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Chatting With Stoner Soul Musician GC OConnor


GC OCONNER

Step into the sonic realm of GC OConnor – where music becomes a refreshing breeze. Sydney's maestro, Loraio, weaves magic in 'Soul Lament,' crafting a profound experience. Picture GC's husky vocals riding the waves of blissful, spatial guitars, a rhythmic dance of rolling bass lines, and low-slung drums – a beautiful sound hallucination. It's a compelling fusion of soul, jazz, and R&B, a testament to GC OConnor's unique twist on genre standards.


For those seeking a musical journey akin to Cleo Sol, Laura Mvula, Valerie June, or Nai Palm, GC OConnor is your guide. Her smooth, intoxicating vocals meld seamlessly with layered, rich arrangements, delivering a sound that's remarkably contemporary in 2023 while paying homage to the genre's roots.


Having made waves with the previous single 'Love on High,' earning accolades from tastemakers like Jyoty (Rinse FM) and Tony Minvieille (Jazz FM), who dubbed it a "proper underground soul vibe," GC OConnor continues to garner support. Gilles Peterson himself has lent his endorsement in the past, solidifying her presence in the soulful underground landscape.


Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind your latest EP, "Soul Lament," and the journey that led to its creation, especially working with producer Loraio?


"Soul Lament" has been about 5 years in the making, like a literal labour of love. I had been floating around Sydney, Melbourne and London writing and performing for years, banking up some amazing tunes like "Love On High" that was just released which I recorded with The Goods (a producer duo here in Sydney). But I had ended up at a Derrick Hodge listening party years ago and after a few beers and a whole bass heavy jazz record later, I found myself on the street and convincing this skinny, fly as hell muthafucka Loraio that he should help me make what I described as a "soundscape mixtape". We then spent 5 years turning his second room into a studio to record the whole EP. The demos of the all the tracks sound very different from what turned into the tracks on the EP now but it was a beautiful journey that involved many beautiful contributors like Wallace, Sela Moon, Ijale (all incredible Aus and NZ artists).



"Love on High" received praise from tastemakers like Jyoty and Tony Minvieille. How did their feedback and support impact your artistic journey, and what does it mean to you to be recognized in the music industry?


It's such a trip to have tastemakers like them dig it. I even remember Gilles Peterson spinning the demo version "Stay" on his radio show when he was in Sydney a few years ago. I think when people you admire big you up it just really pushes you to do better, be more creative. I also never really thought my weird fusion of musical styles would be something that these musical tastemakers would get it, let alone like it.

You've mentioned that "Soul Lament" is a fusion of soul, jazz, and R&B influences with your unique twist. Could you elaborate on your creative process and how you've developed your signature style over the years?


I mean I grew up on an extremely eclectic array of music and styles. I mean my dad would wake us up with Coltrane and finish the night with Gillian Welch. But I definitely was drawn to soulful, bluesy music, the Billie Holidays and Buddy Guys of the world. I think when I picked a guitar up when I was about 4 years old, all I wanted to be was Buddy Guy and Jimi Hendrix. But when I heard Amy Winehouse's "Frank" record, that honestly blew my mind to what vibey, boundary-less music could be.


My creative process was in a birthed from me being equally drawn to Mary Black and Jill Scott, Joni Mitchell and Billie Holiday, D'Angelo and Bill Evans. My style, and in tern "Soul Lament", is my perpetual exploration of soul and expression through music.


The concept for "Soul Lament" came from my unique musical upbringing. You wouldn't know it from the jump but it was highly influenced by traditional Irish music, music I grew up with, as well as the jazz tradition of stripping apart a melody and reharmonising it. The last track is my soul-jazz take on an Irish traditional song called "An rabid tú ar an gCarraig", a kind of Irish gospel song if you will, but I wrote my own "stoner soul" gospel reimagining.

And the whole EP is named after my all time favourite soul jazz guitar track by Kenny Burrell called "Soul Lament". So I guess it's all an exploration of melancholy.



Your music is described as "stoner soul." Can you share more about what this genre means to you and how it manifests in your sound and lyrics?


I mean I kind of coined that for myself ages ago when I couldn't describe my style to people. It's pretty simple in my mind, I think my music is soulful and I kind of always sit in the tempo pocket of around 70 bpm. I mean 70 bpm is like the chillest bpm, it's slow but still has movement but movement with ease. Music to get stoned to or relax too or move to in the bedroom ;) It's music that has space between the notes but is never silent.


And I guess I explore also that "meaning of life" feeling when you are stoned in how I write lyrics. How can you explore deep love and loss concepts with as few words as possible. I mean when you are stoned you definitely feel prolific but at the same time loose about half of your vocabulary.


Could you talk about the significance of "Soul Lament" as a representation of your artistic growth and the years of hard work you've put into your music career, including your experiences opening for artists like Joyce Wrice and Children of Zeus?


Like so many artists, I kind of sat on my music for years, not really knowing how to put it out in the world or how to best represent a sound that was in a way pretty unique. But playing on stages with artists who also kind of took more traditional r&b music and put their weird flavour on it, like Joyce and Children Of Zeus, kind of helped solidify my own trust in putting out music that wasn't "normative".

"Soul Lament" has been compared to artists like Cleo Sol, Laura Mvula, Valerie June, and Nai Palm. How do you approach drawing inspiration from these artists while maintaining your unique voice and perspective in your music?

Every single one of those artists is an insane musical gift from the gods, so I do not take lightly my name being mentioned in the same sentence.


I would say creativity doesn't happen in a vacuum, we are all just a make up of things that have been come before us. What I love to draw from is how artists take the conventional and turn it into the personal and unique. How artists like Nai and Valerie and so many more take opposing forces and bring this kind of sonic harmony. I would never want to "sound" like anyone else, that would mean I wasn't expressing my own self, that I wasn't referencing but was just imitating.

With the release of "Soul Lament," what do you envision for your musical journey in 2023 and beyond? Are there any specific goals or aspirations you'd like to share with your growing audience?


Getting this EP out and also pressed to vinyl will be an insane thing to happen. Getting DJs I admire to spin it will blow my mind. Hopefully I can come back to the UK 2024 and play, get back to the place that was maybe the biggest formative community in my musical journey. The new soul and RnB scene in the UK is where I have drawn the most influence recent times so to take my own vibes over there would be a dream. And then head straight.

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