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Goldfrapp Interview: Will Gregory on death, happiness and drama

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  • Goldfrapp Interview: Will Gregory on death, happiness and drama

    • Goldfrapp's Will Gregory :: Interview with Tanya Rae

    Will Gregory is one half of UK electronic duo Goldfrapp, who are set to release their seventh album, Silver Eye, at the end of the month. FBiís Tanya Bonnie Rae spoke to the man behind the synthesizer about life, death and some other light-hearted topics.

    Tanya Bonnie Rae: I understand itís been three years since your last visit to Sydney, so tell us, what have you been working on since 2013?

    Will Gregory: We had a bit of time after the tour to regroup, and then we got asked to do some music for a theatre production in London for the Greek tragedy Medea. It was really interesting to step out of the studio and step into a rehearsal room with lots of actor-y people and get involved in a whole other process.

    I know this year marks your seventeenth year of making music, how would you say the music industry has evolved since the year 2000?

    Itís completely turned upside down. Now the record companies have become very much diminished in their power. Theyíre no longer the gatekeepers of musical distribution. Music is out there distributing itself amongst everyone and in some ways thatís a great thing, in other ways itís tough. Obviously to make music it takes resources and if there arenít any resources left to pay for it to happen it becomes slightly diminished. I think that some people are citing musicians as the canary in the mine for lots of other parts of our life.

    Would you say the industry has become a little bit more cutthroat?

    I donít know that itís cutthroat, I think itís just the fact that there is so little protection for the freedom of movement of peopleís music. Once itís out there, itís on everyoneís phones, itís getting sent around and, consequently, the whole element of live performance has become hugely more significant in the last 10-15 years because that is where people are able to reap the rewards of their work, because no-one is buying it anymore. Iím as guilty as the next person for listening to music on YouTube, and YouTube pays some tiny amount for music donít they? So, weíre struggling, but at the same time itís kind of brilliant [laughs] because if you want to hear a piece of music from any time in recorded history itís there under your fingers in seconds.

    Itís become very accessible.

    Yeah, exactly. I mean what do you think, do you think itís a good thing?

    I think it is a good thing because it is at our fingertips, as you said. It encourages people to go out and find music and explore music because you can do so very easily and very cheaply, and because of that youíre exposed to way more, in terms of genres of music and in terms of platforms of music.

    I think youíre right. The problem is that there are probably three people in the world who are benefitting from it. You know, the guy who owns Spotify, the guy who owns YouTube and the guy that owns Google, and these guys are having a great time. But before there were many thousands of people benefitting, and now itís only a tiny handful. Thatís a bit of a worry because itís not just going to be music thatís in that position, itís going to be all kinds of other industries; all sorts of shops are closing left, right and center because of Amazon. I think there has to be somebody who waves a flag at some point and says, ďWoahĒ, you know [laughs].

    Youíve recently said in a press release: ďI think writing an album is like being lost in a wood Ė youíre trying to figure out an interesting path, you donít know whether itís going to be a dead end or somewhere interesting and you never know where to stop because around the corner some beautiful vista might open up.Ē With the direction that youíve taken for Silver Eye, your new album, which part of the woods would you say youíve ended up in?

    [laughs] Well, I think weíve got out of the woods [laughs]. Because weíve finished it, so Iíd like to think that. I suppose weíre in a different bit because now weíre trying to figure out how to do it live and thatís always a kind of reckoning for all the excesses that you indulged in while you enjoyed the happy hours of frolicking around in the studio. And then somebody would say, ďOk, now all very well, but where are you going to get that whip crack you used?Ē Or, ďWhere are you going to get those 400 strings that you layered up in the studio?Ē So sometimes thereís a bit of a head scratch that happens, but at this point the writing is fun. Itís also scary because you spend a lot of the time being completely at sea. You donít know where you are, you donít know whatís happening or why.

    †Iíve also just read the lyrics for the song ĎHappinessí, ďWe can see your troubled soul, give us all your money weíll make it better.Ē If money isnít the key to happiness, what would you say is?

    The key to happiness? Itís quite interesting, I think if you ask yourself whether youíre happy or not, itís usually because youíre not.

    So youíre saying Iím unhappy?!

    Yeah, if youíre saying, ďAm I happy?Ē, youíre kind of saying, ďI am unhappy.Ē So I think one of the keys is not being aware [laughs] of whether you are or not. And in order to be not aware of it you have to be kind of distracted; you have to be engaged in doing something that youíre interested in.

    I agree in the sense that you have to be engaged in something that youíre interested in, but I wouldnít necessarily use the word distracted, because distracted suggests that you should be busy, and remain busy until the end of your life when youíve distracted yourself enough from the fact that you may or may not be happy.

    Yes [laughs], maybe distracted is a flippant way of putting it, but I think if youíve thought about the fact that youíre going to die, if you try to deal with the metaphysics of life on a daily basis, you definitely would not be happy. Because the reality of it is appalling really [laughs]Öweíre all gonna die!

    What a wonderful way to slowly wrap up the interview, by the way weíre all going to die!

    [laughs] Yes, but I suppose itís learning how to feel happy about it, maybe.

    I understand you come from a classical background as well. How would you say your tastes in particular have contributed to producing this new album?

    Itís difficult isnít it because I think classical music usually takes longer to express itself. I think classical music is a way of listening to music, which gets you used to the idea of layers. I like music thatís working on more than one level.

    I think classical music would also teach you patience.

    [laughs] Do you think so? Have you been sitting in very hard seats listening to long operas or something [laughs]? Iím just interested in all music to be honest with you. I did start playing classical music, and I used to play the oboe in an orchestra and itís a lovely way of hearing music when youíre sitting in the middle of it, but it also makes you want to play with other people. I worry about all those people that sit in their rooms making it on a computer, missing out on actually playing music with other people. Thatís something that I enjoy when Alison and I are working together because a lot of the time weíre playing. Sheís singing or playing, or Iím playing and probably not singing Ė itís a two-way thing.

    Is there anything else that inspires the sound behind Goldfrapp?

    I think everything you do will seep in somehow to what youíre doing. I like film music because you can imagine a film that goes with what youíre doing. And I think sometimes we do that because itís easier to talk about what might be happening in the scene – that is the music – in terms of low, high, long, short, slow, fast. If youíre trying to communicate with somebody else youíve probably borrowed from visual metaphors and talking as if you were scoring a film Ė to an imaginary film.

    There seems to be a lot of influence with film and theatre in your work.

    Well drama I think, yes. I like there to be drama. We want there to emotion and colour and character. We want something to be happening.

    Listen to the full interview above. ĎSilver Eyeí is out March 31st via Mute Records.

    WHO: Goldfrapp
    WHAT: Vivid Sydney
    WHERE: Carriageworks
    WHEN: Friday 2 June, 8pm
    HOW MUCH: $100 + booking fee, on sale now here

    The post Goldfrapp Interview: Will Gregory on death, happiness and drama appeared first on FBi Radio.