Through pioneering electronics, crystalline vocals, visual theatrics and glam-sex decadence, for their new offering Supernature, they've moved through the ambient shadows into the technicolor thrill that is the hallmark of classic British pop music. After Felt Mountain (2000), their glacial, Mercury Award-nominated debut, the second album -- the Brit-nominated Black Cherry -- was the benchmark of 2003. Here was the sound and vision of Art-Pop-Now; the crack of Marlene Dietrich's stiletto on Donna Summer's back, a thundering, sweat-lashed, discotronic soundscape which spawned remix requests from both Franz Ferdinand and Marilyn Manson. Its two euphoric, electro-stomp anthems, "Train" and "Strict Machine" (and their eye-lasing videos) were that year's peak of adrenalised, class-pop cool.
As an English duo who write and produce everything together, the new album by Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory reflects their sound breaking through their own crash barrier, a strident, psychedelic, 100% uncompromising creative force at the top of their very own game. Theirs is a self-made, alternative reality in music, vision and soul. "We create our own, personalized environment," says Alison, "and it's more how bands or duos used to do it in the '70s or '80s, your own music, art directing your own sleeves, wearing your own clothes, which is unique compared to a lot of bands. Now, you might get people writing their own music, if that. And they'll have a whole entourage creating all the other stuff. I like being part of the eccentrics, people who've created everything themselves." "It's an alternative reality," says Will Gregory, "taking ourselves somewhere else and that's why we do it."
The rest of the world seems to enjoy the trip too. From the first blast of "Lovely Head" on Felt Mountain through to Black Cherry, their sound and vision has spread organically through every medium. Their music has appeared in Europe and America as the enigmatic soundtrack to a wide spectrum of film and TV. Since 2003, a Goldfrapp visual staple -- the use of animalistic imagery -- has spread throughout MTV (The duo received an MTV Europe Music Award nomination for "Best Alternative" act this year), London's Harvey Nichols window displays and even BMW ads, a nod to their live show spectaculars where dancers wear stag's heads and Alison shimmies her horses tail. "There's always been animals in there because I'm interested in nature and mythology," says Alison, "They're great metaphors for human emotions and ideas and have an unexplainable sensuality which is really attractive and mysterious."
They met in '99. "We checked each other out quite a lot before we endeavoured to make any sort of music," says Alison, "which was interesting because I'd always done it the other way around. You met in a room, didn't talk about it, just did it and it was all supposed to magically happen. But we were thorough about where we wanted to go and it wasn't about who was wearing a cool jacket or cool trainers or something absolutely fucking dull. These people who were supposed to be radical and cutting-edge were actually incredibly safe. It was about what kind of music you should be doing. Or shouldn't. It was 'you can't put strings in there because they're far too sentimental and romantic'. All these 'can'ts' because it wasn't cool. Very 90s."
Goldfrapp knew better than that. Long-term lovers of left field, widescreen, pan-European avant-garde, from Serge Gainsborough to 70s Polish disco, from Kate Bush to Prince, they refuse to be limited. Created near Bath where they both now live, Supernature continues their only theme of infinite possibility. "We rented a chintzy cottage in nowhere land," says Alison, "and just filled it with all the gear. But it's not Georgian glory, it's much more crusty than that, which is a good thing. It's more bushes and chintzy sofas. '70s Hoovers next to synthesizers. Amplifiers next to microwave ovens." Adds Will, "And bread-bins. There's a view, horses running around outside." Alison: "So in the midst of all the synthesizers there's probably a few lawnmowers and birds tweeting. We've made an electronic, glam cross between Berlin, New York and northeast Somerset."
Again they have created a landscape all their own. Breathe in deeply and let it fill you with colors, huge washes of electronics, machines that grow thorns and petals, passion blooming on a diet of synths and strings.
Notable recent happenings with Goldfrapp include the fall 2005 tour with Coldplay, their nomination for an MTV Europe Music Award as "Best Alternative Act," as well as several sold out performances including one at London's famed Brixton Academy. Other dates were in Poland and Serbia ("bonkers") and a particularly memorable night at The Scala, North London, at the capital's mythological 'gay indie' night, "Popstarz." "Absolutely insane," laughs Alison, "we weren't prepared for that at all, the audience were screaming so loud we couldn't actually hear ourselves so we had to tell them to stop! And the grand finale was I fell over at the end in a state of delirium. Fantastic. I've never experienced anything like it actually."
Goldfrapp found licensing success with Black Cherry. The song "Tiptoe" was featured in a national television and radio campaign for Diet Coke, and Nintendo Game Boy and Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP both used Black Cherry tracks in television and Internet advertising campaigns. Other noteworthy licenses for Black Cherry included track placement in the film A Cinderella Story and on television shows such as FOX's The O.C., HBO's Six Feet Under, CBS' C.S.I., NBC's Miss Match, and the WB's Charmed.
Tracks from Supernature have already been licensed to hit television shows such as Commander In Chief (ABC), Grey's Anatomy (ABC), Las Vegas (NBC), and NCIS (CBS).
Goldfrapp are going overground, taking their rightful place in today's musical landscape at the cutting edge of flashing-dancefloor pop creating brand new greatness and inspiring a generation. "We can't wait for the new record to come out now," says Alison, "because this time there's so much more. More drama, more color, more diversity, everything we love about what we do, just… more. Oooh, it's exciting!"
Goldfrapp Bio from Discogs
The duo consists of Alison Goldfrapp (vocals, synthesizer) and Will Gregory (synthesizer).