The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Escape Velocity

Georgia's Horse Head In From The Lone Star State
John Doran , April 30th, 2009 07:56

Get your hands on a free track by Georgia's Horse here and catch them live tonight at Cafe Oto in East London.

During Spring every year, the world’s music press descends on the SXSW conference held across Austin, Texas. Wearing box-fresh cowboy boots, critics swarm along the blues bars and juke joints of 6th and Congress looking for the next big thing and BBQ ribs. But what they are searching for lies further afield. What they want to hear is out of town, past the city limits, past the huge boneyards containing the ghosts of the Civil War dead, along carrion-encrusted highways, past farm shacks and Mexican settlements, out into the real heart of the Lone Star State. This is where you can find the haunted Americana of Georgia’s Horse.

Their new EP ‘Shepherd’ and album Mammoth Sessions are redolent of the sun-baked vacant lots of Wim Wenders’ ‘Paris Texas’, the gentle (ex pat) Americana of The New Pornographers, a light dusting of the folk psychedelia of Smog, and the torrid and threatening country death songs of PJ Harvey’s ‘To Bring You My Love’.

This music is all the skewed and magnetic vision of singer-songwriter Teresa Maldonado. But don't just take our word for it — visit our friends at Fire Records, register and use this code: jnsd89ag to download free track, 'For A New York Track'.

Or even better, if you're in East London, get your boots on and get yourselves down Cafe Oto and watch her and her band The Two Star Symphony perform live tonight. We caught up with Teresa earlier for a chat.

How does it feel having Mammoth Sessions out and was the conception and birth a long or tortuous process?
Teresa Maldonado: "I'm really very happy having the album making its way to the public. These songs have a more than special place in my heart. They were sort of a wake up call to myself as a live performer. The lyrics acted as a breathing machine that kept georgia's Horse. from buying the farm, you know? Now that the songs have leant their healing hands to me, they finally get to go and mingle with the public a bit. Do some travelling. Visit different sets of ears. Hopefully they'll write and keep me updated on their whereabouts!

"The conception was quick and not so much tortuous. Just a little sad that's all. But out of a sad conception came a special life. It was the most unexpected collection of songs that came about. 'Snake and Sparrow' was the first kick in the womb. I thought for certain at the time, that would be the last kick I'd feel for a long time. I was wrong. And that was a beautiful thing to be wrong about."

**All forms of American folk music like Americana and C&W or alt country are very localized forms of music. Why do you think they perform well away from home? Or do they? **

TM: "Hmmm, I can't say I would know the answer to that question. Perhaps it's because some people aren't able to get over to the states to listen to live Americana. So when the performers venture out, the listeners get to take a sort of aural trip."

What qualities make Texans unlike any other Americans? Or do you not believe in all that bull?

TM: "Hmmm ... I'm sitting here with Two Star Symphony, my backing band for this round of shows and one quality is our undying loyalty to our spurs. We never take them off. Even in bed. I like his answer very much. Haha! It's funny 'cause it's true. I got spurs that jingle jangle jingle. That and, that we like to have longhorns strapped to the front of our cadillacs. It's the South West's version of bling."

**The vast majority of people who visit Texas from outside the country or even the state won't visit anywhere smaller than Austin and most will go to Houston or Dallas. What is the real Texas that they are missing?**

TM: "Ooooohhhhh...Places where there is nothing else around but the stars, creeks, and old crickety houses. Just my opinion. That's where you get the best "eeries". Eeries are good for the heart. They keep your imagination on it's toes. I'd have to say the best thing about Texas is the land. We have so much of everything. Mountains, Swamp land, DESERTS! Cities are pretty much the same in every state you go to. I mean c'mon, there's McDonald's everywhere. Banks, Night Clubs, Bars. They're all the same in big cities. I live in a big city, I have my favorite bars and restaurants of course. But I live there you know. It's not discovery or revelation. The real Texas is the land, the people who don't have to drive to Wal-Mart every Sunday to get their groceries or DVDs. This is what I would say to anyone who would want to travel to Texas: Enjoy the land. Find places to explore. Hit the small towns that have home cooking restaurants. We have some beautiful small towns. I want to move to one someday."

Over at The Quietus we're big fans of Various Productions. How did you come to work with them and how did that turn out?

TM: "Fire hooked the wires up for that connection. And what a lovely little connection that turned out to be. I quite enjoyed Various Production's version of 'As It Stops Raining'. I quite enjoy Various Production actually. I never thought I would ever hear a georgia's Horse track re-mixed before. This was a first for me."

You have quite an 'authentic' sound - the kind that always gets described as 'dusty' in the UK press. Getting the sound of the recording right must be half the battle right? Do you go for live takes and recording in a shed and all that stuff? Or can these 'authentic' recordings be produced in state of the art studio?

TM: "For me personally, I tend to have a habit of recording an 'idea' just for the sake of remembering my thought. But then I end up shaping the idea with other instrumentation or vocals. When i try to go back and re-record to clean it up or change lyrics or something, it never works out. I usually just keep the first take. More often than not. I record at home in a very, uhm, not so high-tech setup. I have no idea how to actually record things professionaly either. I mean, I'm not keen to any recording tricks or anything. I know how hit these buttons: record, rewind, stop, and a couple of other things I guess. That's probably why the tracks may have that 'dusty' sound you speak of. I like them though. I mean, it's kind of like having a baby I suppose. It's your's and other people may not think it's perfect or cute, but she's the way she was meant to be. I've actually recorded in a state of the art studio once. 'Erzulie Dantor' was recorded there. As much as I love how the recording turned out (the piano sounded amazing on the track), I couldn't help but feel very odd recording in front of another person. That feeling kind of stuck with me. Because when I listen to the track, I feel a little awkward. Like maybe it's missing just a tad bit of the rust that I'm used to. I wonder though, how Bonnie 'Prince' Billy or Iron and Wine record. Their songs still sound authentic to me even though the quaility has grown from album to album. If they record in state of the art studios, then I would say that yeah, the authenticity can still be produced there. I guess it depends on who the artist is when they walk in. Let's say Madonna, wants to record an Iron and Wine track, walks in with her Hermes hand bag and Gucci shoes, goes into the recording booth, and tells the engineers to make it sound old and dusty, it's still gonna come out Madonna. High gloss polished with it's own Hermes bag and Gucci shoes. Just old and dusty. I'm a big fan of Madonna's Like A Prayer Album. 'Promise To Try' would have been a great old and dusty track if Iron and Wine had recorded it!"

Was your childhood troubled, idyllic or run of the mill? Were you a good student? What were you obsessed with? What turned you on to music? Do you come from a musical family?

TM: "Sometimes, I miss my childhood. I guess you could say it was run of the mill to most people. But that's relative. I remember my mother bringing home a pet duck she bought for me once when i was around 3 or 4. She decided it wasn't a such a great idea because it was, you know, not easily housebroken. Because it was given to me, it was a nice memory, because it was taken away, it was sad. It's all the way just the way it goes. I'd say I was a good student. Yes. I enjoyed and still enjoy learning. Okay wait, are we talking good student as in grades or as in conduct? I was good at one of those! I was obsessed with getting in touch with God when I was fairly young. My parents weren't religious but I came from a very religious area of Houston. Lot's of, bible-beaters. I constantly had questions and my parents were supportative enough to let me explore a couple of different religions at such a young age. I would take the Sunday School Buses to church and come back home after services and attempt to preach to my parents. They were cool. Would listen and encourage my search for answers. Even if they didn't share my views. Religion. Finding answers. I really was obsessed with that in my childhood. I think I wanted to be a nun when I was a kid. No joke. Sometimes I still think about the nun thing. But like my parents, I'm more spiritual and not at all religious. So being a nun would be difficult. When I was in the fourth grade, my father bought me a Yamaha PSR-11. I still have it. It was this huge keyboard. I loved that thing. Played around on it constantly. My father taught me how to play two songs. One of them was 'The Baby Elephant Walk' but for the life of me, I can't remember what the second song was. I came from somewhat of a musical family. My Aunt was a classically trained pianist and flautist from the time she was a very young girl. My dad just picked up piano on his own and liked to play a lot of Floyd Cramer songs. Cramer is this old country honky tonk pianist. We always asked my dad to play Last Date. It has the best little progression in it. Awesome. My grandfather was a violinist and when I started to play cello in Junior High, we started to bond more over music. My little brother and I both started taking piano lessons for a while. Didn't work out though. We loved our teacher but hated practicing."

What about when you were in your difficult teens? Were you part of a Jesus Lizard style punk group - or has it been country death songs all the way?

TM: "No, no, country death songs didn't make their way into my heart until YEARS later. Ah the teenage years. After being turned on to The Cure, I got into Nine Inch Nails, PJ Harvey, Joy Division, Rolling Stones and The Smiths/Morrissey. I didn't have the best musical taste when I was younger. Before The Cure, I was into really mainstream pop bands like New Kids On The Block, Tiffany. I mean it was what I related to of course. Young bubblegum pop fun for happy pre-teen kids. That was me. Sometimes I wish I had an older sibling who would have started me off on the right foot to good music. I try to do that with my younger cousins now. The more darker stuff came along when I was introduced to the music of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It was all downhill to the mossy cold grave from there. And man is it ever so comfortable."

And now the difficult one: what motivates you to be in a group? There's so much music out there already and not much in the way of money? Obviously we're glad you do what you do, we want to know why as well.

TM: "Healing through creativity, as cheesy as that may sound, is what motivates me to be involved in music. Motiviation for being in a group comes from my shyness on stage. I need to have other people around me to feel comfortable playing. I think really happens, is that it lessens the burden of coming back to the lyrics during preformances. When I'm alone and practicing, I can recall all the images that go along with lyrics and it can be daunting. Tiresome almost. But when I'm playing with a group, i can snap my self out of the cold water by catching a glimpse of the other players riding along with me. It's soothing, comforting. But as far as it not being a way to make money, it's just not relevant. Music is a way for me to survive. And not even just music. Creating in general. Having an outlet for experiences that could other wise cause damage to the heart. I know that I would be a completely different person if I weren't writing. I want to do music for a living. Making money isn't really a part of that living."