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Alison Goldfrapp performing at the Wireless Festival in June 2006
Alison Goldfrapp performing at the Wireless Festival in June 2006
Background information
Origin London, England
Genre(s) Electronica
Trip hop
Years active 1999–present
Label(s) Mute, EMI, Virgin
Alison Goldfrapp
Will Gregory

Goldfrapp is a British electronic music group known for their visual theatrics and contribution to the popularization of electronic dance music.[1] The band was formed in 1999 in London, England, and consists of Alison Goldfrapp (vocals/synthesizer) and Will Gregory (synthesizer).

Despite favourable reviews and a shortlisting for the Mercury Prize, the ambient sound of their 2000 debut album Felt Mountain did not chart highly.[2][3] Goldfrapp's second album Black Cherry, which incorporated electroclash sounds into their music, was released in 2003. The album experienced success across nightclubs in North America and influenced the same electroclash experience of their third album Supernature.[4] Supernature took Goldfrapp's work further into dance music, and enjoyed international chart success.[2][5] Supernature produced three number one US dance singles, and was nominated for "Best Electronic/Dance Album" at the 49th Grammy Awards.[6] Their most recent album, Seventh Tree, was released in 2008.


[edit] History

[edit] Formation (1999)

Alison Goldfrapp began her musical career in the early 1990s as a guest vocalist with the electronic band Orbital and trip hop artist Tricky.[7] In 1999, she was introduced to composer Will Gregory after he had listened to an early version of the song "Human". Gregory felt a connection with Goldfrapp and invited her to record a demo for the film soundtrack he was composing, to see if they could work together.[8] The demo was never completed, but the recording session had been pleasant. Following several months of phone calls, they decided to form a musical band and began performing under Goldfrapp's last name.[8]

In August 1999, Goldfrapp signed a recording contract with London-based record label Mute Records.[9] The pair began recording their debut album over a six-month period, beginning in September 1999, in a rented bungalow in the Wiltshire countryside.[9] The recording process was difficult for Alison, who often found herself alone and disturbed by the mice and insects in the bungalow.[9]

[edit] Felt Mountain (2000-2002)

Goldfrapp's debut album Felt Mountain was released in September 2000 and featured the singles "Lovely Head", "Utopia", "Pilots (On a Star)" and "Human". The album featured Alison Goldfrapp's synthesized vocals over cinematic soundscapes[10] and is influenced by a variety of music styles including cabaret, folk, and electronic music.[11] The album was well received by music critics, described as "simultaneously smarmy and seductive, yet elegant and graceful".[12] It reached number fifty-seven on the UK albums chart,[2] and was certified gold.[13] In 2001, Felt Mountain was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize, an annual music prize awarded for the best British or Irish album from the previous year.[3]

The lyrics on Felt Mountain were written by Alison Goldfrapp and are abstract obsessional tales inspired by films, her childhood, and the loneliness she felt while recording the album.[9] The song "Oompa Radar" was inspired by Roman Polanski's film Cul-de-Sac, while "Pilots", which describes travelers floating in the atmosphere above the earth, was inspired by John Barry's James Bond theme songs.[7]

To promote Felt Mountain, Goldfrapp toured the UK, Europe and North America, supporting the alternative music bands Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and The Doves. The band found it difficult to perform songs from the album live because of their complex arrangements which required up to forty musicians. They eventually settled on performing with violinist Davide Rossi, drummer Rowan Oliver and keyboardist Andy Davies. However, Gregory was unhappy with this arrangement, wanting to remain as close to the sound of the album as possible.[14]

[edit] Black Cherry (2003-2004)

Alison Goldfrapp wearing a horse tail while performing in October 2003.

Goldfrapp's second album Black Cherry was released in April 2003. The band recorded the album in a darkened studio in Bath, England. The studio's walls were covered in neon lights and Goldfrapp used them to write down her song ideas.[15] The album focused more heavily on dance music and glam rock inspired synths than its predecessor.[16] Alison Goldfrapp commented that the album differed from Felt Mountain because the band "felt that we really didn't want to repeat what we had done...we kind of wanted to do something that felt equally as fresh to us as the first one felt fresh to us, and we wanted to put more kind of "oomph" in it."[17] The album received positive reviews from critics, who found it to be an "unexpected delight"[18] and a "rare electronica album of warmth and depth...the ultimate chillout pleasure".[19] Black Cherry peaked at number nineteen on the UK albums chart and number four on the Billboard Top Electronic Albums chart in the United States.[20][5] It sold well, reaching platinum status in the UK[21] and selling 52,000 copies in the US.[22]

The first single released from the album was "Train", which reached number twenty-three on the UK singles chart.[2] The song's lyrics discuss obsession and overindulgence and were inspired by Goldfrapp's visit to Los Angeles while touring in support of Felt Mountain.[17] "Strict Machine" was released as the album's second single. The song proved successful on several formats, and reached number one on the US Hot Dance Club Play chart.[23] In 2004, "Strict Machine" won an Ivor Novello Award for "Best Dance Single".[24] The third single released from Black Cherry was "Twist", a song inspired by a sexual fantasy Goldfrapp had as a teenager.[17] The title track was released as the album's fourth single and reached number twenty-eight in the UK.[20]

In 2003, Alison Goldfrapp modified her image, from a sophisticated Marlene Dietrich inspired look to that of a New Wave diva.[25] The reinvented image included false eyelashes, customized T-shirts, military uniforms and fishnet stockings.[26] In 2004, the band toured Australia, Japan, Europe and North America supporting Duran Duran,[27] and embarked on the Wonderful Electric Tour. Sections of the stage show featured Goldfrapp in a white dress wearing a horse tail and dancers with deer heads, and were inspired by Goldfrapp's interest in animals and mythology.[28]

[edit] Supernature (2005-2006)

Supernature, Goldfrapp's third album, was released in August 2005. The album comprises pop and electronic-dance music prominently featured on Black Cherry, but focuses more on subtle hooks instead of the large choruses that made up its predecessor. The band never intended to create dance music, however, previous releases were popular across nightclubs in North America and as a result, they decided to write a more dance-oriented album. Supernature debuted at number two on the UK albums chart, selling 52,000 copies in its first week.[29] It has sold one million copies worldwide[30] and was certified platinum in the UK.[31] The album received a Grammy Award nomination in 2007 for "Best Electronic/Dance Album" and "Ooh La La" was nominated for "Best Dance Recording".[6]

"Ooh La La", the album's lead single, became Goldfrapp's first UK top five single.[20] The song was chosen as the lead single "because it was up and in your face and carried on the theme of the glammy, discoey beat from the last album".[32] "Ooh La La" became the first song performed by the band to feature the electric guitar[4] and was often cited as a highlight of the album by music critics.[33] "Number 1" was released as the album's second single. Constructed around a synthesizer and bass arrangement, it was written about the importance of relationships.[34] The album's third single "Ride a White Horse" was inspired by the disco era[35] and reached number fifteen in the UK.[20] "Fly Me Away" was released as the album's fourth single, but did not perform as well as its predecessors.[20]

Goldfrapp performing live in 2008.

In 2006, Goldfrapp released We Are Glitter, a North American-only compilation of remixes from Supernature. It included a Flaming Lips remix of "Satin Chic", the band's favourite song from the album.[36]

[edit] Seventh Tree (2007-2008)

Goldfrapp began writing and recording their fourth album at the end of 2006 in Bath, England. Alison Goldfrapp described their winter recording sessions as difficult. However, spring recording sessions brought them more favourable results.[37] Seventh Tree, their fourth album, was released in February 2008,[38] and debuted at number two on the UK albums chart.[20] The album is a departure from the pop and electronic-dance music featured on Supernature, and features ambient and downtempo music. The band were inspired by an acoustic radio session they had performed, which led the duo to incorporate acoustic guitars into their music to create "warm" and "delicate" sounds.[39]

The album's lead single, "A&E", reached number ten in the UK.[2] The single received positive reviews from critics, who found it to be "a beautifully paced ballad"[40] and "lush, folky and organic".[41] "Happiness", the album's second single, reached number twenty-five in the UK.[2] The third single, "Caravan Girl", describes the story of a girl that suffers from amnesia, reached number fifty-four in the UK.[42][20]

In 2008, Alison Goldfrapp again reinvented her image, this time as an androgynous circus performer. The artwork for Seventh Tree featured her dressed as a clown because it is an "iconic image" with "so many different connotations".[43] Goldfrapp chose to tone down her overtly sexual image because she felt that it was taking over the music. Her new image, inspired by paganism, featured her dressed in white or natural-coloured flowing gowns with loose, curly blond hair.[44][45]

[edit] Musical style

Although Goldfrapp's musical style has changed over time, they are considered to be an electronic music band. Goldfrapp has explored a range of musical styles in their songs, although many songs are characterized by Alison Goldfrapp's distinctive breathy, soft vocals and Will Gregory's multi-layered synthesizer and string arrangements.[1] The band's sound has progressed from an ambient sound in Felt Mountain, through electronic music in Black Cherry to a more glam rock sound in Supernature, and most recently to a blend of ambient, folk, and electronic in Seventh Tree. However, they have experimented with other genres of music, such as cabaret ("Satin Chic"), electroclash ("Slide In", "Koko"), folk ("Clowns") and bossa nova ("Human").

Goldfrapp draws inspiration from a range of artists and genres. Alison Goldfrapp listened to T.Rex, Donna Summer and Iggy Pop as a teenager and discovered Serge Gainsbourg while working in Belgium.[46] While traveling through Europe in the early 1990s, she also began listening to Polish disco music and cabaret music from the Weimar Republic.[46] Will Gregory's musical background was classical music and has cited Ennio Morricone as his main influence.[8] Other media, including film, have had an impact on Goldfrapp; Alison Goldfrapp cites Roman Polanski's psychological thriller Cul-de-Sac, the cult film The Wicker Man, and the James Bond franchise as influences.[7][47] They also draw inspiration from surrealism and nature, all of which appear in the band's album artwork, which Goldfrapp designs in collaboration with Big Active.[9]

The majority of band's songs are composed by Goldfrapp and Gregory, although they have collaborated with session musician Nick Batt several times. They have called their writing sessions a "democratic affair", playing off one another while in the recording studio.[4] However, Goldfrapp is responsible for the lyrics. While writing, Goldfrapp uses her vocals to create melodies and drumbeats.[48] Gregory composes his music on vintage keyboards, interpreting the mood of Goldfrapp's lyrics.[48] Alison Goldfrapp believes that "music is a visual experience" and therefore visualizes her lyrics before writing them. Her songwriting is characterized by its use of animals to describe human emotions and status.[4]

[edit] Discography

The current tour brought them to the Netherlands, Overijssel, and opening for the Dutch Rockband Normaal.

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b "Goldfrapp Biography". Mute Records. Retrieved 12 June 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "UK Top 40 Hit Database". Retrieved 8 January 2008. Note: User must define 'Artist Name' search parameter as "Goldfrapp".
  3. ^ a b "The Mercury Music Prize". Retrieved 12 June 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d Grow, Kory. "British electro-duo Goldfrapp evens out the odds with their latest, Supernature". College Music Journal. Retrieved 12 June 2007.
  5. ^ a b "Goldfrapp > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Retrieved 8 January 2008.
  6. ^ a b "2007 Grammy Award Nominations". Grammy Awards. Retrieved 12 June 2007.
  7. ^ a b c Micallef, Ken. "Whips, Wolves, & Tricky". Yahoo!. 17 December 2000. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  8. ^ a b c Flinn, Sean. "Scaling Felt Mountain". Choler Magazine. 25 January 2002. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  9. ^ a b c d e Simpson, Dave. "The Friday Interview". The Guardian. 4 May 2001. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  10. ^ "Once Upon a Time on Felt Mountain". Mute Records. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  11. ^ Phares, Heather. "Felt Mountain > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  12. ^ Matt LeMay. "Felt Mountain album review". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  13. ^ "Gold certification for Felt Mountain". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  14. ^ Sargeant, A.. "Felt Mountain". Crud Magazine. September 2001. Retrieved 15 June 2007.
  15. ^ "New Album Black Cherry". Mute Records. Retrieved 15 June 2007.
  16. ^ Hermann, Andy. "Review of Black Cherry". PopMatters. 2 May 2003. Retrieved 15 June 2007.
  17. ^ a b c "Beats & Lust". New Beats. April 2003. Retrieved 15 June 2007.
  18. ^ Petridis, Alexis. "Review of Black Cherry". The Guardian. 18 April 2003. Retrieved 15 June 2007.
  19. ^ May, Wes. "Review of Black Cherry". Retrieved 15 June 2007.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g "Chart Stats: Goldfrapp". Retrieved 1 December 2008.
  21. ^ "Black Cherry Certified Awards". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  22. ^ Caulfield, Keith. "Ask Billboard: 'Gold'finger". Billboard. 3 August 2006. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  23. ^ "US Billboard Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  24. ^ Poole, Lawrence. "Move Day 3: Goldfrapp Interview". Manchester Evening News. 8 July 2004. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  25. ^ Wilson Neate. "Girls Gone Wild". Dusted Magazine. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  26. ^ O'Connell, Sharon. "Strange Fruit". TimeOut London. 16 May 2003. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  27. ^ Sandall, Robert. "Cover Story: The Old Romantics". The Independent. 17 September 2001. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  28. ^ "Interview with Alison Goldfrapp". BBC. 29 June 2004. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  29. ^ "Week 34 Chart Roundup". 30 August 2005. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  30. ^ "Goldfrapp Radio". Retrieved 29 May 2007.
  31. ^ "Certified Awards for Supernature". British Phonographic Industry. 13 January 2006. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  32. ^ Van Den Boogert, Kate. "Ooh La La!". GoGo Paris. July-August 2005. Retrieved 30 May 2007.
  33. ^ Phares, Heather. "Supernature (Bonus Track) > Review". Allmusic. 7 March 2006. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  34. ^ "Goldfrapp Unleash Supernature". Rolling Stone. 7 March 2006. Retrieved 31 May 2007.
  35. ^ Timmermans, Arjan. "Interview with Goldfrapp". ArjanWrites. 9 December 2005. Retrieved 13 June 2007.
  36. ^ Supernature. North American DVD — "Little bits of Goldfrapp". Information about the recording of "Supernature". Retrieved 27 March 2006.
  37. ^ "Accidents & Emergency ". 18 December 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2008.
  38. ^ "Goldfrapp Seventh Tree (Mute)". Music Week. 5 November 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007
  39. ^ Ayers, Michael D. "Goldfrapp Quiets Down On 'Seventh Tree'". Billboard. 10 December 2007. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
  40. ^ Murphy, John. "Goldfrapp - A&E (Mute)". Retrieved 12 February 2008.
  41. ^ Levine, Nick. "Goldfrapp: 'A&E'". Digital Spy. 11 February 2008. Retrieved 12 February 2008.
  42. ^ Byloo, Vincent. "We're All Idiots". Focus Magazine. 20 February 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2008.
  43. ^ Papamarko, Sofi. "Conversations: Alison Goldfrapp". Exclaim!. October 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2008.
  44. ^ Welch, Andy. "It's not all glitz for Goldfrapp". Chester Chronicle. 27 October 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2008.
  45. ^ Rogers, Jude. "Manure rather than manicure". The Guardian. 25 January 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2008.
  46. ^ a b Patterson, Sylvia. "Glam Slam". The Sunday Herald. 4 September 2005. Retrieved 15 June 2007.
  47. ^ Stubbs, Dan. "In the Studio: Twiddling the Knobs This Month: Goldfrapp". Q. Retrieved 15 January 2008.
  48. ^ a b Gallant, Michael. "Retro Disco Ooh La La". Keyboard Magazine. February 2006. Retrieved 24 June 2007.

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