Alison Goldfrapp is retiring glitter and stepping off the dance floor—at least for now. After 2006’s lusty breakthrough Supernature, the British chanteuse, who records as Goldfrapp with musical partner Will Gregory, was poised to sex-up the electronic music scene. Instead, she explains from a Paris hotel, she discovered acoustic guitars and even a 17th century harp, which decorates the shimmery “Road to Somewhere” on Seventh Tree, the band’s lovely, hazy fourth album. Surprising? Not exactly, for a band that has both mined burbling electronics and icy, cinematic canvases over the course of three disparate albums. This time, “we wanted to do something more intimate—with more warmth,” Goldfrapp explains about the sonic shift. It’s a stylistic departure, sure, but Seventh Tree is as stylized as anything Goldfrapp has recorded.
BLACKBOOK: This is a very sensual record. Do you think about projecting a sexual image when you’re performing?
ALISON GOLDFRAPP: I don’t think about very much while I’m singing apart from going into as much of a zen-like space as I can. But because [the sound] is more intimate—and more obviously personal—the music is more delicate. On that level, it becomes quite sensual because the voice is close to the microphone.
BB: You’ve said images really inspire your songwriting. For this album, you’ve adopted circus imagery. Where did that come from? AG: It came out of one of the songs being called “Clowns.” They’re still a fascination for a lot of artists. [But] it’s more a harlequin image that I used. There’s a certain mystique about a harlequin and the idea they can be very throwaway or trivial but also quite cunning. Playful, but in a melancholic way.
BB: Will you carry out that motif stylistically? AG: I don’t think so. I just get little obsessions with things but usually get bored of them. I’m feeling quite understated at the moment in terms of my appearance. On an everyday basis, I’m quite lazy.
BB: Are you a fashion icon?
AG: No. Other people do [think so], though, apparently. I see people on the street who look like they’re far more interested in fashion than me.
BB: Do you associate your fashion choices with your music? Do they work in tandem?
AG: For me, the imagery and dressing up all come into play when we’re playing live. It’s another expression of the music, rather than being particularly interested in fashion—although, I am interested in fashion.
BB: Is there some look that’s exciting you now?
AG: Long socks—thick wool ones that keep my legs warm. And slippers.