of a moment is that for you both, and what led to the decision to develop your own label? Does owning the label you’re then going to release your music on allow for a certain mental freedom which lends itself to taking more chances or creativity liberties with the music you’re creating?
We have been self-releasing our music since our last Destiny/Reflect EP and decided to make it official for our next full length album. It makes sense to us, we have a great management team at Astral People and distribution by The Orchard. Having our own label allows us to make our own decisions and release music whenever we like! Artists are becoming more and more self sufficient these days, creating our own homes for our work. We were particularly inspired by local labels like Milk Records, Flightless, College of Knowledge and also trailblazers like Italians Do It Better. These artist run labels continue to build their identity and fan base over years, we believe this takes time and consistency. The idea behind Pool Publication was that it could be a home for not just music but also have an interdisciplinary focus, showcasing a cross section of artists and genres, whether that be by releasing others work or as a media platform that can celebrate and share the work of our creative community. The label is still in baby stages but this is how we intend to develop it in the future.
This album was created before “these unprecedented times” we’re in, but it’s intent certainly hits home given the world it’s been released into. Does that reinforce why you wanted to make this record in the first place, or is it somewhat more nerve wracking given the extra reading people could make into it?
Songs and stories are always going to respond to the world in which we live, we respond to our experiences in very different ways. For better or worse our way was to make a funk album. I feel as though many of the songs on this album could be interpreted in a number of ways hopefully making them relevant in the ‘unprecedented times’. NB: Contagious is in no way related to COVID-19.
We obviously can’t ask about live shows on the horizon, so instead, I wanted to ask if this time away from the stage has given any new perspective or shed any different light on what performing and live music means to you?
I miss performing so much, it is personally such a big part of my identity and a big part of what makes GL = GL. Recently I have felt a comparable rush from doing live stream performances which was a surprise. Nothing can replace the real thing though, I think our community is feeling a bit meh at the moment. On the positive side this experience has made me appreciate performing so much more. I promise never to complain on tour again. The live music community is so special, I grew up watching bands and playing in bands, it’s crazy to think that it has all stopped. I know that as soon as we can everyone will be back, stronger than ever.
You Read My Mind is out now via Pool Records. Buy/stream here.
Interview by Emma Jones