She’s milked a miked-up cow on stage while yodelling, sung with Tricky and performed with Orbital. Now ALISON GOLDFRAPP is getting back to nature. Words: Ruth Hedges
ltis is tlte tettth time I‘ve tried to speak to Alison
(ioldfrapp in tltc last couple of day s. and ttow the hotel
where she's staying itt Amsterdam is telling ttte she's checked otit. Shit. After tto answer at scheduled interview times. attd witlt procrastinations such as ‘she's rttnning a bit late'. tltc latest news isn't endearing me to the singer w ell- known for lter IL‘IIIIX‘I'iIlIICIIlitI ways. When at last tltcy track lter down attd tlte call goes tltrough. lter reply to tlte opening: ‘IIow arc yoti'." is a weary-sotindiitg: ‘l ltiitg over.’
Iiscellent it just gets better.
(loldfi‘al‘lt. the Cbonyittotisly named hand of which Alison is half. together with foritter lilitt-score writer Will (iregoi'y. ltave just started touring tlteir second album. lilac/t ('lit'rry' attd were [wrforming itt tltc Dutch capital last nigltt. Still. at least lter answer's fairly rock'n'roll. And as it turns otit. tlte sore head is a blessing itt disguise.
(ioldfl‘ttpp captured tltc imagination of a nation iit lellll witlt their lirst album. l'i'l! .Ilotuiltiiii. recorded in a cottage on
tlte edge of a Wiltshire valley. liach track conjures a kiitd of
di‘cantscaik‘. tingling iii sensuality attd anticipation. witlt Alison's incredible voice raising the hairs on tlte back of your neck tlte snowy woodland scene on the inside cover reflects its lonely ntagic. And if none of this helps. you will definitely kttow otte of tlte tracks front (where else‘.’i an ad a ()iie2( )nc
caiitpaign. featuring tlte wild west-style w ltistliitg of
(ioldfi'app‘s ‘l .ovcly IIead'.
Bttt w itlt the release of Black ('lierrv tltittgs are a-changing. The snow ltas melted and a warnter front is moving itt. Datttn it. it‘s ltot in there. Alison’s entrancing vocals again lure you iit. btit there's passion. rltythm. aggression and tire beltind them. Aitd to be ltonest. it sounds like someone's been enjoying tlte union of body and soul. A lot. ‘I think tlte directness of this albtiitt is a result of my personal life changing] Alisott hints. ‘l was haying ftiit.’
Did she fall iit love'.’ ‘Mmmmmmmtn. I'm not going to say.'
Btit good tintes‘.’ ‘Yes. delinitely.’
This is as far as she will go. but by the coy ncss aitd hints. I
think we cart take it that this album is an expression of
sotttething lite-changing for Alison (ioldft’app. It has tlte same sexual excitement as some of Bjork's songs botlt singers write attd sing with an honesty that comes from sotttewherc deep down. ‘l‘m itot very good at hiding ttty feelings] Alison says as something of an understatement. 'I wear my heart on my sleeve. If you‘d seen tis after the gig last night it would have beett ine screaming my head off iii the dressing room attd throwing things around.’
For the moment. though. she seems happy to talk about
pretty much anything. as if the hattgover has stripped her of
her defences. So let's start with the video for their current single. "I‘raiit'. It features people dancing attd cavortiitg iii great stag heads. a woman shakes her breasts. sending tassels spinning madly. while the song's heavy beat drives the anarchic erotica. Where's all this sexual-annual energy cotne
frotn‘.’ ‘l‘nt fascinated by the history of animals. and symbolism. attd mythology. aitd metamorphosis. attd humans wanting to be like animals attd humans wanting animals to be like humans. aitd otir whole idea of what's natural and what isn’t itatural.’ Alisoit says. warming to the animal theme as I'm warming to her (as art art student she milked a miked-up cow oit stage while yodelling: ‘lt bloody kicked me!’) . ‘I suppose for me animals ltave a kind of magic about them. Nature and animals are the only thing that still have a lot of mystery. Whereas sometimes I think in the everyday. life seems so fucking banal aitd void of fantasy.‘
And it is this word — fantasy —- you begin to realise. that is crucial to everything (ioldfrapp. and particularly Alison. are about. They want tttore than the mundane ~ the restrictive. rational. material rules of life. It is imaginative worlds. whether itt relation to nature. dattce. sex. the heart or the soul that are the places they want to create and inhabit. So. ()K. we catt forgive Alison for the tninute for ttot adhering to the boring little rules of normal life like answering your phone when you say you will.
()n l'k'll .Ilotuimin the fantasy was cosmic. reflective- sottttdiitg: on Black Cherry. it has a more playful edge. ‘I would ltave gone absolutely barking mad if we‘d done another album like I’d! .Ilotmrui/t. that was like no beats and intense aitd slow.‘ she says. ‘We've always been interested in disco attd electronic music and. to be honest. after touring for a year and ltalf with I-k'll .I’Iullllfufll I felt really claustrophobic and really longed sometimes to break out.‘
Attd break otit they ltave. Disco aitd glamour are a big part of Black ('lit'njv and. along with animals. are what gets Alison going this morning. ‘It‘s the theatrical parts of it — both musically and visually.‘ she says on the appeal of disco. "I‘he early soul and Itish string arrangements and big. epic. aitthentic songs. You know. it could be really melancholic btit you cotild still dance to it and they had lyrics. they were these huge numbers. fantasy aitd theatricalness . . . and I'm just really drawn to that kind of thing.‘
Has she always been'.’ ‘()h (iod. yeah. When I was little. anything with big numbers and big frocks and big shoes aitd singing attd dancing. you know - Busby Berkeley to Iiarth Wind aitd I-‘ire'.
You cart just imagine it. the little girl in mum‘s stilettos. whirling attd stomping around the sitting room to ‘Boogie \\'onderland‘. The passion. the dramatics are still there — it’s what makes Alison (ioldfrapp so compelling. and why the tantrums won't go away. Btit. if she keeps making music like this. who cares -— shine on. you crazy disco-nature-loving diaittond. Just answer your bloody phone once in a while.
()h. arid the title track is one of the most beautiful songs of recent times.
Goldfrapp plays as part of the One in Four Festival at QMU, Glasgow, Wed 28 May. Black Cherry is out now.
'DID I FALL IN LOVE? MMMMMM, I'M NOT GOING
22 May—f; JUN 2007: WE LIST 13