George FitzGerald has never seen Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi film Arrival, but he anticipates the question as soon as the topic comes up. The image of an inky circle that graces the cover of his 2018 album All That Must Be looks similar to a logogram written in “Heptapod B,” the non-chronological language the aliens teach to Amy Adams in the film.
“You have this fear of treading on anyone else’s toes with the things you’re doing,” FitzGerald tells SF Weekly. “When people started saying to me it looks like the Arrival thing, I was like, ‘Oh no, we just pressed thousands of copies of an album and put it on Spotify, and it’s exactly the same thing as the fucking artwork.’ Luckily, it’s not — I can see why it reminds people of that — but I genuinely had no idea.”
OK, but what if All That Must Be is actually a vessel for communicating with extraterrestrials, and George FitzGerald, London DJ, will actually be the human who facilitates first contact with another sentient species?
“That would have been a way cooler answer, wouldn’t it?” he says. “It was a bit more mundane than that.”
What aren’t mundane, though, are FitzGerald’s expansive songs, which would make a good soundtrack for accelerating to light speed in the magnificence of outer space. “Burns” in particular has already elicited remixes from Lane 8, DJ Seinfeld, and Moby (who FitzGerald worked with on a track called “Like a Motherless Child,” an experience he calls a “really special thing”). Then there’s the somber tone of “Roll Back,” which could pass for an Active Child song. Apart from potentially cosmic symbolism, another recurring motif in FitzGerald’s work is the color yellow — his lighting leans heavily on that hue, and All That Must Be is an assertive goldenrod.
“It’s not like synesthesia,” he explains. “But definitely, when you’re writing, you have an idea of certain colors. There are very definitely things when putting together the record that you keep coming back to, and that bold, slightly fiery yellow I had in my head, so we had to use it as the principal color for the record.”
Having just played the Crssd Festival in San Diego, FitzGerald volunteers that this is the first time he’s played in the U.S. with a live band, just under a year after their first show in Hoxton, East London. Calling a live show and a DJ set “two different disciplines,” he agrees that the scene migrated back to London from other corners of the continent during the decade or so that he resided in Berlin.
“London has big music fluctuations,” FitzGerald says. “There’s always so much happening. It’s hard to say if things are up or down, but it definitely feels at the moment like a lot of people who maybe spent the last few years in Berlin are coming back. … London is a great place to be.”
While most acts at Treasure Island would doubtless prefer to headline or play as the sun goes down, FitzGerald is quite content with his early-afternoon slot.
“I looked at that set time and thought I’d probably like to play a bit later, but this is the first time that I’ve been there in the States — and you spend a whole summer touring through Europe and you can have the most unexpected thing happen. Sometimes, you play at 1 a.m. on a stage and think it will be amazing and it doesn’t quite fulfill your expectations, and sometimes you can be on at one in the afternoon and have a very similar feeling. At the Melt Festival in Berlin, it was like a heat wave for Europe, and I thought it would be a disaster and five minutes before we went on, 5,000 people appeared and it was like the highlight of the summer for me.”
George FitzGerald, Saturday, Oct. 13, 1:20-2 p.m., on the City Stage.
See more from SF Weekly’s Treasure Island Music Festival issue:
A Decade of Postcoital Bliss, With Cigarettes After Sex
Years after it began, Cigarettes After Sex suddenly became a breakout YouTube sensation. Songwriter Greg Gonzalez got to the bottom of it.
Soccer Mommy Embraces ‘Chill but Kinda Sad’ Vibes
Clean follows the 21-year-old’s ‘very depressing and cool’ experience of moving to New York for college in indie heartbreak-style.
Serpentwithfeet Is No Performance Artist
Blended with soul and R&B, the traditions of the Black gospel churches that serpent grew up in flourish on his debut album, soil.
Courtney Barnett Is a Millennial Courtney Love
The Australian singer-songwriter speaks to the stereotype of the lazy, navel-gazing generation — and in doing so, sees rampant success.
Pusha T, Perfectionist
He’s back from Wyoming with a clear perspective of his place in hip-hop.