Alison Goldfrapp

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Alison Goldfrapp
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Goldfrapp performing at the Royal Festival Hall in 2018
Background information
Birth nameAlison Elizabeth Margaret Goldfrapp
Born (1966-05-13) 13 May 1966 (age 52)
Enfield, London, England
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • piano
  • tambourine
  • synthesiser
Years active1989–present
Labels
Associated actsGoldfrapp
Websitegoldfrapp.com

Alison Elizabeth Margaret Goldfrapp[2] (born 13 May 1966) is an English musician and record producer, best known as the lead vocalist of the electronic music duo Goldfrapp.

Early life[edit]

Alison Goldfrapp was born in 1966 in Enfield, London, the youngest of six children.[3] Her mother was a nurse.[3] Her father, Nick, had been an army officer, and worked in advertising. Goldfrapp's surname is of German origin, and she has German ancestry through her father.[4] While Goldfrapp was growing up, her family moved frequently, eventually settling in Alton, Hampshire, where Goldfrapp attended the independent Alton Convent School. She sang in a choir at the school and has said that she loved being in a school with nuns.[5] However she was forced to leave at age 12 due to failing the senior exam, and attended the local comprehensive school, Amery Hill School. She moved to London aged 16. At 24 years old, she attended Middlesex University where she studied fine art and mixed media.

Career[edit]

Goldfrapp performing live, 2010

In 1994 she featured on the Orbital album Snivilisation and also recorded songs "The Good" and "The Bad" with trip reggae outfit Dreadzone, for their 'best of' album The Best of Dreadzone – The Good The Bad and the Dread. Performing with them live resulted in two songs on the limited edition Performance album released in 1994.[6] In the same year Goldfrapp featured on trip hop artist Tricky's 1995 song "Pumpkin" and collaborated with Stefan Girardet on two songs on the soundtrack to the 1995 film The Confessional.

Goldfrapp was introduced to composer Will Gregory in 1999 after he had listened to her vocal contribution for "Pumpkin". Alison Goldfrapp then formed Goldfrapp with Will Gregory in 1999 and subsequently signed to Mute Records.

The pair began recording their debut album over a six-month period, beginning in September 1999, in a rented bungalow in the Wiltshire countryside.[7]. The band's debut album Felt Mountain was released in 2000 and featured Goldfrapp's synthesized vocals over cinematic soundscapes.[8]

Goldfrapp released their second album Black Cherry in 2003. The band recorded the album in Bath, England.[9] The album focused more heavily on dance music and glam rock-inspired synths than its predecessor.[10] Black Cherry peaked at number nineteen on the UK Albums Chart[11] and sold 52,000 copies in the US.[12] Supernature, Goldfrapp's third album, was released in 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. It has sold one million copies worldwide[13] and earned the duo two nominations at the 2007 Grammy Awards for Best Electronic/Dance Album and Best Dance Recording for the song "Ooh La La".[14] Seventh Tree, Goldfrapp's fourth album, was released in 2008 and debuted at number two on the UK Albums Chart.[11] The album is a departure from the pop and electronic dance music featured on Supernature, featuring 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.[15]

In 2009 she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music degree by the University of Portsmouth.[16]

Goldfrapp have released seven albums, most recently 'Silver Eye' in 2017. Hits include 'Strict Machine', 'Ooh La La', 'Lovely Head' and 'A&E'. The multi-platinum selling band have been nominated for the Mercury Prize, multiple Grammy Awards and won an Ivor Novello for 'Strict Machine'.

Goldfrapp have also scored the soundtracks to the films 'My Summer of Love' and 'Nowhere Boy'.

In recent years, Alison has dedicated more time to her role as a photographer and director. She created and photographed the album artwork for Silver Eye and directed videos for singles ‘Systemagic’, ‘Everything is Never Enough’ and ‘Ocean’.

Artistry[edit]

Voice[edit]

"Goldfrapp's voice—ethereal, otherworldly, but always human—remains a constant variable, the cord that connects all of Goldfrapp's disparate, but equally captivating, incarnations."

—Sal Cinquemani, of Slant Magazine describing Goldfrapps's voice in a review for Head First.[17]

Goldfrapp possesses an expansive soprano vocal range.[3][18] She is also noted for her operatic abilities, particularly on the group's debut album Felt Mountain and prominently on the songs "Utopia" and "Pilots"; her delivery in a more contemporary voice has been described as "breathy", "sultry", "ethereal" and "startling".[19][20]

Goldfrapp performing as part of the Wireless Festival, London 2006

Goldfrapp has also been commended for her vocal versatility, morphing her voice to fit various genres such as folk, pop, classical, dance, trip hop and electronica throughout her career.[21][22] Goldfrapp has also been noted for her use of a vocoder, altering her voice to fit the artistry of the material she is singing, such as in the songs "Lovely Head".[23] Vocally, Goldfrapp has been compared to Marlene Dietrich, Siouxsie Sioux, Björk,[24] Kate Bush and the Cocteau Twins.[25]

Compositions[edit]

Goldfrapp produces and writes most of her material alongside bandmate Will Gregory. She draws inspiration from a range of artists and musical genres. As a teenager she listened to Kate Bush, T. Rex, Donna Summer, Joan Jett, Marc Bolan, David Cassidy,[26] and Iggy Pop and The Stooges, and discovered Serge Gainsbourg while working in Belgium.[27] While travelling through Europe in the early 1990s, she also began listening to Polish disco music and cabaret music from the Weimar Republic.[27] Other media, including film, have influenced Goldfrapp who cites Roman Polanski's 1966 psychological thriller Cul-de-sac, the 1973 cult film The Wicker Man and the James Bond franchise as influences.[28][29] She also draws inspiration from surrealism and nature, all of which appear in Goldfrapp's album artwork, which she designs in collaboration with Big Active.[7] Goldfrapp believes that "music is a visual experience" and therefore visualises her lyrics before writing them. While writing, Goldfrapp uses her vocals to create melodies and drumbeats.[30] Her songwriting is characterised by its use of animals to describe human emotions and status.[31]

Public image[edit]

While touring in 2004, sections of the group's stage show featured Goldfrapp in a white dress wearing a horse tail and dancers with deer heads, which were inspired by her interest in animals and mythology.[32]

The artwork for Goldfrapp's album Seventh Tree featured her dressed as a Pierrot. Her new image, inspired by paganism, featured her dressed in white or natural-coloured flowing gowns with loose, curly blond hair.[33][34]

During 2010, Goldfrapp took on several new images once again, to fit with their then-forthcoming album Head First. The music on this album was more '80s-influenced, reflected in the artwork featured on the album's first single, "Rocket", which features Goldfrapp in a pink jumpsuit. For their live shows, she would wear spangly black leggings and a jacket covered in VHS tape which would be blown about by two electric fans placed at front centre-stage. The shine of the plastic reflected the colourful stage lighting.

In 2013, Alison was invited by The Lowry, Salford to curate an exhibition as part of their ‘Performer as Curator’ annual series. The exhibition was a collection of photography and paintings inspired by ideas of metamorphosis and fairytales

Personal life[edit]

Goldfrapp confirmed she was dating film editor Lisa Gunning in a February 2010 interview with The Sunday Times, but rejected being called a lesbian, saying, "I think of everything as being about a person and a relationship, and I am in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful person. It just happens to be with a lady... It's something I've thought about for a long time and it concurs with my philosophy on life and sexuality. I don't think it can or should be pigeonholed. I've thought about this since I was a teenager. I've always found it claustrophobic to think about having to put things into categories like that. My sexuality is the same as my music and my life. Why does it need a label?"[35] All of Goldfrapp's relationships before her relationship with Gunning were with men. [36]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bishop, Tom (10 February 2004). "Goldfrapp cherry-picked for Brit". BBC News. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  2. ^ "ASCAP ACE – Search Results". American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Archived from the original on 23 May 2011. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Benson, Richard (2 February 2008). "Alison Goldfrapp: ethereal girl". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  4. ^ Farndale, Nigel (24 August 2010). "Alison Goldfrapp interview". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  5. ^ "An interview with Alison Goldfrapp – Electronic Beats". Electronicbeats.net. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Dread Zone* - Performance". Discogs. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  7. ^ a b Simpson, Dave (4 May 2001). "Interview with Alison Goldfrapp". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  8. ^ "Once Upon A Time on Felt Mountain". Mute Records.
  9. ^ "Goldfrapp: Black Cherry (Mute)". Archived from the original on 27 August 2007.
  10. ^ Hermann, Andy (2 May 2003). "Goldfrapp: Black Cherry". PopMatters. Retrieved 15 June 2007.
  11. ^ a b "Chart Stats – Goldfrapp". The Official Charts Company. Chart Stats. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2008.
  12. ^ Caulfield, Keith (3 August 2006). "Ask Billboard: 'Gold'finger". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Archived from the original on 2 February 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  13. ^ "Goldfrapp Radio". goldfrapp.com. Archived from the original on 12 February 2007. Retrieved 29 May 2007.
  14. ^ "49th Annual GRAMMY Awards winners list". Grammy Awards. The Recording Academy. Archived from the original on 6 January 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2007.
  15. ^ Ayers, Michael D. (10 December 2007). "Goldfrapp Quiets Down On 'Seventh Tree'". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Archived from the original on 12 January 2008. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
  16. ^ "Honorary Graduates |". University of Portsmouth. Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  17. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (10 March 2010). "Goldfrapp – Head First Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  18. ^ Gittins, Ian (27 November 2011). "Goldfrapp – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  19. ^ Gill, Jaime (1 February 2012). "Goldfrapp – The Singles review". BBC. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  20. ^ Murphy, John (6 February 2012). "Goldfrapp The Singles – review". MusicOMH. Archived from the original on 29 September 2012. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  21. ^ Gittins, Ian (27 November 2011). "Goldfrapp – Live Review". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  22. ^ Phares, Heather (September 2009). "Goldfrapp – Felt Mountain Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  23. ^ Hermann, Andy (30 November 2001). "Goldfrapp: Analysis". PopMatters. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  24. ^ LeMay, Matt (19 September 2000). "Goldfrapp Felt Mountain". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  25. ^ Murphy, John (25 February 2008). "Goldfrapp – Seventh Tree review". MusicOMH. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  26. ^ "Goldfrapp: Why they're not your average pop group | Features | Culture". The Independent. 2005-10-29. Retrieved 2015-12-22.
  27. ^ a b Patterson, Sylvia (4 September 2005). "Glam Slam". The Sunday Herald. goldfrapp.free.fr. Retrieved 15 June 2007.
  28. ^ Micallef, Ken (17 December 2000). "Whips, Wolves, & Tricky". Yahoo! Music. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  29. ^ Stubbs, Dan. "In the Studio: Twiddling the Knobs This Month: Goldfrapp". Q. Bauer Media Group.
  30. ^ Gallant, Michael (February 2006). "Retro Disco Ooh La La". Keyboard Magazine. Archived from the original on 6 February 2009. Retrieved 24 June 2007.
  31. ^ Grow, Kory. "British electro-duo Goldfrapp evens out the odds with their latest, Supernature". College Music Journal. Archived from the original on 12 July 2006. Retrieved 12 June 2007.
  32. ^ "Interview with Alison Goldfrapp". BBC Music. BBC. 29 June 2004. Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  33. ^ Welch, Andy (27 October 2008). "It's not all glitz for Goldfrapp". Chester Chronicle. Retrieved 1 December 2008.
  34. ^ Rogers, Jude (25 January 2008). "Manure rather than manicure". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 1 December 2008.
  35. ^ Flynn, Paul (28 February 2010). "Alison Goldfrapp walks alone". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
  36. ^ Farndale, Nigel (24 August 2010). "Alison Goldfrapp interview". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Retrieved 10 November 2013.

External links[edit]