Georgie James is a band on the rise. The duo makes smart, infectious pop with tight harmonies and jangling guitars — an upbeat and innocent sound that's made its debut album (Places) a sleeper success. Here, Georgie James visits NPR's Studio 4A for the Project Song challenge: Write and record a song in two days.
The duo of Laura Burhenn and John Davis gathered at NPR's Studio 4A with All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen and browsed a set of photos and phrases for inspiration. They eventually settled on a stark but serene image by New York photographer Phil Toledano, depicting a bare room with a large pile of books stacked in the middle. For the phrase, the band chose "Something Joyful."
Burhenn offered a piano riff she'd been playing around with days before as the initial building block. Davis added drums, bass and guitar. The two layered the sound with multiple harmonies and hand-claps.
Two days later, they had a song they called "Monument." It's a three-and-a-half-minute pop gem that marries the contrasting loneliness of the photograph with the spirit of "something joyful."
"It's really difficult when you have two people who are trying to meet in the middle," Burhenn says. "We each had a different vision of where this was going to go, and to try to very quickly throw that together is a difficult thing."
Georgie James got its start when drummer John Davis' former band, Q and Not U, disbanded in 2005. Afterward, Davis turned to his singer-songwriter friend, Burhenn, to forge something new.
At first, the two seemed like an unlikely pair. Davis had spent the past seven years releasing records with his bandmates on the legendary D.C. punk label Dischord and touring the world. Burhenn, on the other hand, had been releasing solo projects on her own label, Laboratory Records, and playing smaller venues on the east and west coast.
But the end result of this edition of Project Song demonstrates that Davis and Burhenn know how to make it work. We've documented the entire creative process, shot by NPR video producer John Poole. See the full video of the project, or just the song by itself, using the links above.