Style Liaisons: In Conversation With Georgia Lines

The Tauranga-based singer on the dress hanging on her wall as art, and when you know a song is finished

Singer Georgia Lines. Photo / Supplied

Georgia Lines' music is something like sorrow wrapped in sweetness. It's pop that feels intimate and humble, the kind of butter-soft synths you'd listen to while lovelorn at home. Sometimes the beats are crisp, sometimes they're layered. The Tauranga-based is always transporting.

"I see music as a universal language," she says, recalling her early years creating shows and circuses in the lounge for her parents and their friends.

"Regardless of who you are, or where you are from, everyone understands music. It can speak to each of us, remind us of our first love or bring a sense of nostalgia, it can bring people together and bring so much joy. It can bring a lightness, an ease or a sense of relief that you’re not alone in your current circumstances."

Describe your personal style.

To be honest, my style feels like a bit of an extension of my personality. My wardrobe is fun. It’s full of colour, prints, vintage pieces, frills, sneakers, sparkly socks, pink shoes and things that make me excited. I love matching my shoes and lipstick, wearing bright colours, nothing too pretty and, for the most part, there always has to have an element of dressing it down. But then equally I love wearing jeans and a tee (always with lippy). I used to have people tell me, “I don’t know how anyone could pull that off, but somehow you do”. Still to this day I’m unsure if that is a dig at my style or a genuine compliment.

Who are your favourite designers, and why?

Maggie Marilyn is one of my favourites. I’ve been such a big fan of everything she does for such a long time. She creates garments that have such beautiful silhouettes and of, course, the colours and fabrics are so fun. I actually wore one of her dresses as my wedding dress, which was the first MM piece I ever brought.

Wynn Hamlyn is another favourite of mine and I’ve actually worn many of his garments for photoshoots and videos I’ve done in the past. He has this incredible way of capturing and balancing a beautiful elegance, which I am drawn to.

Olivia Cashmore is my latest obsession. She actually used to design for MM and has recently started her own brand. I just think everything she does is clever. Her branding, her ethos, approach. Everything is considered and I love that she is all about creating pieces that don’t just last but get better with age.

Photo / Supplied

How has your relationship to fashion changed since your teenage years?

When I was younger I would spend so much of my time rummaging through sale racks and spending so much of my time op-shopping, which I still love. I developed this love for vintage pieces that I knew no one else would have, but also developed a style based on what I loved, and not necessarily what was considered on-trend.

As I moved out of my teenage years I became more confident with my style and felt less nervous about feeling like I was breaking some kind of fashion rule with my outfit choices.

Not going to lie, there were definitely some questionable outfit combos that Mum let me out of the house with, but I love that there was room for me to explore this love for fashion that I had. In terms of how it’s changed, it looks very much the same apart from I feel a greater desire to buy pieces that I deeply love, and pay slightly more for, instead of rummaging through a sale rack and buying pieces that I don’t need, on garments that don’t last very long anyway.

Has there been one particular look that you’ve worn on while performing that has really been it for you, a look that felt the most ‘you’?

This is a hard one, but I actually have one show in particular that comes to mind where I did an outfit change. I was planning on wearing this slightly oversized grey suit that we found on Trade Me for a photoshoot we did a few months earlier, with white sneakers, blue eyeshadow and slicked-back hair, and earlier that day I had decided that I was going to do an outfit change mid-set.

I had found this high-neck, floor-length, beaded dress at Zara earlier that afternoon with this long white slip underneath, which I decided wasn’t quite my vibe. So while I was getting my hair and makeup done I cut the slip just above the knees so that it felt a little more like me. Anyway, I ended up changing mid-set into the dress with my favourite Nikes.

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I think it felt like the look that was the most me because I had the wardrobe change. It feels so extravagant to do that at a show for 100 people, but I loved that I did it. I went from wearing this oversized suit with quite a casual, masculine feel and changed into this beaded dress with sneakers and blue eyeshadow. I felt like it captured me perfectly, wearing both.

What’s one of the most cherished things in your wardrobe?

I have this incredible Saks Fifth Avenue vintage dress that my mum brought for me for my 21st birthday. It’s long-sleeve, high-neck and floor-length, and an orangey-red colour with yellow, pink, blue, green and white floral patterns with yellow horses from the waist down. It is so beautiful. Currently, it’s hanging on my wall as a piece of art because every time I wear it, the fabric rips slightly underneath my arms. Definitely not as petite as I was at 21.

What songs are a must-listen-to when you are getting ready to go out?

Anything from Emily King or Yebba. Also, anything from the 90s is a real vibe when you are getting ready to go out.

What, or who, shaped your idea of the kind of singer you wanted to be?

Growing up in Aotearoa, there were so many incredible wahine toa that were paving the way musically with their own sound and vision, that carried such diversity sonically.

As a young girl, watching and observing artists like Kimbra and Brooke Fraser really fueled this desire to create with intention and vision, and almost gave me this confidence as a young teenager that I could pursue a career in this industry with my own vision, ideas, creativity and voice.

I think if I hadn’t seen other strong females paving the way and not just copying other artists because “it worked for them”, I may not have ended up having the confidence to pursue this as a long-term career.

Where, or when, feels the most conducive to writing songs for you?

I find that I write best when I am rested and have been filling myself up with things that inspire me before I have to write. If I’m reading, listening to podcasts, looking at art or learning about some fascinating history or people, or simply just being creative outside of music, I find I have so much more to draw from when I turn up to write.

I’ve had to learn to not overthink things too much, and to create areas of discipline in my life to write and not just exclusively wait for the moments that I feel super-inspired and use the excuse of writer's block.

Do you have a practice, or something regular that you do, for inspiration?

I haven’t actually done it in a while, but I used to go on these little quests each week where the intention was to just do something that felt inspiring to me. Sometimes it was as simple as going for a walk or writing a poem at the rose gardens, other times it was sitting at an art gallery and absorbing an installation or people watching. It was such a great practice and rhythm to have because it was filling the tank creatively with things outside of music, which I think adds such depth to what I’m writing.

Photo / Supplied

How do you know when a song is finished?

Sometimes a song is never finished. You can always keep editing, keep changing and adding and even when you release a song you’re often thinking, I should have done this or that.

But to be honest, it’s finished when I feel excited or proud of what I’ve done. If I’m not feeling excited, I often start again or re-work things musically to see if it has legs with another idea. There are times when a song comes together so easily and is finished way earlier than others, and then there are other songs you work on for months or sometimes even years before you feel like it’s where it needs to be.

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For me, I use music to write and express my perspective, my stories, my journey with the intention of being honest with what I write, in the hope that someone else listening might relate or feel something deeply.

Do you think a level of spectacle is important as an artist?

For me it 100 per cent is. Every artist will place their value/emphasis on different things and, for me, fashion has always been something I get so excited by, and feels like a natural extension of who I am. As an artist, I think having intentionality behind what you do visually is so important and is something I have always cared deeply about.

Is your approach to makeup and beauty similar to your approach to what you like to wear? Do you enjoy makeup?

I love makeup! Growing up I was scared of it and never really wanted to use it, but as I got older I developed this love for lipstick, which then led me onto being curious about makeup.

When I am on the road and doing my own hair and makeup, it’s pretty simple and natural and often with bright lipstick, because my skill seems to let me down no matter how many YouTube tutorials I watch. But, naturally, when I’m working with a hair and makeup artist there is so much more intention and planning that goes into the look, which is where I get so excited.

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