Georgia Fair


Recently in Perth supporting Jae Laffer, Georgia Fair have just released their second album, Trapped Flame. ALEX GRIFFIN reports.

Georgia Fair look a bit tired, and they’ve got every right to be. 

In the middle of a national tour just after they’ve released their second album, Trapped Flame, the moody folk duo are coming down from supporting Panics frontman Jae Laffer at a packed house in Fremantle. Guitarist Ben Riley is trying to recover by ordering a fruit platter off-menu while singer Jordan Wilson handles most of the talking.

Interviewing them is like nudging your way into hanging out with two best friends; something that becomes quickly obvious in the way they banter about everything from learning about WA pollie Troy Buswell’s chair-sniffing to the non-musical perks of moving to Melbourne (“Cheap beer,” offers Wilson. “Cheap girls” is Riley’s answer).

Jokes aside, Georgia Fair are becoming a bigger fish in the Australian pond, having supported increasingly bigger names to bigger crowds as they’ve progressed. Yet, even though they signed up to megalabel Sony early on in the careers, they haven’t felt pressure to make a zillion dollars overnight, as Wilson explains.

“When we first started out, we thought signing to a label was what you do, and after that you’re fine. But it’s been hard work. We’re doing what all young bands should do, working your way up from the bottom. We have pressure on ourselves to work bigger rooms as we go, but other than that, it’s just writing music.”

Still, the last few years have been a steep learning curve. “We’ve learnt a lot about business,” explains Riley. Our musical drive hasn’t changed, it’s constantly evolving naturally, but we’ve learnt a lot about people. We’re very much into taking control of our creative world after some of the experiences we’ve had.”

Part of that was deciding on a producer for Trapped Flame. The boys eventually plumped for renowned American producer Ted Hutt (Gaslight Anthem, Old Crow Medicine Show) to translate the energy and propulsion of Georgia Fair live on to record, and Riley reckons it worked pretty nicely.

“For us, it was all about how the drums sounded, how the guitars felt; how real it was. It’s about energy. The classic records were all live. A lot of the decision was heading over and listening to his favorite records to see what he thought worked, and that convinced us.”

Despite any outside challenges, at the heart of the band is the friendship between Wilson and Riley. As Wilson puts it, “every now and then you’ve got to come back to each other and be like, ‘still want to do this?’ It’s like every relationship. Sometimes we haven’t been able to play gigs, or we’ve been waiting around to put album out, and that’s been testing. But we’re gonna fight the good fight.”

It’s lazy to lump Georgia Fair in with new-folk borecore like Mumford & Sons who are happy using the names of Dylan and Drake in vain, because there’s a depth of dreaminess to Trapped Flame that comes from a far less cynical place.

“The more you play the music you want to play, the more people tend to put you in a box, which is fair enough, but you do what you do because you like doing it,” says Wilson. “It’s going to be way less authentic to try and do something else. Even though we’re open to experimenting, we’re not trying to invent new things musically. I try to invent imaginary worlds far, far away from here when I write songs. With an acoustic guitar you can do that anywhere you go, and there’s a certain resonance to that. I’m not thinking about the instrument when I’m playing it.”