A Sit Down With DJ Goldfrapp
There is something shocking about Alison Goldfrapp. She's so tiny and nondescript. She wears no makeup, her legs are stick-thin, her face unremarkable but for the oversized mosquito shades. She carries two plastic bags. If you were told she slept in hostels or in the park you wouldn't be surprised.
In July 2015, Alison Goldfrapp announced on Twitter that the group had returned to the studio to work on music for the forthcoming seventh album, but as far as a release date she could only state it would be "sometime in 2017".On 23 December 2016 Goldfrapp posted an image of two topless figures holding each other's heads, with bleached blonde hair covering their faces, and a black substance slicked across their forearms, along with the hashtag #goldfrapp7. The social media upload was initially assumed to be the seventh album's cover art. This turned out not to be the case. The title of the album was confirmed as Silver Eye. The first track to be played from the album, titled "Anymore", was premiered on Lauren Laverne's BBC 6 Music show on 23 January 2017. Silver Eye was eventually released on March 31, 2017.
"If I am honest, I don't really care who is straight or who is gay. I hate to stereotype people. In the end, we're all sexual beings."
You spent most of your childhood growing up in an English market town called Alton. Did you find it a little stifling?
I hated it, absolutely hated it! As soon as I turned sixteen I left school and went to London.
Would you say the industry has become a little bit more cutthroat?
I dont know that its cutthroat, I think its just the fact that there is so little protection for the freedom of movement of peoples music. Once its out there, its on everyones phones, its getting sent around and, consequently, the whole element of live performance has become hugely more significant in the last 10-15 years because that is where people are able to reap the rewards of their work, because no-one is buying it anymore. Im as guilty as the next person for listening to music on YouTube, and YouTube pays some tiny amount for music dont they? So, were struggling, but at the same time its kind of brilliant because if you want to hear a piece of music from any time in recorded history its there under your fingers in seconds.
You are often described as a private person. Is it important to have a separation between your personal life and your creative life?
People often talk about how Im a private person, but I dont think I am particularly private. I just think Im not that interested in fame. Ive never courted that kind of thing. Somehow not chasing after fame is harder for people to understand than if I were desperately trying to be a celebrity. Im not really very famous either, so it doesnt really matter. I just dont think about it very much. I just live my life. Your personal life always bleeds into your creative life, but it doesnt have to be in obvious ways.
Its been nearly four years since the last Goldfrapp record. At this point, how do you decide when its time to make something new? And whats going on with you creatively in the interim?
We had a break after that last one, which was good for us. We were still working though. We went away and did the music for a play at the National Theatre. The piece was Medea, which is a Greek tragedy and very traditional, but was updated for this production. Carrie Cracknell was the director. We spent about a year doing thatworking with a chorus of 13 women vocalistswhich was great. It was wonderful to be doing something completely different and helps shake up the way you think about things when you go back to doing your own work. Then, we just took our time and we didnt rush into anything. And when we did get started, it took quite a while to get into the groove with it. We also took a while to think about what kind of sound we wanted to make, and as a result the process became much more electronic. We wanted to do something in a similar vein to Supernature or Black Cherry, but obviously didnt want to repeat ourselves. It took a while to get there, which is fine. Sometimes it takes a long time to get where youre going.
Why do you think youre so drawn to the countryside?
I was brought up to love it. My Dad was very, very keen on that. He really instilled in us that it was bigger than us, and therefore we should look after it and respect it. For me, its a bit of a religion. It feeds the soul, and its a place to think, and a place to create, and to be in awe of, to find peace in. Its kind of everything, really. I love being in the city as well, because its fun culturally, but it doesnt give me the same sense of fulfilment.
Have there been times in the past when you havent liked an album before its come out?
Yes. Im not going to say which one. You have such a particular relationship with music, and youve heard it so many times when youve been working on it, living it and breathing it, that sometimes it can feel a little daunting. But I feel good about this and I cant wait to play it live. Thats the bit Im really looking forward to. Itll be fun to get up and play those kind of songs, especially alongside other songs from Supernature and Black Cherry.
When youre making something, its this very weird ground where you dont want to be overly self-aware, but you are also mindful of this thing you are trying to make, this place youre trying to get to, this sound you are trying to achieve and youre always trying to get some balance between the two.
Once you get into the studio, its such an absorbing process. For me, no matter how you approach it, you very quickly find yourself living and breathing it. The experience and the process takes over. For this album I didnt want to do that quite as much because I have certainly done that before, just surrendered my life to it. This time I wanted to live a bit more, which is why I wanted to do it in London. I didnt want to entirely give up my social life, my personal life. I didnt want it to become a 24/7 thing for me. I got to go home at night to my own home and maybe go out to drink with a mate or spend time with my dog and my partner. Ive done thatbeen a hermit for a year or two years or however long it takes to make an album. I cannot do that again, really.
When you say those kind of songs, sonically Silver Eye fits in alongside Black Cherry and Supernature but there are definite touches of the heart and warmth of your more folky moments.
Youre right, its a hybrid of a few things which is a nice feeling actually. Its like: this is what we do. Im not sure Ive ever felt that before actually, so thats good.
Whats the significance of a silver eye?
Its the moon! Its a metaphor for the moon. What is Silver Eye? Its a hybrid of things to do with antropomorphism, mysticism, the elemental those are the themes of the album. Those are things that have been on Supernature, and theyve been there throughout really. I suppose with this album we go further into the idea of the elemental earth, fire, water and mysticism, Paganism to a certain degree, and dreaming. Theyve been there on all the albums in varying degrees but its much more focused on this album.
Youve spoken in the past about how you have to go away to write.
Fortunately, or unfortunatelyI swing either waywe have a studio out in the countryside, and its a really great place to work. I like isolating myself, but its also a bit of a struggle sometimes because its not brilliant for ones personal social life.
Speaking of advice, what do you tell aspiring musicians or young bands who are looking for ways to get their music into the world?
No one ever asks me for advice! I dont know, maybe they think, Oh my god, dont ask her, shes the last person you want advice from. No one ever asks me. I think Id be a pretty good person to ask advice of. Ive fucked up so many times, I think Im probably quite good to tell people what not to do.
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