Chapel Hill, North Carolina has a long tradition of being a main artery of indie rock. All that changed in 2012, when a distinguished English gentleman, Geoff Gilson, performing under the moniker Pop Voxx, burst onto the scene like a glitter bomb in an insurance seminar.
Geoff was a curiosity for sure — a man dipped in bold colors, pink highlights, and donning sparkly shoes, performing unashamed, euphoric dance-pop. At first, the audiences were a little bemused. Undaunted, he pressed on with many more Pop Voxx performances. And bombarded the shy millennials with surging waves of frothy musical jubilation.
Geoff’s wholesome and infectious oeuvre of fizzy pop songs about love, sea, sand, and happiness eventually won the scene’s heart. His irrepressible charisma and energy cracked their carefully crafted shell of indie rock nonchalance.
Soon, twenty-something hipsters in clubs around NC were being cajoled into silly refrains and hilarious dance routines. They were in the clutches of the unbridled joy of Pop Voxx.
Now, the masses can delight in the Pop Voxx phenomenon with the debut six-song EP, Beguiling!!. And, yes, there are two exclamation points at the end of EP’s title. Geoff quips: “Why should Wham! be the only pop act to use an exclamation point!”
“My music is all about access and fun. It’s catchy, simple, silly, and inoffensive, but it’s not parody,” Geoff cautions. “I may make fun of myself, but I was given a gift, and I don't make fun of my music, or anyone else's. I want to create some space where I can help others to discover their own magic, enjoy it and share it.”
Geoff recounts the story of one UNC college student who gushingly told Geoff that she brought her boyfriend to all Pop Voxx gigs because it was the only music she could get him to dance to!
Pop Voxx specializes in 1980s-styled pop, bursting with clever turns of phrases, unflinching positivity, bubble-gum hooks, and undeniable dance-pop beats. Pop Voxx has garnered favorable comparisons to Bruno Mars, Chromeo, Neon Indian, Grimes, Wham!, Katy Perry, ABBA, The Beatles, and The Bird And The Bee.
Beguiling!! is an eclectic assortment of brightly-colored pop that has an intriguing anachronistic appeal. These songs could have been hits in the 1980s, and yet, with modern pop’s infatuation with blissful retro synth-pop, these well-crafted gems could easily jewel today’s Top 40 charts, as well. “I mean, in the age of the internet, when all pop is now retro, what could be more original than someone who is genuinely ‘retro’?,” Geoff says playfully.
The EP’s leadoff single is the buoyant 'Kisses.' The track soars with amorous optimism, a sweet story of hope and love akin to The Carpenters’ 'We’ve Only Just Begun.' 'Kisses' brims with instantly familiar slogans and rousing pop hooks. It’s no surprise that, as a live set closer, 'Kisses' has become something of a regional dance hit with hugely popular choreographed moves.
On 'Caribbean Sunrise,' Geoff whisks the party away to a Tropical paradise. Here, he explores some unexpected outside influences. “There’s a base Latin feel to the song,” he explains, “ but then we’ve overlaid that with some Hawaiian guitars and strains of Bach and Strauss, who I view as being the very first pop stars. This song is my light-hearted take on sunny climes, balmy beaches and swaying palm trees,” he adds, with a big grin.
Other standouts on Beguiling!! include the lush 'Romantic Fool,' and the ambitious 'Magic Of Love.' With 'Romantic Fool' Geoff branches out into luxurious Bacharach-style 1970s soft rock. The six-minute 'Magic Of Love' majestically unfolds to rock opera proportions to reveal a mind for pop complexity. “I simply call it stadium disco-rock,” Gilson clarifies. “It took me 30 years to get that one out of my head, and two years to lay down the tracks.”
Fans can join in on the fun of Beguiling!! at home or in their car with the karaoke versions of the tracks that come with the EP. Or they can access the tracking stems on the various Pop Voxx web sites, and remix their own songs. All of Geoff’s music is offered on the basis of fans paying whatever they can afford. “My emphasis is on folks having fun, being happy,” declares Geoff, “I don’t want anyone to miss out just because they don’t have enough money.”
For 30 years, these songs have been spinning in Geoff’s head, perfectly formed, complete with orchestrations, instrumentation and harmonies. In that time span, Geoff went on a madly winding career journey.
A cross selection of career highlights includes becoming his town’s youngest-ever municipal councilor at the age of 22; being active at a national level in a British political party; authoring and publishing a book about illegal arms deals and high-level political corruption in Great Britain; helping to write speeches for Margaret Thatcher and Michael Dukakis; while also spending time as a lawyer, a PR consultant, a radio broadcaster, an actor and a stand-up comedian.
For the last 10 years, Geoff has lived in North Carolina and has dedicated his life to worker’s rights activism, in particular as a member of one America’s largest regional grocery co-operatives. He has also spent the past two decades successfully healing his body and soul from alcoholism.
Geoff’s music began the journey out of his head in 2005, as a series of demo's on his keyboard workstation. Then, in 2012, heeding the advice of producer Chris Wimberley, he took this homespun pop out to the clubs to road test it. Geoff spent years honing his performance skills and perfecting his songs in front of live audiences, before shifting into Chris’s Nightsound Studios in Carrboro, North Carolina, there to properly record his very first collection of songs.
Now, after making North Carolina millennials swoon over Pop Voxx’s dancey pop, Geoff is poised to sway masses with his exhilarating music. On the heels of releasing his debut EP 30 years in the making, Geoff is contemplative of this life milestone. He states wistfully: “For me, it’s all about making loads of people happy. Nothing gives me more joy than getting in front of an audience, looking them in the eye, connecting directly with them and entertaining them from a place of honesty.”