During the year Georgia Flipo spent in her home in Melbourne, busy writing songs, she became a bit of hermit. She didn’t spend much time with her friends, but instead started thinking of her primary instrument, her drum kit, as a pal.
“You know how a dog is a man’s best friend? For me, my drum kit is my best mate,” said Flipo, who goes by G Flip and quickly became well-known in indie music circles earlier this year when the first of her original songs became a hit within a day of her posting it online.
G Flip would routinely talk to her drum set, as a joke, asking it rhetorical questions about how its day was going and wishing it good morning. Then, she had an idea: What if it could talk back to her?
“I read you should create things you wish existed … and I wished my drum kit would talk back to me, and it was alive,” the 24-year-old said. “My brain just started going crazy, and I was like, ‘I reckon I could actually put that together. All I’ve got to do is get an LED screen that can fit perfectly within a 21-inch circumference.’”
G Flip ended up building the first LED-responsive drum skin, which she affectionately named Jeromo, after her late drum instructor.
Breakfast, shower, hit G Flip song
In less than 12 months, G Flip has gone from backing musician to buzzy singer-songwriter, thanks to the success of overnight smash “About You,” which she posted online in February. She’d written the electro-pop slow-burner one morning between breakfast and a shower.
The next month, she was one of the most hyped artists at SXSW, playing eight shows in under a week. She’s only released one other song since then: “Killing My Time,” about a former girlfriend who was distracting G Flip from her goal of making music. But more music is coming soon.
“I’ve been working a lot, every single day,” she said. “I’m in my bedroom studio just getting all my songs. Since South-by, I’ve been playing eight to 10 songs live. I was on tour so quickly; I wasn’t really at home in my studio to record the tunes. … I’m going to get out as much as I can, and next year I think there will be a lot more music rather than these two songs that I’ve got out, but there’s a lot more coming.”
Flipo got her first drum set when was 9. Three years later, she started taking lessons from instructor Jenny Morrish, who was also a teacher at her school. The two became very close for the next seven years, until Flipo was 19. She signed up for multiple classes at a time: two sets of drum lessons, xylophone and orchestra.
“Those years in your life you’re very impressionable as an adolescent, and she was my absolute idol,” she said. “She kind of raised … who I am as a person and my love for music. I spent a lot of time with her, and she watched me grow up, and shared her dreams with me when I was a child. Her dreams became my dreams. She’d leave the drum key after me so that I could get into the drum room and practice if I wanted to. We’re very similar, personality-wise, as well, and we just got along like a house on fire. She taught me everything. I play with the same drumsticks as her and got the same drum kit as her.”
Morrish passed away three years ago from cancer, in her early 30s, but she gave G Flip direction for her own life and music aspirations. At the time, Flipo had been playing with numerous bands around Melbourne, and she auditioned to be the touring drummer for a band called Empra, beating out 25 others for the job after learning all of the band’s songs, as well as the songs’ backing harmonies. Empra had asked the drummers auditioning to learn just two.
G Flip knew the band had an overseas tour coming up and was hoping that could be her big break. That was her first time crisscrossing the U.S. for four months on a bus with nine boys. After the band broke up, she set her mind to start a solo project.
Rough around the edges
Flipo had written songs since she was 14, learning some keys and guitar playing along the way. She studied music in college, but would have to learn production for the first time.
That contributed to the rough edges of “About You,” a song about the ups and downs of a previous relationship. She had planned to upload the song to a local artist submission platform run by Australia’s Triple J radio station, and then several weeks later make it available on streaming services. Instead, the song was quickly spotted by Triple J, which played it on the air.
“I never anticipated it to blow up day one after it was uploaded. So that day was a very crazy, chaotic day for me, sitting in my bedroom,” G Flip said.
Over the last few months, G Flip has had to figure out everything from planning solo tours to which songs she could play live.
“When I was putting my show together, I quickly realized I couldn’t play all the instruments myself like I do on the recording,” she said.
Flipo plays with two musicians, one of whom she met on her first U.S. tour with Empra, and the three switch off instruments on most songs. She’ll start at her drumset, and then switch to the bass.
“I’ll play another song where I’m just running around crazy as a frontwoman,” she said. “We’re all multi-instrumentalists.”
At the same time she’s planning tours and production, G Flip is also working to release her new material, giving fans more than the two songs they can listen to at the moment.
“I have a grand vision, and then I’ll wake up at 3 a.m. … and then have another vision and be like, ‘No, this is what my whole plan should be, and the artwork, and the whole idea,’” she said. “Right now I’ve got quite a few songs I’m gearing to get out. I’d like to go straight into an album and skip the EP at the moment.”
Follow editor Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter.