It’s been a huge year for Perth singer-songwriter Georgi Kay, but a role in Jane Campion’s drama series Top of the Lake was one highlight she could never have predicted.
Kay admits that she was unfamiliar with Campion’s work before a friend suggested that she audition for the part of a musician in the show. She turned up not knowing what to expect, and was terrified when she found out that the part also called for her to act. “I was flipping out, but they said that Jane wanted someone natural for the part, with minimal acting experience. I was scared and still really didn’t know who she was or what I was doing, but I went for it.”
A week or so later, Kay found out from Jane Campion herself that she had won the part. Her character is called upon to play an acoustic cover of the Björk song ‘Joga’ during a particularly emotional funeral scene. “I would never have thought of covering that song myself,” she says. “I was nervous before I did it, because I love Björk. She’s unique, she’s her own entity, and I didn’t know how easy it would be to offer my own take on one of her songs. I didn’t want to defile it or ruin it. It’s had a really good response so far, from fans and people who’ve watched Top of the Lake. I love performing it.”
Since appearing in the show, Kay has been spending time in the UK, working on tracks for her upcoming album. She tells me that the sound of her new material is a cross between Depeche Mode and Florence and the Machine, a combination she experimented with on her recent In My Mind EP. “Working on music in the UK has been really good fun,” she says. “I was born in London, and I was very young when my mum and dad moved to Australia, so I feel like I’ve missed out on a bit of my childhood there. I’ve been working in a converted church in Somerset, and it’s been great to go back.”
Kay has collaborated with a number of heavy-hitting pop songwriters on her new material, including Justin Parker, who has penned tracks for the likes of Lana Del Rey and Rihanna. The input of her collaborators, along with the beauty of the Somerset setting, has made for something of a dream recording process. “We went there to get away from distractions, so it’s been great,” she says. “I’m a very visual writer – I like to imagine what would be happening in a film if a song was playing in the background. I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from the landscape and the scenery around me, and it’s a pretty amazing feeling.”
While she puts the finishing touches on the album, Kay is touring the country for a series of shows in support of her In My Mind EP. I ask about her aspirations for after the album is out, and she doesn’t hold back. “I would love to be selling out shows all around the world,” she says. “I’d love to be an international success, have a big fan base, travel the world, meet and collaborate with new people. There are so many things I want to do, and so many things I don’t even know I want to do yet. It’s a big adventure that I’m looking forward to going on.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN
In My Mind is out now through Ivy League/Mushroom.