Read Part 2 of this interview
George Pringle makes a lot of people very angry. Out there on message boards are faceless entities with strange pseudonyms who are, in their apparently genuine rage, prone to asking questions that smack of exasperation.
Questions such as: Who likes her? Who does she think she is? What is she doing? And then someone always does the thing that immediately rams a rusty nail through the knees of sensible discussion: they bring Nathan Barley into it.
She’s young, she’s female and, yes, she went to boarding school. As her 10-minute epic narco-disco number Bonjour Tristesse testifies, she speaks French. But are these crimes to inspire vitriol and bile?
We first saw George Pringle back in 2007, when an otherwise nondescript winter evening at the Social was enlivened by a girl performing spoken-word pieces over handmade minimalist beats wrung from GarageBand. Her lyrics touched on everything from Fellini to Street Fighter 2, delivered in an accent which called for French synonyms for haughty. This London-born fine art graduate’s very modern brand of public confessional/disco was hugely interesting.
Nearly two years on and her self-released debut solo album Salon des Refusés is finally out, and its now 24-year-old creator proves no less interesting in person. She turns up looking flustered and apologising profusely for being late, which she is, by all of 90 seconds. Surely this demure figure can’t be the cause of such virtual consternation?
“I’m not a particularly offensive person,” she answers. “I thought it was quite funny that, just by making music in a different way and not pretending to be something that I’m not, it would provoke. People get so angry they have to say something, but, you know, no press is bad press.”
So she doesn’t mind the criticism? “I think there’s this real irony in the fact I’ve been billed as this totally bourgeois posh person, and I’m working in a shop not making any money. I’m actually quite socialist in the way I’m doing (my music) and all these people seem to think I have a castle.” She pauses. “I do have a castle, but, you know…”
One of the key problems she has been stricken with is one of labeling. She’s being judged, but it’s not clear which box she should be put in. She attended a boarding school, so she gets labeled as ‘posh’. She calls herself a ‘diseuse’, which translates as ‘a female entertainer who performs monologues’. Not songs. Does she even consider herself a musician?
“I dunno,” she says, frankly. “I want it to be so much more. I want it to be set with strong images and ideas. Although I’m not someone who dresses up a lot – in fact I tend to now dress down – because I want the music to be the colour. I think it’s so boring when people are wearing stupid space-suit shit. It’s so annoying. The thing is (now) everyone has to have a shtick, everyone has to have this image, and I think it distracts. The raw material should pass those images.”
So artists shouldn’t bother with a style to work their music? “I like the fact that people have a style,” she says, “but it just seems like everyone fills a different niche, and I think that’s boring. You can have all the niches, you can do what you want. People accused me of that, actually, but now lots of more extroverted people have come out of the woodwork and I don’t look so bad!”
But there are some niches, at least as far as attire is concerned, that she will not take on. “What annoys is the so fucking trendy stuff, it’s the Urban Outfitters stuff – plaid shirts, plimsoles… If I see another band like that…” She grimaces. “I’m sick of bad taste. I’m having a good taste revival! I want to wear stylish things and make stylish music. I’m sick of fucking ’80s rehash. So sick of it.”
She’s warming to her theme. “That’s the problem with the ‘indie scene’, that if you are doing something that requires some thought, to try and put it across to people who aren’t really in to anything… I’m not totally damning it, but I think there is that element of people just not being arsed and wanting to dress cool.”
Read Part 2 of this interview