BBC Sound of 2013: AlunaGeorge
The BBC Sound of 2013 list showcases some of music's most exciting emerging stars, selected by more than 210 leading critics, bloggers and broadcasters.
This year's runners-up are London R&B duo AlunaGeorge. They are the penultimate act to be revealed from the top five. The winner will be named on Friday.
"I collect stories," says singer Aluna Francis. "A couple of the songs are a story that [bandmate George Reid] has told me, a couple are friends and stories they've told me.
"People tell me a lot of stuff and I find it really fascinating."
Francis' friends will be listening closely when the pair's debut album comes out later this year.
Some banter ensues as Reid suggests his partner is "exploiting" people's stories. Not so, says Francis, who seems ever ready to put a positive spin on things.
"Hey, you wouldn't like your story made into a song?" she asks, smirking.
"Sometimes you think no-one cares and no-one's listening to what your saying. But actually, they've been inspired by your story and written a song about it. All's fair in life."
It is not just their friends who will be listening closely - Aluna and George's combination of glitchy R&B with futuristic (yet sweetly melodic) electro-pop has led critics to predict a bright future for this duo.
As well as second place on the Sound of 2013 list, they were also nominated for the Brit Awards' Critics' Choice prize.
"It's absolutely incredible, we're loving it," enthuses Francis about the response. "It makes a massive difference about how we feel about going into the year and getting out there."
They have always been "quite tricky to please" and quick to put pressure on each other ("in a nice way", says Reid), but the reaction is a "warm validation" that has confirmed their sound is "not just good to our ears," he says.
"There is a little bit more pressure now because people expect a certain level or certain feel to the music, but that pressure is a massive blessing," he says.
AlunaGeorge formed in June 2009 while Francis was in another band, the London-based synth-pop quartet My Toys Like Me.
Getting together with Reid - who was remixing a My Toys Like Me track - ignited a spark that could not be ignored, the pair say, and they began working on their own material.
Francis is nonchalant about cutting her losses with her former bandmates.
"The stuff me and George made was too enticing. I was too curious to know what it was we could do together to give it up for something I had already worked on for long enough to know it wasn't going to move on."
After bonding over Radiohead and Michael Jackson, ideas flowed as the pair took a "very collaborative" approach in the studio.
"We take it in turns to inspire each other to finish off an idea that might have started with [Reid's] beats or something he's written, or something I've messed around with on the piano," says Francis.
"We take [our music] to its bare bones," the singer says. "We've got good beats that are either sexy or dancy and then songs on top."
So, what is the back-up plan if the stories run out or they are unable to meet the challenge? It turns out neither has one.
"You can't have fall back plans in this game," insists Francis. "They're pointless. No fall back plans will ever make up for you not getting to the point you want to get to in the dream job."
Reid is a little less emphatic: "They're wise to have, but I dug myself into a hole so deep with music. I didn't get much education after college, so it kind of needs to work out".
A former guitarist in math-pop band Colour, Reid admits the journey to this point has been "tricky".
"Although the public perception may be that it's been a quick rise, it hasn't been fast or necessarily easy."
"Nothing comes easily," interrupts Francis. "But I've enjoyed every second getting to this point, because it's all meant something to me personally.
"If you've got the motivation for something, it makes the ups and the downs part of this cool journey."
A little more upbeat, Reid adds: "We've been really fortunate to be on a steady slope upwards, and if that continues we'll be very happy."