step back in time with dreamy cosmic duo GL
Wanna have fun? These guys have what you're looking for.
Photography Ben Frazer
GL pull off the perfect balance between dreamy, raw and lush in the form of addictive early synth pop disco beats. The duo, made up of friends Ella Thompson and Graeme Pogson, played in a variety of musical projects together for years before finally bringing their love of everything 80s together under the guise of GL. Their gritty tracks honestly make you feel like you have stepped back in time to a world of smoky strobes and cassettes. i-D talks to the pair about a future album, hexagons and the entertaining wrongness of the 80s.
So you guys are doing a tour with Chet Faker at the moment. How's that going?
Ella: It's good! It's quite a young crowd, who are very enthusiastic for Chet Faker. They scream really loudly when you say his name.
Graeme: I asked who wants to be Chet Faker's Valentine when we played on Valentines days, and received a deafening roar.
Do you think it's the beard?
Graeme: Yeah. He's also a great performer, just the whole way he carries himself. He's just cool in general, beard or no beard.
You've been playing a variety of shows. Do you guys prefer playing your own gigs or festivals?
Ella: I think club shows, people are there to have a good time. Festivals are fun too, if you're in a good time slot.
How was playing at Falls Festival?
Ella: Yeah good, but sometimes it's the gigs that you don't expect that are the better ones. Like there are the ones that are supposedly the high-profile gigs but then you can have such a good time at the small ones. Camp Nong was so fun. I think that was one of our favourites. Everyone was just there to have a good time and it didn't feel like you had to try.
Where did you two meet and how did you start playing together?
Ella: We both grew up around the same area; Eltham, Warrandyte way, and I think my friend's Dad was the landscaper at your parent's house. And you were starting a band, I would have been about 16 or 17.
Graeme: We had mutual friends so we played in bands together about eight years ago.
What was your style of music then?
Graeme: It was kind of funk, but more Memphis-y, like Stax, Motown sort of music. We also played a lot of RnB stuff, like 2000 modern, like Amerie (laughs).
Ella: Then we played in the Bamboos together from 2011.
You have an amazing voice, Ella. What does it feel like when you sing?
Ella: Well I love singing. It's one of those things that you don't really have a memory of when you're doing it. It's kind of like a black zone, like from when you go on stage to when you come off, you don't really know what's happened. It's probably one of the only times that I have that sort of black zone, like sleeping.
You have a residency at Hugs & Kisses coming up in March.
Ella: It's a great venue for dance music and small bands or electronic acts, it's a really cool spot.
Graeme: It's a really good place to watch stuff as well. It's got lots of nooks and it's not super huge. Shebeen was good for that as well, we did our launch there. There are just so many good venues.
Ella: Howler's great. We played there with Big Freedia.
Oh yeah! How was that?
Ella: She's cool! I thought that we weren't going to be hardcore enough for the audience but they were really nice and got into it straight away.
You're clearly inspired by the 80s era, what draws you to it in particular?
Ella: Well it was sort of the start of electronic music, where the synthesisers and drum machines started to be used. I mean Graeme loves the funk side of it, which I also love, but there's also the New Wave Post-Punk kind of thing that I like about it. It's when things were still raw.
Graeme: Yeah because they were all using pretty much the same stuff but there were so many different ways to use it, so it could sound really raw and home-made. I can never get enough of it. I've been listening to 80s stuff for many, many years now and there's just so much of it, you just can't get to the bottom of it. It's got this incredible quality to it because music was made really differently back then, there were a lot more people involved and a lot more money. The singers were incredible as well and they would sing in groups, kind of like boy bands in a way.
What do you like about that era visually?
Ella: Things changed so quickly from the organic 70s to the 80s which was this really odd robotic futuristic kind of new scene.
Graeme: Yeah, photos also changed on the album covers from that A-filter sepia. Everything looked natural, then all of a sudden it was a good idea to stand in front of some grey wall in terrible shiny clothes with someone seemingly just taking a photo of you, as though they just happened to be there. It's endlessly entertaining.
What else do you guys have coming up?
Ella: We're recording a new album at the moment, we started mixing new songs yesterday with Andrei Eremin and we're looking to release it in the second half of the year. We just released a cassette of our EP with an extra couple of songs on it that we're only just releasing now.
I'm assuming you're called GL because your names are Graeme and Ella…
Graeme: Yes. We were called something else for quite awhile though.
What were you called?
Graeme: Yeah we were called Pongo, but then we couldn't use that and then it was just months of 'what about this?' every day, but they were all taken! It would be like making up an email address or something, they're always taken! Even if you do find one, you have to put a 900 or something next to it. There are just so many bands and solo projects out there, I don't know how people come up with these amazing band names!
Text Erin McConchie
Photography Ben Frazer