For anyone that’s tracked the evolution of George FitzGerald, the perceived musical departure of All That Must Be should come as little surprise. Despite initially specialising in sweat-flecked stompers that packed dancefloors around the world, there was always a sense that he was being stifled, and 2015’s debut Fading Love dialled down the trademark claustrophobia and embraced a warmer, more expansive sound that appears perfected on most recent single ‘Burns’. It’s a direction, FitzGerald admits, he had envisaged from the beginning.
“If I’m honest, I feel like I’m doing the things now that I’ve always wanted to do. It was almost like I was cutting my teeth with the club stuff and finding a sound and experimenting with certain things. And it was a useful time. There’s a lot to learn as a producer and I feel like you need to build up to making your first record, especially when you’re doing almost all of it yourself.”
“Some people have a fixed idea about what music should be and it’s actually quite restrictive and it’s rewarding to get past that…”
“It’s just a natural reflection of where my life is at. I mean, I still DJ in clubs but my existence is slightly different to what it was five, six, seven, eight years ago when I first started out,” he confirms, referring to his abrupt relocation from Berlin to London and newfound fatherhood. “I was in clubs all the time, for enjoyment as well as when I was playing, and my life is a little bit different to that now. It’s a natural thing for the music to have one foot in the club and one out.”
Without his youthful obsession with club culture, however, you suspect that the lush, hypnotic expanses of ‘Two Moons Under’ would be reigned in, or ‘Siren Calls” menacing strut might be sacrificed for a conveyor belt of monotonous crescendos. Perhaps All That Must Be wouldn’t exist at all. Enhanced by his passion for combining past loves with fresh sounds, FitzGerald’s mastery of the slow-burning reveal is a thrill for every listener. “It’s cool to get a certain amount of inspiration from your scene but, if you just listen to your immediate peers, you end up bored and also a bit uninspired. I think it was for my own sanity, but it also had a really positive effect on my music, just to listen to what you listen to, whether it’s classical or country or jazz or ambient. And then you come back to getting ready for a DJ set and you’re really energised, rather than just deadened. Otherwise you’re just listening to kick drums all day, and that would drive anyone insane.”
Even if the new album represents a continuation of the sound FitzGerald has regularly been striving for, he’s aware that a minority of fans might not be willing to join him on his forays beyond the restrictive blueprint that house and techno often adheres to. “Intolerant is the best word,” he tells me. “Some people have a fixed idea about what music should be and it’s actually quite restrictive and it’s rewarding to get past that as an artist and be like, ‘fuck it, I’m just going to do what I want to do to the maximum extent possible’. That’s not to say I get it right all the time, but I think you’re much better off pushing the boundaries of what you try to do. Imagine the reality of going into the studio and doing the same thing over and over again. That just fucking sucks, to be honest.”
While he’s keen to point out that the vast majority of listeners have been been “unbelievably cool and supportive”, he remains mystified by the narrow- mindedness he’s encountered from some quarters. “I’ve had people question my credibility for wanting to write songs, which I find ridiculous. If you think about it, it’s absolutely crazy. As if by writing this kind of music I’m trying to be Ed Sheeran or Justin Bieber. If anything, my ethos as a producer has become more DIY, more independent, more self-reliant by doing this kind of thing. When you make changes, you gain some people and you lose some people and I’m can’t say I’m very sad to let those fans go. It’s like yeah, well, fuck you guys.” It’s arguably this resilience that has resulted in All That Must Be, a deftly rewritten soundtrack to bridge the divide between the club dwellers and the masses, and it only feels possible because George FitzGerald is no longer waiting for approval.
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