Goldfrapp interview

Alison Goldfrapp, lead singer of the ever-changing eponymous pop troupe, tells Kim Taylor Bennett about fame, power and her love of freaky fashion


Despite creating synth-spangled, electro-glam hits tailor-made for a night under the glitterball, Alison – the honey-voiced, mercurial frontwoman of genre-spanning duo Goldfrapp – has been raring to go since 8am.
‘I love getting up early. Your environment doesn’t matter, it’s where you travel in your mind. Ha ha!’

Alongside long-time musical partner Will Gregory, Goldfrapp has returned to record stores with a fifth album, Head First, which eschews the introspection of 2008’s Seventh Tree for a lush and celebratory electropop joyride. It’s a brilliant album that reinforces Alison’s position as an icon from whom other ladies in the genre take their cue.

We hear you’re not a fan of the ’80s, even though your album is influenced by the era.
What I hated about the ’80s was that it was a pretty grim time for England – under [then-prime minister Margaret] Thatcher – and the fashion was pretty dire. The whole era had a bleak feel. Although at the same time it was over the top, with some great, alternative things going on. The things I liked as a kid were Prince and Grace Jones, this exciting, big music coming from America or Europe. A lot of music coming out of England just wasn’t my cup of tea.

You keep some pretty stellar company – do you get starstruck?
I’m always quite starstruck. The first time I met Madonna, I couldn’t actually get off the chair to shake her hand. It must have appeared really rude but it was because I was totally gobsmacked that she’d just walked in and made a beeline for me. I don’t think I actually managed to get any words out; I just sort of froze and grinned inanely.

After living in the British countryside for years, we hear you’re now back in London.
I love the countryside, but I always feel so much better being in London, around my friends. I love being able to walk out on the street and see every kind of person under the sun. London has the best sort of culture there is. You sometimes forget, but you have to remember and make the most of it.

When you’re trussed up in costume on stage, do you feel powerful?
Sometimes, and sometimes I feel quite vulnerable. But it’s fun, ultimately. That’s what you have to remember, and not take yourself so bloody seriously. I love clothes and I love the drama that they bring, the
visual elements; it’s all part of the storytelling of music.

You wear a lot of up-and-coming designers and you also design a lot of your stage attire. Would you consider doing a clothing line?
I’d love to do something like that, but I’m not sure if the public would be interested… you might be my only customer! It’s very homespun, I really enjoy what we do. It’s not a Lady Gaga budget, it’s all mucking in together.

Are you a Gaga fan?
She’s definitely taken the crown as the Queen of Pop. She’s the new Madonna, I think. Lady Gaga is passionate about what she does – it’s extreme and really good fun. Personally I think the clothes are a lot more interesting than the music. But who knows? She’s obviously really talented, so it’ll be interesting to see where her career goes. For someone so young to know what she wants to do is incredible. I think [her success] is also to do with timing: we all want something to escape to.
Head First is available now in stores.

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