For a lot of London club music fans, there was perhaps no sadder news than in February of 2015 when, through social media posts of passersby, it was revealed the Black Market Records (later rebranded as BM Soho) had shut down over a leasing dispute. In our modern day and age, perhaps the closing of a record shop isn’t too tragic, but for one that opened in 1988 and had proven to be the central hub for electronically-minded DJs, tastemakers, and fans, it was a heavy loss.
One of the people no doubt effected by its closure was George Fitzgerald, who had gone from working at the shop in the mid-2000s to later having his albums carried there. Although he was heavily involved in the club scene, he eventually left his day job to pursue music full time: working sets, crafting remixes, releasing singles, and even setting up his own label. After grinding hard at creating a sound that marries the electronic thump of Jon Hopkins’ finest work to the indie-accessibility of acts like Caribou, Fitzgerald’s debut album Fading Love finally arrived in 2015 on a Domino Records imprint, and critics were impressed.
Now, Fitzgerald is fresh off the release of his sophomore full-length, All That Must Be, an album that improves upon its predecessor in every conceivable way. It’s propulsive but blissfully sedate, ambient but danceable, quiet yet energized. Featuring collaborations with the likes of Bonobo and Tracey Thorne, Fitzgerald celebrates the release of his latest opus by sitting down with PopMatters’ 20 Questions, revealing a simpatico with Josef K, an appreciation for OutKast, and how his career all started with a cracked copy of Ableton …
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1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
George Harrison: Living in the Material World. Something about his relationship with his second wife was very moving.
2. The fictional character most like you?
Josef K in Kafka’s The Trial. Like everyone else I have no real idea what is going on and then I’m going to die.
3. The greatest album, ever?
OutKast’s Aquemini. Popular, political, and avant-garde all at the same time.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Old Star Wars and The Next Generation. The rest is rubbish.
5. Your ideal brain food?
A house next to the sea with no internet and no phone signal.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
I’m proud of the fact that, when it comes to music, I am an autodidact. It wasn’t all handed to me.
7. You want to be remembered for …?
I’m not very interested in being remembered as a person beyond my family and friends, and even that fades away after a generation or so. But I’d like to know during my life, or at its end, that my work has contributed to the greater balance of human happiness.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Goethe, Shakespeare, and Debussy.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
Woyzeck by Georg Büchner.
10. Your hidden talents . . .?
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
My friend telling me to stop being miserable as a law student and take the risk of making music for a living. Obviously that was fairly crucial in getting me to where I am now. The idea seemed insane to me before that conversation.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
My first cracked copy of Ableton, which a friend gave to me (I’ve since bought a copy!). It was the beginning of my journey as a producer and, in retrospect, utterly life-changing.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .?
Does anyone wear Armani these days who isn’t a complete scumbag? I’ll take anything over that.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
I’d like to be thrown out of the Ritz with Johnny Cash and then hit a dive bar.
15. Time travel: where, when and why?
Sometime during the Belle Epoque in Paris so I could drink absinthe with Rimbaud and Verlaine.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
I don’t do relaxed vacations or Prozac so it’ll have to be hit man.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?
Tea. I’m English.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
London in early Summertime. Somewhere in Greenwich park.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
Stop Brexit please Theresa, that would be lovely. Thank you.
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
Always, always, always new music. I write for my own sanity as much as anything else.