Meet Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory

Hot on the heels of the release of their seventh album, Goldfrapp are Australia bound for Vivid. Cec Busby caught up with Will Gregory to talk music and muses.

 It’s been almost two decades since Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp first began making music together as electronic duo Goldfrapp, but according to Gregory who happily plays second fiddle when it comes to the band’s fame, (Alison bears the band’s name and is its very visible face) they’re still able to inspire each other.

Gregory believes the key to their success lies in their ability to keep pushing themselves. And certainly each new album has taken the band in a different direction. You’re never quite sure what to expect with Goldfrapp and that’s the way the renowned synth player likes it. While it’s been almost four years between albums for the duo, neither one has been resting on their laurels. Gregory has collaborated with a number of other artists and most recently took his fascination for analog synths on the road with Moog Ensemble and Alison has been expanding her work in the photographic and design arenas, but for the pair, Goldfrapp is always the place they come home to.

When it came time to start work on their newest release, Gregory says they spent quite a while listening to different artists and music; but if Silver Eye resembles anything at all from the vast musical canon, it’s most like their earliest releases. Gone are the recent lush atmospherics, replaced instead by the thumping, pulsing heartbeat for which they made their name a la Black Cherry and Supernature

“We liked the idea that you have this hypnotic, raw, throbbing edgy music with this ethereal vocal over the top of it,” Gregory told SX.

“We also thought about trying to be minimal and not overdressing it and being darker than some of the other synthy stompy stuff we’ve done. We wanted to open it up.”

Indeed the album’s rhythmic beats almost lull you into a trance – and according to Gregory, this is deliberate.

“If you can loop something simple without getting bored –without having to have make a change immediately to keep yourself awake – if you can do that, you’re onto something,” he says. “It’s one of the little tests we have and it’s something we like really. Not that we don’t like Bacharat or music that has 27 chords, it’s just not our language. We’re more mantra-like and hypnotic – lulling you and getting your defences down.”

Gregory says the band likes to work in an organic fashion and for Silver Eyes they got a drummer in to “record a load of drum parts – and we wrote to that”.

“And it’s great to write to a tempo and a template, and then you start from that and move on… You want to try to make everything a surprise – not just a gratuitous surprise. You want it to feel right,” he says.

Mainly he says they just want to keep themselves interested…

“We’re very open to the happy accident. For example one of the songs on the album happened literally in the time it took to play, because we improvised it together and the vocal Alison sang is literally the vocal on the album. We could try re-recording bits of it but it wouldn’t have had the same elements.”

Gregory says having worked together with Alison for years there is an instinctive shorthand although tells he SX that doesn’t stop them from still “knocking heads”.

“You do get more used to the hot terror of the blank page and you get used to sometimes coming away after days on end with nothing. I’ve learned a lot of patience. And some things are harder. As we’ve explored so many avenues now, we’ve cut into our muse so deeply, that you’re not sure if there’s anything else in there, there’s always that doubt.

“Plus there’s always pressure from the machinery wanting it to come out and I think we’re better at resisting that now. Time is amazing. If you can let it cook and come back to it usually in one listen you can know exactly what’s wrong and what’s right with it”

With the band just announced to play at Sydney’s Vivid festival, Gregory says he’s back listening to Silver Eye getting it ready for its live outing and says despite Goldfrapp having toured to Australia before this will mark his first trip down under.

“I’m usually the one who doesn’t necessarily tour, I’m not onstage and if I do tour I’m out front helping to make it sound the way we want it to sound, but I’d love to come down for this. I’d really like to explore Australia. Usually when you tour you don’t have any time. I’d like to come along and properly drive around for a bit.”

Silver Eye is out March 31. Tickets for Goldfrapp’s performance at Carriageworks as part of Vivid Music are on sale now.