The born-to-be popstar opens up about their wicked new album ‘DRUMMER’, their mammoth national tour, their role as a non-binary “spokesperson” and their undying love for their fans.
I remember the first time I saw G Flip live, at Splendour In The Grass 2018. It was 12:30pm on the Saturday, they were the first act performing in the GW McLennan tent, and after the prior night’s hectic triple-hit of Khalid, Dune Rats and Lorde, my hungover and dehydrated ass was in desperate need of caffeine – and it just so turns out the best (see: most tolerable) coffee at Splendour was opposite the stage Georgia Flipo was performing on. I didn’t know who they were before then, but the name became an immediate fixture in both my vocabulary and Spotify playlists.
This was roughly four-and-a-half months after Flipo dropped their debut single, About You, and two months after they followed it up with Killing My Time. Both tracks had already won the hearts of triple j regulars and the underground indie scene – the former earned them Pitchfork praise and an invite to SXSW – but neither had yet become the mammoth hits they were destined to (they’ve both gone Platinum since). Flipo’s Splendour ’18 crowd was sparse, but they didn’t care – they leapt around the stage like a kangaroo on pingers, cycling between their drum kit, guitars and a keyboard, all the while belting out infectiously anthemic hooks. I knew it then and there: this motherfucker is gonna be huge.
I was right. Later in 2018, Flipo was the inaugural winner of the ARIA Emerging Artist Scholarship, and they were nominated for that year’s Unearthed Artist Of The Year title at the J Awards. About You made it into the soundtrack of the US sitcom The Bold Type and in the early months of 2019, they had another major hit with Drink Too Much – their third single to go Platinum, and the #6 entrant in 2019’s Hottest 100.
That July, they won the AIR Award for Breakthrough Independent Artist Of The Year. And the following month, they hit a new career high with the release of their debut full-length, About Us. Cue enormous chart success (a #6 debut), award nods at the ARIAs, AIRs and Js, and worldwide acclaim en masse.
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Four years later, Flipo’s early success looks like child’s play. They were regularly filling clubs and overseas haunts at the end of 2019, but today they’re selling out some of the world’s most prestigious theatres, they’re an international hit (to the point where they’re currently based in LA) and their festival spots draw crowds that sprawl back further than the eye can see. They’re a bonafide superstar – and they don’t take a second of it for granted.
When they give me a call, Flipo is in the back of a van heading from Eora/Sydney to Awakabal/Newcastle, midway through a tour of meet-and-greets at Platypus stores around the country (ICYMI, they became the shoe shop’s first ambassador last year, releasing through it a self-designed line of Crocs). The reception is choppy, but Flipo’s excitement couldn’t be stronger. Rather than rave about their successes, they’re keen to rave about their fans – who they declare to be their number one inspiration.
“They're the reason that I get to do this as a job,” they beam, “and my job provides joy for so many people. It even provides joy for my close friends and family – my friends have the best time when I invite them to festivals, and my parents have the best time when they get to follow me around on the road. My job has put smiles on the faces of so many people, and it’s 100 percent the fans that made that happen. There are people I'm meeting at these meet-and-greets who have been supporting me since day one – a couple are even getting tattoos of my signature – and it's these people, this incredible community around me, that’s given me this wonderful life. So you know, I just want to pay it back and do my best in this role.”
Keeping the excitement bounding is the imminent release of Flipo’s second studio album, DRUMMER, which lands on shelves tomorrow (August 11) via Future Classic. Industry figures predict it’ll top the ARIA Charts, which tracks: its two singles, Be Your Man and The Worst Person Alive, both cracked the Top Ten in the indie singles chart (#7 and #2, respectively), and have racked up a cumulative six million streams on Spotify alone. But again, Flipo isn’t so fussed about where DRUMMER charts or how many copies it shifts: “It’s just exciting to be getting it out there,” they gush. “I absolutely cannot wait for for everyone to hear the songs.”
DRUMMER is, after all, a massive leap forward for Flipo as an artist. A lot has changed since they dropped About Us four years ago – notwithstanding the whole global pandemic and widespread sociocultural upheaval. To name just a few of the many major plot points in The Life Of Georgia Flipo, they came out as non-binary in June of 2021, moved to the States that September, and got married (to soap heartthrob Chrishell Stause) in May of this year.
“When I made About Us,” they explain, “I felt like a kid. I was very much learning how to navigate the world and everything around me – and since then, I feel like I've matured so much. And I've matured in my artistry, and in my vocals and my songwriting and musicianship – even my stage presence. But you know, that’s just the passage of time; I think all of us grow and elevate in whatever field we're in. I just feel like a more matured version of myself now.”
As its title may gently imply, DRUMMER shows love to one particular instrument above all the others.
Drummers are often the most underrated members of any band: the beat is the single most crucial part of any pop or rock song, yet the drummer always sits at the back of the stage, rarely even lit or given their flowers in interviews. And when they started “making it” on the heels of About Us, Flipo saw firsthand how expendable the industry considers the role of the drummer. “I found myself getting thrown into studios with producers who didn’t even have drum kits on hand,” they say.
“Some of them didn’t have any instruments... But you know, that’s that's how a lot of pop music is made today. I have nothing against that – a lot of the biggest hits of today are made that way, very much on the laptop, and it works perfectly fine – but I couldn’t do that for myself. I just love playing instruments, man! I love playing drums and guitar and piano, and a bunch of other instruments as well. So making this new record, it was definitely my main goal to have as many real instruments on there as possible. I wanted to get my hands dirty and just play, you know? So there's no loops. I played about 80 percent of the instruments – everything was real, live and recorded, and the majority of the album was recorded at my house in LA.”
Taking things one step further, Flipo even built most of the songs on the new LP from the drums up. They had “a whole list of grooves” they wanted to incorporate into DRUMMER, and would often start with one of those, then write the guitars, synth parts and lyrics around it. “I wanted to make the drum-pop album of my dreams,” they boast, “and that’s exactly what I did.”
Like they said, Flipo simply couldn’t make a standard modern pop album. Though pop music surges through their veins, they’re hardwired to embrace the analogue; DAWs and all their methodical minutiae, graph-esque tonal structures and code-based filters, are necessary for production – but they’re never Flipo’s go-to. “The music on DRUMMER is so me,” they say. “It was me writing all the parts and playing all the instruments – and that’s how I've always gone about my life, you know? That's just how I do things. It just feels way more authentic to me when I’m able to play everything myself – and that's the kind of music that I want to make.”
And of course, it all comes back to the kit at the core of the album, as Flipo proudly declares, “The drums are my everything. I started playing when I was nine years old, and I was a drummer way before I was a singer – I only started singing in front of people around the time I turned 20 [just shy of ten years ago]. I am always, always going to love the drums. It’s like John Mayer, right? You wouldn’t expect him to put an album out with no guitars on it. But I was getting put in rooms that didn't even have drum kits in them, and I was like, ‘What!? That’s my instrument! That’s my number one!’ So going into this record, I wanted to make a pop album that was very much focused on the drums.”
Abundant drum fills and solos aside, there’s a wealth of character and colour to unearth across DRUMMER. Flipo was particularly excited to up the ante with their guitar playing, too: “My last album wasn’t very guitar-heavy, but I think every song on DRUMMER has guitars on it,” they (correctly) note. “I've definitely improved my chops on the guitar, which I was keen to show off. But I think my musical chops all around have grown. I wanted to make sure there I wasn’t relying on any loops in the studio – even all the shaker parts and all the tambourine parts, we played those live. There’s glockenspiel that I played, there’s harmonicas, there’s congas... There’s so many different instruments on this record, and I wanted everything on there to come from my own being.”
Just a few days after they release it, Flipo will take DRUMMER out for a 13-show national tour. Not only will it be their biggest-ever run of shows on home soil – playing such legendary venues as the Tivoli in Meanjin/Brisbane, the Forum in Naarm/Melbourne and the Enmore in Sydney – but they’ve already sold out more than half of the dates. Flipo says they “absolutely can’t wait” to hit the road, especially since they haven’t done a headline tour in Australia since 2019. They already know it’ll rank among their best tours to date, too, as they cheerfully wax lyrical about how all the places they’re set to hit are “some of my dream venues”.
They continue: “I got to scope the Enmore Theatre out yesterday, and I just teared up and started crying because I couldn't believe that I'm going to be playing there. You know, I played in so many bands before G flip took off – I slept on people's couches and drove myself from Melbourne to Adelaide, then Melbourne to Sydney to play shows, and I never made any money from it. I think for any musician in Australia, their dream is to play in these prestigious venues like the Forum and the Enmore. And it really hit me yesterday, walking through the Enmore, that like, I'm actually going to be playing there... That is fucking mental.”
Flipo circles back to their undying love for their fandom, saying they’re “just so grateful for the people that have supported me and bought tickets to all the shows I’ve ever played”, because “they’re the only reason I get to do this tour now”. And those that have managed to score tickets will be in for a treat – Flipo and their band have “spent the whole last month building this show to make it our best show ever”, working off an itemised list of their wildest hopes and dreams for the set and its production. “We really want to blow the audience away,” they declare.
DRUMMER lends itself to the live experience, with reams of explosive drum and guitar solos, epic crescendos and choruses primed for deafening singalongs. That’s exactly the point, Flipo says, noting that they wrote most of the songs on the album “with the live show in mind”. It all stems from their former life as a wedding drummer, when Flipo would spend their weekends “just playing through 100 hit songs”. They explain: “It always stuck to me, because all of those songs were hits, but some of them were just way more fun to play than all the others. So when I was writing a lot of these songs on the record, I wanted to make sure it would be fun to play them live.”
Of all the songs on DRUMMER that Flipo can’t wait to showcase, Rough charts especially high. It’s perhaps the song that best encapsulates the record, with the biggest and most insane drum fills they’ve ever written. It was written with their bandmates in mind, they say, because all three of them also play the drums: “I wanted a song that was so drum-heavy that when we're playing it live, we can all be on the drums together, just smashing toms all over the stage. So I strategically built Rough like that.”
With enormous success on both the charts and the touring circuit, Flipo has undoubtedly become the biggest non-binary pop artist in Australian music history. The significance isn’t lost on them either, noting that when they came out a little over two years ago, they knew they’d be taking on “a bit of a spokesperson's role” for the non-binary community. They explain: “I knew that being someone who was already in the spotlight, and someone that people looked up to, I was going to be asked in interviews about what it meant to be non-binary, and people were going to look to me for answers on anything happening in the non-binary community.”
But Flipo never felt an ounce of pressure. “I’ve always been game for this,” they say, flashing back to their high school career as a class leader with a knack for public speaking – then, in the years leading up to their mainstream breakthrough, a children’s music teacher. “I just love educating – I have a natural passion for it,” they add. “So I felt really comfortable taking on that role [as a non-binary ‘spokesperson’] and I can try to educate people on being non-binary as best as I can.”
Ultimately, Flip says, it’s their fellow enbies – and the broader queer and trans community – that’s galvanised them as a modern-day queer icon. “I’m so proud to be a part of this community,” they gush. “It’s been really amazing to meet so many gender non-conforming, genderfluid, non-binary and trans people over this journey, and getting to connect with them and hear their stories. Especially with these meet-and-greets, I'm getting to have these really in-depth chats with people who have had similar upbringings and feelings and thoughts. So as much as I’ve been able to inspire others, this has been really inspiring to me, and it's helped me feel confident in myself as a proud non-binary person.”
Flipo’s own role in propping up the Australian non-binary community – especially insofar as it pertains to mainstream representation – cannot be overstated. In addition to repping their people on TV and in radio, national advertising campaigns and beyond, they’re devoted to giving fellow non-binary artists a platform on a more grassroots level. Last July, for example, their only headline show on Australian soil was Enby At The Espy, a hometown gig at Melbourne’s Esplanade Hotel where they organised an all-enby lineup through social media. It coincided with the release of their queer anthem Waste Of Space, the film clip for which featured a full cast and crew of trans and non-binary people.
Reflecting on the past two years, Flipo says, “It's been really beautiful. I feel like since I came out, just being authentically me, it’s started a really cute community. And it's great now to be on the road and see that community with my own two eyes, face to face... Like, I get a lot of beautiful messages online, but it's been really eye-opening and beautiful to meet all the people I talk to in my DMs on Instagram, seeing them in the flesh and giving them a cuddle and saying ‘thank you’ for the support. Because the LGBTQIA+ community is such a beautiful, loving, understanding and caring community, and I feel really lucky to be a part of it.”
DRUMMER is out tomorrow via Future Classic.
Thursday August 17 – Meanjin/Brisbane, The Tivoli* (SOLD OUT)
Friday August 18 – Meanjin/Brisbane, The Tivoli* (SOLD OUT)
Saturday August 19 – Gimuy/Cairns, Tanks Art Centre* (SOLD OUT)
Sunday August 20 – Gimuy/Cairns, Tanks Art Centre*
Friday August 25 – Kaurna/Adelaide, Hindley Street Music Hall**
Saturday August 26 – Boorloo/Perth, Astor Theatre* (SOLD OUT)
Tuesday August 29 – Naarm/Melbourne, The Forum**
Thursday August 31 – Wadawurrung/Torquay, Torquay Hotel** (SOLD OUT)
Saturday September 2 – Naarm/Melbourne, The Forum** (SOLD OUT)
Sunday September 3 – Naarm/Melbourne, The Forum**
Thursday September 7 – Eora/Sydney, Enmore Theatre***
Friday September 8 – Eora/Sydney, Enmore Theatre*** (SOLD OUT)
Saturday September 9 – Awakabal/Newcastle, Bar On The Hill***
* supported by Hope D
** supported by Jacoténe
*** supported by Charley