For GL, a collaboration between Melbourne-based musicians Graeme Pogson and Ella Thompson, the sound of early ’80s disco funk is a key feature in not only their overall sound, but also their approach to making music. “I guess the late ‘70s and early ‘80s is when electronic music really started to evolve,” says Thompson, “so we kind of wanted to go back to the start of electronic music and go into the origins of those sounds. We both played lots of funk from the ‘60s and ‘70s era and then put some natural progression into finding different instruments and how to play them, and different styles of production and melody.”

Having both worked in larger ensembles, forming a smaller team allowed Pogson and Thompson to explore electronic and dance sounds while keeping their work in-house. “We were in The Bamboos together,” explains Thompson, “and that was quite a big band, and we wanted to try and do something that was maybe a little more compact, where the songwriters and producers were the players, and kind of keep it in a small unit.” This arrangement also allows both musicians to bring their own styles into the mix, with Thompson focusing on lyrics and melodies and Pogson specialising in basslines and drum patterns. “Graeme’s first instrument is the drums, whereas my first instrument is my voice,” as Thompson puts it, “so we both come at it from different ways and put all those things together.”

Following their previous two releases, Love Hexagon in 2014 and Touch in 2016, GL are about to release a new double A-side single, Destiny/Reflect. The first song, Destiny, is a catchy, upbeat dance number with a strong bassline and soaring vocals. The song is about finding positives in the world around us: “I guess there’s a bit of darkness in the world at the moment,” Thompson explains, describing how she wrote the song as “kind of a positive piece about the people that are around you and just supporting each other. Maybe if we all are compassionate to each other’s causes, then I think the world would be a better place.”

While Destiny fits well in the ‘80s electro pop mould, Reflect takes a different old-school approach, being inspired by the extended disco songs of the late ‘70s. “We wanted to try a long-form exploration piece where it was influenced by the longer disco edits, with more live drums [and] a live instrumentation feel rather than the more sequenced production of boogie music,” says Thompson, “so it’s a bit of a longer jam vibe rather than the three minute and a half pop format. We tried to stretch ourselves and see how the song and groove could evolve over a longer period of time.” Thompson explains that the song’s message is also a positive one: “I guess it’s looking inward instead when the outside is a bit chaotic.”

Looking forward, GL are about to embark on an Australian tour in July, as well as a European tour in September. “We’re very excited to go for the first time,” says Thompson. “We’re playing in Croatia and the UK, and maybe a few other places that haven’t been confirmed yet, but it’ll be just great, I think, for us go to the Northern Hemisphere.” As for any other future releases, GL are keeping their options open. “We’ve released quite a lot of music, so every time you release something new people go back and listen to other things that you’ve done, so we’ll just play it by ear, bit by bit.”

8 July, Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
15 July, Corner Hotel, Melbourne