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Date March 24
Type Interview
Source Wales Online
Title Goldfrapp's moving to a happy place
Country Wales, UK
Journalist/Photographer
Text Watching the career of pop duo Goldfrapp is an interesting sport.

When Alison Goldfrapp and musical partner Will Gregory emerged with their particular brand of ambient, filmic pop in 2000, few music fans would have guessed what was to follow in the next decade.

With an almost chameleonic shift, the duo made two albums – 2003’s Black Cherry and 2005’s Supernature – of smart, glam-inspired, electro pop, while their next album Seventh Tree, released two years ago ushered in an era of psychedelic, pastoral folk; Maypole, Wicker Man overtones and all.

For their current album, Alison and Will “just wanted to get the drums and synths out again,” a statement which both conjures up images of the most fun cupboard you can think of, rammed full of old instruments, and indicates how easily the front-woman gets bored.

“We always try to do something different, or at least create a different mood,” she begins. “We have to push it forward somehow. Whenever we start a new album, it always sounds like the previous one, but then that’s somehow disingenuous to do the same thing again.

“There’s never a plan, never really sure what we’re going to do at the start. Every album has to be different to the last. I wouldn’t say Head First is a reaction to Seventh Tree, but we certainly didn’t want to make another folk record. I wouldn’t have been able to cope.”

Although it wasn’t really noted at the time, Alison was experiencing “something really terrible” around the time of the last album, although she won’t be drawn on what it was.

“There were a lot of things going on, and I was stressed and really not in a good state,” is as far as she goes. “I think I’ve shaken off those things.

“Making an album is a good way to exorcise demons, a little bit, and I think of each album as an era. It’s very much an expression, of yourself and what you’re doing, and it’s a chance to articulate what you can’t say in everyday life.

“Also, making something beautiful out of something really shit is the best revenge there is. I think Seventh Tree, some of it was very beautiful, and I’m proud of being able to make something out of something terrible.

“I am pretty damned happy at the moment, and it shows. That’s what’s so good about having a creative outlet, whatever it may be,” she adds.

It certainly does show. The lead single from Head First is Rocket, which is about the most-perfect pop song the band have written, seemingly inspired by youth and nostalgia, not to mention Xanadu by Olivia Newton-John.

Many of the other songs on the album are similarly upbeat.

“I think there is a certain naivety to it all, and it’s very up and optimistic and vibrant,” explains Alison, who turns 43 in a matter of weeks. “It has big fat synth melodies, and there are a lot of hands-in-the-air moments to it, too. But you can’t please everyone can you – someone said to me last night that it’s too happy!

“That was on the message board of our website. That’s someone basically saying, ’Why can’t she be miserable again.’ So there you go!”

Part of Alison’s new-found happiness is down to her relationship with film editor Lisa Gunning – who worked with her on the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy, to which Goldfrapp provided the original score.

She doesn’t talk about her sexuality today, although she did say in an interview with The Times recently that she refuses to be pigeonholed by her sexuality, and doesn’t recognise the term lesbian.

“I think of everything as being about a person and a relationship, and I am in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful person. It just happens to be with a lady. I’ve had some wonderful relationships with men, too,” was her response.

Normally Goldfrapp take around a year on each album, which includes writing, recording, mixing and mastering. It’s not a long time at all, but Head First came about in six months. In the middle of the sessions for the album came Nowhere Boy, which, rather than prove a distraction slap bang in the middle of the recording, helped matters.

“We really felt like we were on a roll. I did think, ’What have we done?’ when we’d agreed to do it, but it was actually incredibly productive,” she says.

“It was really great to come back to the album with fresh ears having done something so different.

“The process of doing a soundtrack is so completely different to doing an album, it’s not really even comparable, and they’re not related, which is why it was easier to do it in the middle of the album.”

In their 10-year career, Alison says the band have been approached a number of times about film soundtracks and, aside from editing their songs for a film called My Summer Of Love, have always turned them down due to timing or the nature of the project.

With a new album out, released almost 10 years after their debut, Alison is naturally thinking about how things have changed for her and the band since then.

“I hoped the first album wouldn’t be the last,” she says. “Well that was certainly the idea. I didn’t think I’d get here, to five albums, but it’s been surprises all the time.

“I’ve definitely changed quite a lot, too,” she says. “I was really shy 10 years ago – I’m pretty shy now, but I was really shy then, really nervous.”

It might come as a shock to some to hear that Alison, so extrovert on stage, is shy in real life.

“I don’t particularly enjoy the misconceptions about me or our music, although I think a lot of people think I’m going to be difficult and awkward when they meet me, and I quite like that,” she says with a giggle. “But as for being shy, I think a lot of performers are – actors, performers, artists.

“I think a lot of us are acting, it’s a very common thing.”

Head First, Goldfrapp's fifth album is out now.

GOLDFRAPP – EXTRA TIME

Alison Goldfrapp was born in Enfield, North London, and grew up in Alton, Hampshire. Will Gregory was born in Bristol.

Alison was in various bands during the late Eighties, and made some of her first recordings with dub band Dreadzone in 1993, and later with dance act Orbital and trip hop star Tricky.

Goldfrapp formed in 1999 after Will heard one of Alison’s recordings and asked to meet her with a view to working on a film soundtrack. That project never came to fruition, but the pair decided to form a band as they had gotten on so well.

The band’s debut album Felt Mountain was released in 2000, and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.

 
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