Alison Goldfrapp – A Reinvention

Photography:
Jack Grange
Styling:
Yana McKillop
Words:
Gemma Lacey

Alison Goldfrapp has always been mesmerising; first comes her voice, a low thrall that both hypnotises and rouses the audience and then her playful wardrobe, which adds a new layer to her vibrant and commanding performances. Now with a debut solo record, The Love Invention, she reaches dizzying new heights and seduces us all again along the way.

 

Alison Goldfrapp is our digital cover story for May 2023

Balenciaga dress & Cartier rings & earrings

Stella McCartney overall, Baserange bodysuit, Boucheron necklace & ring & Alison’s own small earring

This record is the result of focus; there are still echoes of her previous work, a heavy nod to disco, songs which will have you heading straight to the dancefloor, and that quirky secret sauce she always adds, which makes her songs just that little bit otherworldly. What’s different is how much more rooted in rhythm this record is as she tells us, “I started out thinking that I really wanted to do something that was very rhythm-based, very beats based. So that was very much a focus. It was something I felt like I hadn’t really done before, and I’d wanted to do it for so long.” As expected, there’s always her unexpected signature touches that make the songs extra special “I explore quite a few of the themes that I’ve always explored, which is the sort of nature of science, how we as humans see ourselves in those worlds, how we relate to nature. And so desire and nature and you have common themes there I think.”
The notion of desire is one that’s driven this record, a desire to experiment, create new work and fearlessly explore new territories. Part of that comes from how this record was generated; having taken a sabbatical, Alison focused her creative attention outside music. “During that time, I concentrated more on my drawing and photography. I went on a road trip to America on my own, and I was having a bit of a purging, recalibrating, and thinking about what I wanted to do next and where I wanted to go. Cause I was feeling a bit lost, a bit bored. Then just as I was getting my mojo back, the pandemic happened. So it was like, fuck, this is really bad timing, but actually, it was really great because it sort of forced me to set up the studio because I couldn’t actually go anywhere to do anything. And that was a bit scary, but actually, it was a really good time to try out things. And I really got back into music. So it’s also my very own personal feeling of celebrating music as well. “
The feeling of celebration is evident across the record, especially with the lead single “So Hard So Hot ” bubbles with a rush to the dance-floor energy; there are disco handclaps, a banging house beat and an ethereal vocal. Inspired by British summer time, the song perfectly captures the heady and hedonistic nature of a country that doesn’t get much sun but knows just how to enjoy it when they do.

16 Arlington coat, Diesel jacket & skirt, Neous shoes, Bulgari necklace & earrings & Cartier necklace

Simone Rocha dress, De Beers bracelet & Boucheron ring

That’s always been her charm, the ability to exist singularly as an artist whilst simultaneously capturing the moment’s energy. We discuss some of her iconic looks, including the pirate hat on the cover of Seventh Tree, where the pierrot-esque spirit captured the zeitgeist at the time. 
“I remember going to Amsterdam, and there’s this beautiful part where they have all those sort of really fascinating antique shops. I was walking down there, and there was an old sailing shop. They had these sorts of ancient globes in the window and telescopes from ships, old ships and models of old ships and maps. I was just looking in the window and always thought those things were very romantic. The idea of travel and old maps that you read when people looked at the stars and the moon to help you guide you on the sea. There’s something incredibly romantic about all that. Then I saw this little hat that was there, and I bought it. Things like that become very important to me and special to me, just one little key item that sort of becomes a symbol, if you like, for the whole aesthetic and sound.”
The world building is a huge part of how she works both in immersing herself in new worlds, starting as a young singer who moved to Antwerp to perform as part of an arts company. At that time it was not the creative hub that it’s celebrated as today, and this was a bold choice. “It was quite an unfashionable place to be, really. And the reason why I stayed there for as long as I did, apart from the fact that it was the British Council, which paid for me to be there, it was also insanely cheap at that time. I mean, you could live in the most glorious, beautiful, traditional Flemish house for absolute peanuts. “This ability to follow her own path and choose which elements to combine is part of her unique charm.

Roksanda coat, Sportmax dress trousers, Rochas shoes & De Beers necklace & ring

Toga Archives jacket, N21 by Alessandro Dell’Acqua dress, AGL shoes & Studio Deve earrings & necklace

Givenchy coat & gloves, Roksanda jumper & Bulgari necklace, earrings & bracelet

Simone Rocha dress & socks, Mach & Mach shoes, De Beers earrings & bracelet, Boucheron ring & Alison’s own small earring

She says she thinks about colours and atmospheres when creating her work, and the ways she layers her ideas impact all of her songwriting too. With this record, she says “I’d sort of had this idea that I wanted to do more stacking of vocals and try out more harmonies, layering of things, and also much more synthetic production, like subterfuge. So I kind of wanted it to sound very kind of quite lush and synthetic sounding.”
In terms of her own inspiration, she cites Talking Heads as a core inspiration “I love David Byrne’s mantra-like beats,” she says. “‘Once In A Lifetime’ is one of my all-time favourite songs. It felt like a critical questioning of being human. That, along with the disco music that I loved, has really stayed with me.” She also revered Prince, once writing him letters inviting him to come and see her play. “I remember I sort of desperately wanted him to, when I was at art school, I sort of doing these little performance things with sound and whatnot and crazy shit. I wrote letters to him saying, can you come and see me perform? That’s so beautiful. I’ve never got an answer, but whether he saw them or not, I really don’t know, but he didn’t come up soon. But maybe he would’ve done it if he’d got them. I think he would’ve.”
Prince may have missed her shows, but now her work reveals itself as an invitation to us all, with beats that gently draw us to the dance-floor, as her siren-like vocals lure us further into the party, and we can’t wait to catch her on the festival stage this summer.

Givenchy coat & gloves, Roksanda jumper & Bulgari necklace, earrings & bracelet

Balenciaga dress & Cartier rings & earrings

Hair: Adam Garland 
Makeup: Francesca Brazzo at The Wall Group using Giorgio Armani makeup
Manicure: Jessica Thompson at Eighteen Management
Set Design: Max Randall at Luxar Artists
Photographer assistant: Ella Pavlides
Styling assistant: Sofi Chetrar
Hair assistant: Leanne Millar
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