'Lover', the debut LP from producer/songwriter/ singer George Maple is the soundtrack to a fierce yet fractured existence. Maple is the storyteller swaying in and out of control, triumphantly dancing through the mess and chaos of life's sordid underbelly. The album pays homage to the muddled beauty and vulnerability of human intimacy in fractured times.
"A series of intimate events," Maple says. "That's the essence of this album... I lived and breathed every experience on this record." It's a journey that's seen George Maple play many roles, from femme fatale to disco diva to fierce heroine, and endure many scars.
The record was written across 2 years and in various places all over the world, on the run between London, New York and LA; or as Maple says, "I would just go wherever the writing was, wherever the touring was, I followed the music."
With a childhood spent in Australia seeped in musical influences (the likes of Fleetwood Mac, George Michael, Janet Jackson to name just three) and singing soul and jazz from an early age in pubs and bars in her hometown, it may come as a surprise that Maple spent the first year of her career remaining faceless, intent on retaining a connection between her audience and the music, rather than with any visual distractions. "I was far more timid when this whole journey began, recovering from wounds born from of a series of wonderful / difficult relationships and complicated love stories. At the time I was afraid of the limelight."
"I was numb for a few years, afraid of experiencing life, I remained caged in unrequited love, pain, insecurity and self doubt, anything that was a fearful excuse not to let go and become a human being again. In hindsight It taught me a lot about fear and vulnerability."
As time went on, Maple began to discover the visual realm as an extension of her creative expression, admitting that she has always written songs with a cinematic imagination, seeing images and scenes, but was afraid to play the central role.
As her confidence returned she began exploring new concepts and having new experiences. Venturing into the 'real world' of sex, money, power, greed, love, heartbreak, loss and victory, and consciously absorbing every dirty detail. She began taking her experiences and turning them into sonic and visual theatre.
"I opened up, and let go. I became more conscious about my visual decisions and began using my art as a way of expressing my real world, anything that was wrestling in my mind body and spirit.
Enter George Maple as leading lady.
This is Maple's world. She is the CEO, the leader, the club queen. There's no team of men in grey suits in boardrooms pulling strings; what you see and hear is her own uncompromising vision.
Empowerment is a thread that doesn't just run through Maple's personal life; it is the driving force behind her professional self and poured into the record. Maple is credited as the sole or executive producer on all tracks across "Lover." She admits she was frustrated at trying to articulate her vision to the producers she was collaborating with, and tired of dealing with difficult egos undervaluing her contribution in the business sphere.
Maple realised that it was essential to push herself out of her own comfort zone, to fine tune her production skills in order to grow and take control - or as she puts it, "I never meant to be a producer, it happened out of necessity, I realised I need to write and produce and do everything I can on a track and then no one can fuck with it."
"Lover" is the intersection of Maple's fantasy and reality, presenting a record that amplifies her own observations and experiences of intimacy across the last four years.
The album can in part be charted by a series of standout singles which help to visually and sonically map out the story of the record. Maple has reveled in libertine abandon, celebrating freedom and loss of inhibitions and channeling the spirit of Donna Summer as club queen supreme in "Kryptonite". She co- starred alongside male supermodel Jordan Barrett in the video for "Lover," struggled in chains in spectacular slow motion with What So Not and Rome Fortune in "Buried" and dominated male villains, driving black 80s corvettes in the Goldlink featuring "Sticks and Horses." The album is designed to be to absorbed as a whole though, ruminating on empowerment, vulnerability and pain, via themes of freedom, liberation and sexual expression. Tune into George Maple's frequency and you'll find her washing over you with subtle sensuality ("Pain", "Hold Me By The Waist") before switching to fully euphoric pulsating pop ("Hero"). The album's many interludes propel the storytelling even further, providing a glimpse into the exploits and characters Maple crossed paths with along the way and dive deeper into her obsession with the beauty of chaos, mess, the grit, the ugly, and the primal.
"Lover" follows an acclaimed EP, Vacant Space released via Australian label Future Classic in 2014, 2015's "Where You End And I Begin" and "Gemini", her masterful collaboration with What So Not. Most recently she has worked with DJ Snake on 2016's "Talk", a re-crafted version of her original track "Talk Talk". Maple has also written for other artists and her writing and production credits include Snakehips, Flume and Tkay Maidza.
"There's this duality to intimacy, it's only place that we feel truly vulnerable and the only place we feel truly connected to another person and completely safe but we also feel so exposed. It's terrifying, addictive, and beautiful all at once. It's a really delicate line. That's why the album is called "Lover"."