A Sit Down With DJ Goldfrapp

14:54 Dec/06/2017

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 don’t know that it’s cutthroat, I think it’s just the fact that there is so little protection for the freedom of movement of people’s music. Once it’s out there, it’s on everyone’s phones, it’s 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. I’m as guilty as the next person for listening to music on YouTube, and YouTube pays some tiny amount for music don’t they? So, we’re struggling, but at the same time it’s kind of brilliant because if you want to hear a piece of music from any time in recorded history it’s 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 I’m a private person, but I don’t think I am particularly private. I just think I’m not that interested in fame. I’ve 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. I’m not really very famous either, so it doesn’t really matter. I just don’t think about it very much. I just live my life. Your personal life always bleeds into your creative life, but it doesn’t have to be in obvious ways.

It’s been nearly four years since the last Goldfrapp record. At this point, how do you decide when it’s time to make something new? And what’s 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 that—working with a chorus of 13 women vocalists—which 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 didn’t 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 didn’t want to repeat ourselves. It took a while to get there, which is fine. Sometimes it takes a long time to get where you’re going.

Why do you think you’re 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, it’s a bit of a religion. It feeds the soul, and it’s a place to think, and a place to create, and to be in awe of, to find peace in. It’s kind of everything, really. I love being in the city as well, because it’s fun culturally, but it doesn’t give me the same sense of fulfilment.

Have there been times in the past when you haven’t liked an album before it’s come out?

Yes. I’m not going to say which one. You have such a particular relationship with music, and you’ve heard it so many times when you’ve 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 can’t wait to play it live. That’s the bit I’m really looking forward to. It’ll be fun to get up and play those kind of songs, especially alongside other songs from ‘Supernature’ and ‘Black Cherry’.

When you’re making something, it’s this very weird ground where you don’t want to be overly self-aware, but you are also mindful of this thing you are trying to make, this place you’re trying to get to, this sound you are trying to achieve and you’re always trying to get some balance between the two.

Once you get into the studio, it’s 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 didn’t 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 didn’t want to entirely give up my social life, my personal life. I didn’t 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. I’ve done that—been 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. 

You’re right, it’s a hybrid of a few things which is a nice feeling actually. It’s like: this is what we do. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that before actually, so that’s good.

What’s the significance of a silver eye?

It’s the moon! It’s a metaphor for the moon. What is ‘Silver Eye’? It’s 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 they’ve 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. They’ve been there on all the albums in varying degrees but it’s much more focused on this album.

You’ve spoken in the past about how you have to go away to write.

Fortunately, or unfortunately—I swing either way—we have a studio out in the countryside, and it’s a really great place to work. I like isolating myself, but it’s also a bit of a struggle sometimes because it’s not brilliant for one’s 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 don’t know, maybe they think, “Oh my god, don’t ask her, she’s the last person you want advice from.” No one ever asks me. I think I’d be a pretty good person to ask advice of. I’ve fucked up so many times, I think I’m probably quite good to tell people what not to do.


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