Made to sing: Georgia Lines
Five years ago, Georgia Lines was just tipping the music scales in Aotearoa. Fast-forward, and the Kiwi singer-songwriter is signed with the same agent that represents Coldplay. Metropol Deputy Editor Nina Tucker finds out how she’s navigated a skyrocketing career.
As the age-old cliché goes, it didn’t happen overnight. Larry Webman, from U.S agency Wasserman Music, who also works with the likes of Sara Bareilles and MGMT, reached out to Georgia, something she never saw coming. “As much as you want, you can never plan those things. As much as you want to get the attention of people that are amazing like that, you never know who’s in the room.”
Georgia adds it was a “huge moment,” for her team, and moments like these often find her sitting and embracing such blessings. “There has to be an element of being present in what you’re doing and trying to just absorb it. I’m living the dream of what I always wanted to do – play music, release music, and do it for my job.”
Despite gracing stages and singing worldwide, Georgia still adores performing at home in New Zealand. Headlining Christchurch’s Christmas in the Park late last year, she recalls an incredibly engaged Christchurch crowd, describing the event as “magical”. “There’s something really special about playing to your people, your country,” adding that her favourite shows are the intimate ones in Aotearoa. When conversing with those she’s playing for, Georgia’s bubbly self emerges. “I love to chat. I enjoy those moments when I can connect with the audience,” and playing music is insanely personal.
Ahead of her newly finished upcoming first album, Georgia says it has been “nerve-wracking and daunting” releasing what is basically her journal. She returns to her roots often, for family, friends, her garden, or the beach, not seeing herself as someone in the limelight until she meets an unknown fan who knows everything about her life. “I feel like I’m just a normal person doing normal things, with a not-normal job.”
Recently returned from the studio and a ruthless American tour, the Kiwi summer hasn’t afforded her a longed-for schedule break. “It’s a grind every day. You’re in the trenches,” she explains. Her destination was stardom, yet finding fame is not always a smooth road to travel, and a brief period of imposter syndrome almost offset a completely different pathway. Nine years ago, Georgia was playing small shows and recording new songs that would never be published. “I was terrified to release any music. I was so scared of getting it wrong. It’s all of the things you worry about as an 18-year-old, trying to figure out your way in this industry.” Georgia found herself drifting away from harnessing her true potential. “I became quite paralysed with fear and didn’t do anything.”
A point came where Georgia realised she’d entertained two personalities of possibility in her mind: one that would continue talking about it for a lifetime, and one that would release the songs and see what became. Looking back, she remembers the constant burning question, “What if I don’t release the best song that I’ve ever written?” Now she answers herself with, “Newsflash, you’re always going to write a better song.”
Before long, Georgia had landed a Kickstarter campaign to bring an EP to life, and she flew to Houston to make it happen. However, with music recorded over fearful years and different seasons of life, those songs “felt old and stale”. It was a representation of the old Georgia. A metaphorical phoenix, she started anew and recorded her first EP, released in March 2019. “No one is here to tell you that this is a good or bad idea. It was a pivotal moment for me as an artist,” she mentions in recollection.
Georgia celebrated even when the release coincided with Aotearoa’s first Covid-19 lockdown. “We just had to carry on. We had to figure out how to do that when nothing looked normal.” She told her story, that it was never a singular effort. “I say us or we because I have so many wonderful people on my team.”
Advancing the industry with humble efforts, Georgia’s web series, Intros, covers the pathways young female and non-binary musicians face when entering the industry, offering a small platform for budding talents like her. “There’s a really big gap between when you decide that you want to do music, and then when you feel like you’re doing it and you’re supported,” she says.
The conversations are needed, Georgia adds, for change to follow. In 2023, she joined Waiata Anthems, dedicated to championing and normalising the beauty of te reo Māori in music. Recreating her popular Made for Loving hit in te reo Māori, captured both poignant and metaphorical meaning. “There’s something beautiful about the te reo version, a whole new side of the song,” Georgia explains.
A wild nine years in, and a lifetime to go, carrying the learnings in a job where much is outside her control, Georgia’s prepared to put herself first. Drinking enough water, getting enough exercise, and sharing time with loved ones; “It’s the basics,” she says, adding that a future, determined by balance and a sustainable pathway, “seems like success to me”.