Alison Goldfrapp isn’t afraid of labels


Gays have always been into Goldfrapp because Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory‘s disco-laced electro-pop is inherently our kind of music. It’s innovative and fun — you’ve at least heard “Ride a White Horse.” Or maybe you’ve only heard of them from The L Word episode they guested on, where Jenny wanted Allison to play Jessie because of her sexy stage performance. (It didn’t work out.)

This year, Alison started dating a woman (film editor Lisa Gunning) and a UK paper placed a photo of her with her partner in a piece on lesbians who come out later in life. Alison talked with about suddenly dealing with a label, her new album, Head First, and how she showed up on the Sapphic Showtime series. I want to start off with a question from a reader on AfterEllen. We seem to have a huge fan base of yours on the site. A lot of people are curious how your stage show is going to be this time with Head First. It’s such a different sound. Is there anything you have planned special for the tour and album?

Alison Goldfrapp:
We’re putting the band together now. We’re going to be doing TV this month. The band, most of us, have been together for some time now, so we’ve got to be quite good friends. We’ve got a new drummer. We’re just putting it together now, so I’m still forming ideas and thinking about visuals, so I can’t really tell you. [laughs] It’ll be exciting and we’ll put on a show.

AE: Is there a concept or theme surround Head First as whole?

Not in a very specific way. We wanted to do something that was up, and direct, and celebratory. A lot of the songs have this sort of up feeling to them. That was the main inspiration, really. The visuals are sort of bright, but there wasn’t a specific theme.

AE: It seems like people really love the covers you do of songs. How do you choose which songs you’d like to cover?

Well, we haven’t done a cover for a very long time, actually, but it’s fun to choose something that’s maybe completely different from what you would write. That’s the fun of it, that you can take something and put a whole different slant on it. I guess it’s a bit like when somebody does a remix. It’s taking something and shuffling it around to give it a whole different angle. For instance, with “Physical,” we just slowed it right down, made it much more soft.

AE: Do you think you’ll do any more in the future?

I really don’t know. It’s a spontaneous thing, really. We’re certainly not planning them, but you never know.

AE: You were on The L Word a couple of years back. How did you get involved with the show?

We just got asked. God, that was fantastic. I really, really enjoyed that. We all did. It was so amazing. The people there really looked after us, and it was really relaxed and fun. Yeah, we had a wonderful time.

AE: You’ve recently had some issues, I guess I could say, with the media sort of taking a hold of your relationship and putting their own spin on your sexuality. Were you out at the time when you were on The L Word?

[laughs] Out. [laughs] Sorry. No. [laughs] I had a boyfriend at that time.

AE: Is this a new thing for you to be written about in this way, that people can decide to give you a label? Have you seen yourself described as a lesbian without you actually having said those things?

I’m currently fine with it. It was a new thing because I’ve never talked about my private life, and I’ve never had that. It was also the first time that I was being talked about outside of the context of music. In a way, it’s actually been quite interesting talking about it. It’s all fine.

AE: Do you think your music is inspired at all by your sexuality or is it completely separate?

Wow. Whoa. I don’t think I can say it’s completely separate, but I think music is genderless. It’s definitely been inspired by sex, whether it’s men or women. [laughs] I don’t know. That’s interesting. If it has been, it’s been an unconscious thing.

AE: Did you write any songs about your girlfriend on this album?

Aha! [laughs] I’m not going to give that away.

AE: What generally inspires you in songwriting? Is it things that have happened to you in real life or is it sort of a fantasy type of thing?

It’s such a difficult thing to articulate, really. I think on this particular album, I wanted to write lyrics that felt very celebratory. That’s how I felt at that time. I often mix fantasy things alongside everyday experiences. It’s a combination of the two. Sometimes a song starts with a lyric, sometimes it starts with a melody. There’s no kind of rules about how a song starts.

AE: When it comes to Head First specifically, was there a sound you were going for or something new you wanted to try?

In other things we’ve done, I think the lyrics have been more ambiguous. I wanted to make something kind of similar to [?], but with a warmer sound. I don’t think I’ve ever written songs that were so direct before. “Voicething,” for instance, at the end of the album, I’m really interesting in vocals and chords, and I wanted to do something that was just voice, music, texture, and a rhythm. Every album, it’s always fun to try out something new and push things. We don’t have a formula, as such, so we’re always trying out new things.

AE: What is your hope for the album? Do you have a goal for it or was it just an artistic thing that you wanted to put out there for the world?

It’s always something that we want to put out there, but it would be lovely if it was successful and people liked it. I’m really looking forward to playing the album live. That’s something I’m really excited about.

Head First is out now.

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