ABOVE: ALISON GOLDFRAPP. PHOTO COURTESY OF SERGE LEBLON
Tomorrow, Goldfrapp will release their first-ever Singles album. Don't worry, neither Will Gregory nor Alison Goldfrapp is retiring—they are simply recollecting. The album consists of Goldfrapp's most famous "hits" from their five previous albums, a decade worth of music, as well as two new, ethereal songs: "Melancholy Sky" and "Yellow Halo." Such a record invites retrospection on Goldfrapp's career. Indeed, it provides the perfect opportunity to trace Goldfrapp's musical evolution from sultry, almost languid, pop ("Lovely Head" and "Utopia") through more synth-heavy tunes ("Strict Machine" and "Ooh La La"), to their most recent releases, such as "Rocket," which begins like an ‘80s power pop ballad and, at least in the first 20 seconds, you can almost imagine Goldfrapp touring with Journey. No compendium of Goldfrapp is complete, however, without a mention of their stage aesthetic. Frontwoman Alison Goldfrapp's signature style—blonde Marlene Dietrich curls, exaggerated mascara, sequined bodices—dominated '00s fashion. Even Madonna, a Goldfrapp fan, has tried to appropriate Alison's look (according to British newspaper, The Telegraph, this it earned her the nickname, "Oldfrapp," which even we think is kind of mean.)
Notoriously press-shy Alison Goldfrapp was kind enough to answer a few questions for us on the eve of The Singles release.
EMMA BROWN: Has compiling a singles album filled you with nostalgia?
ALISON GOLDFRAPP: Not nostalgia exactly, but having to look back over past material and talking about it has forced an overview that maybe wouldn't have happened otherwise. I feel it's been a cathartic and positive process. I feel really good about moving on to pastures new.
BROWN: When you are releasing a new album, how do you decide which songs to release as singles—do you pick your favorites, or the songs that you think will be the most accessible?
GOLDFRAPP: It's so hard to pick a "single." I always want it to be whatever my favorite tune is, but often the record company and the person whose job it is to take it to radio have different ideas. Sometimes we end up having little battles on the subject!
BROWN: Can you tell me a bit about your new song "Yellow Halo"—what made you decide to shoot the video on an iPhone?
GOLDFRAPP: The lyric for "Yellow Halo" came to me when I was thinking about my mother. She died two summers ago, when I was on the Head First tour. I see the "Yellow Halo" as a happy and positive force. [Film editor] Lisa Gunning had the idea to document our tour in South America for the video. We were also on holiday together and travelling light, so the iPhone was the most practical and fun gadget to use.
BROWN: What is next for Goldfrapp?
GOLDFRAPP: We are writing new songs for a new album. I love the whole process of writing, particularly at the moment.
BROWN: How do you begin writing a new song?
GOLDFRAPP: When Will and I are in our studio, we muck around, jamming, improvising. We record everything and then listen back to hear if there is anything we like and use this as a starting point. Also, I have a notebook of ideas, images, lyrics etc. Anything is food for starting a song. A song can start with a lyric idea or a melody or just a sound that inspires.
BROWN: Some artists lament that people no longer listen to full albums, but only individual songs, and so the art of the album is lost. What is your opinion on this?
GOLDFRAPP: I think in some cases that may be true; however, I think an "album" in the traditional sense is still a really great thing, especially for the artist. It makes an artist think about a body of work. An album, for me, is not just a commercial product. It's about presenting a world to people, for them to explore and enjoy. How they do that is up to them.
BROWN: You mentioned that you recently cleaned out your Goldfrapp wardrobe—what did you decided to keep and what went in the bin?
GOLDFRAPP: Going through the Goldfrapp wardrobe was something I was dreading! My house was full of boxes, sprawled everywhere. But once I started, it was actually fun looking through everything again. I found a jock strap! It belonged to a drummer that played with us nearly 10 years ago. It went in the bin. I'm very fond of all the outfits from the Seventh Tree era, in particular. I found a few jumpsuits from the Supernature tour. I kept quite a lot really, including the horse heads, even though they are a bit battered now.
THE SINGLES COMES OUT TOMORROW.