=Speaking as openly as one would with an old friend, Jess Higgs – who makes music under the moniker George Maple – is warm, inviting and full of wisdom. But despite her humility, her cinematic stage persona is evident as she takes the interview while trying on a stage costume which she describes as “a fragmented disco ball type outfit,” laughing as she re-attaches stray pieces of mirror onto the garment.
Despite having already accrued a number of festival slots and a huge fan base over the last few years, Maple’s recently released album, Lover, is her first. Written over a period of three years, the album is an aural distillation of her experiences, both good and bad, during that time.
“It’s a very long time in the making. I feel like I’m finally ready to release an LP, which is why I’ve taken my time with getting it all together and making sure that everything’s right,” she says. “I call it a series of intimate events. It explores the notion of intimacy across various platforms and dynamics.
“I find intimacy, for me, is this space that we all have. People enter into our intimate space and it’s almost as though they’re unlocking Pandora’s Box, as soon as they get to that little space that’s close to your heart – and it’s not just necessarily a romantic thing.
“It can be someone coming into your creative space or someone coming into something that’s deeply personal to you – and it unlocks and triggers everything that you’ve held onto since you were about four years old. It’s this whirlpool of emotions and various sides of our psyche and our being and the not so nice parts.”
Although her presence is an entity of its own, whether it’s through her perfect diction and insightful musings conversationally or the charismatic energy that captures the crowd in her live performances, the moniker George Maple began as a façade employed to disguise a lack of confidence.
“It started off as a pseudonym that was a platform for me to hide behind and to find a way to express myself without it having to be directly attached to me as a person. Along the way this project has allowed me to actually become comfortable with being really open and vulnerable and candid.
“Authenticity has always been a really big part of my mantra but this candid honesty and not pretending that everything is perfect and exploring the gritty side of the human condition, is super, super important to me. The album, I don’t know if it’s life imitating art or art imitating life, but it’s been a big part of my soul development.”
Following the release of Lover, George Maple is set to perform at Beyond The Valley this December, for which she is just as excited as any other festival goer ready to ring in the New Year in a flurry of fireworks and music among hundreds of dancing bodies.
“I really love performing at festivals so much and I think it’s something that I’ve really grown to embrace over the past few years because it’s fun and it’s not so serious. It doesn’t have to be dramatic in a way that it has to articulate the record, it’s just about everyone having fun, particularly when it’s on New Years.
“I think shows should be like that always, but I think in this particular context it’s just about raving. I love that on stage and I love when the audience is up for it. I build my sets so that they work in that context – so that there are strobes and there are lots of lights and lots of smoke and lots of edits – I just want to have fun.
“Groovin’ The Moo was the last time I performed in Australia and I was floored. I came off stage and I collapsed and cried. It was amazing. I’m really, incredibly lucky to have such a supportive fan base here.”