Hailing from South London, a part of the Windmill Brixton generation, a venue that has been the catalyst for so many big names of modern indie such as Shame, Sorry and Tiña. Goat Girl have spent the last few years establishing themselves as one of the most talked about and exciting post-punk, indie and every other label they can be put under bands. Their debut album Goat Girl was nominated for the Mercury Prize back in 2018, a sign of true artistic brilliance in itself.
This Friday they release their long anticipated sophomore album On All Fours. An album that focuses on the tribulations of the modern day, from climate change to racism in the media to entitled men. But whilst the album takes on the world, the band gives you an insight to their own world through an unbridled amount of intimacy of personal stories of struggles with mental health and the emotive weight that isolation can have on someone. Without knowing it Goat Girl created one of the most 2020 albums possible before the year had really began.
Their sound has also evolved to take on a more smooth, jazzy and vibrantly expansive feel. Synthesisers at their helm, there’s a new found collaborative and groove fuelled tint to the bands sound, whilst still retaining that signature flair of moodiness. Thanks in part to new bassist Holly Hole who introduced the band to her Minilogue synth and to Speedy Wunderground’s Dan Carey, the synth wizard himself, who let the band take residence inside his lair of bubbling and explosive synthesisers. We spoke to the band to give us the lowdown on the ingredients that they brewed together to make their mystifying second album.
What does the title ‘On All Fours’ mean or represent?
L.E.D: It means a lot of things…and it can mean anything you like. But to me, there’s a strong connotation of animalism. It explores the way in which we’re humans, and therefore disparate from the natural world, and on the other hand, we are also so undeniably a part of the natural world – for all of its beauty, glory and gore.
Opener “Pest” is about the casual racism that is used within the media as well as the “powers that be” controlling our lives on a daily basis. Were there any particular moments that inspired this song?
L.E.D: Lottie wrote that song when she read a headline that labelled a storm the ‘beast from the east’. It’s about the propaganda that we in the west are fed, in order for us to believe that environmental issues are a ‘foriegn’ thing, with foreign roots, rather than addressing the fact that the west has a lot to answer for in terms of the climate crisis, as well as humanitarian struggles.
One theme that is consistent throughout the album is self worth and finding ways to deal with issues of mental health and anxieties. What’s the importance to you about talking openly about your mental health in songs?
L.E.D: For ‘tough’ topics like mental health to be buried, sensored and avoided only makes things worse. Everyone struggles, because we are human, but if only we shared our struggles, rather than burying it, and never asking for help, we might be able to heal a bit better from trauma, stress, depression, you name it. I think one of the best things that we can do for others and ourselves is to talk openly about how we feel because through communication comes understanding, empathy, and love. People love helping each other, and you’re never alone, but we have to be reminded of this!
In the writing process for “Jazz ( In The Supermarket” you all switched instruments and for “A-Men” the theme is about coming out of your comfort zone. In doing this do you feel it unlocked part of your creativity as a band and songwriters that you wouldn’t have otherwise?
L.E.D: Definitely. I think we all became a bit complacent with our usual instruments – feeling like we didn’t know how to play anything that sounded fresh and exciting, so having a break from the usual instruments and switching round definitely helped get that fresh feeling, as well as get excited again about our original instruments.
What was it like working with Dan Carey as producer? And what did he help bring to the album?
L.E.D: He bought so much! We worked closely with him doing pre-production; using his MPC drum machine which was programmed in time, and included some time changes within some songs. This made it feel more natural for rosy to drum along to (rather than a metronome), and therefore made the album sit in a more electronic world than our first album, without too much sonic rigidity. Dan’s studio is like a dream come true – a world of tangled wires, synths, drum machines, amazing vintage guitars and boutique amps just waiting for you to mess around with and find stuff you like. There’s very much a sense of exploration rather than domination with Dan’s production style. He’s happy to suggest things (and he’s usually right), but he allows everyone to make their own choices with moulding the live sound they want to capture.
The album features a lot more synthesisers than your debut, what was it about these sounds that drew you towards them?
L.E.D: When Holly joined the band, she introduced us to the minilogue synth (Kylie). This was like an exciting new toy to us guitar heads that were used to having our heads in our pedal boards, amps, and midi keyboards. Rosy is a hidden gem when it comes to keys as well. The interludes on the first album were based around piano songs that Rosy wrote. We all love electronic music, and our home demos often sit more in the electronic world because we’re using Logic to record them, so it was natural for this to shine through in the album. Lottie uses synths loads in her own music too. I (Ellie) got a Yamaha CS Reface which is a really great first synth for a guitarist because there’s no presets, so it’s more like using a pedal board in a way, and experimenting with the knobs til you find something you like. I used to think you have to have this in-depth technical electronic knowledge to play synth, but that’s just not the case.
The vocals in “Jazz ( In The Supermarket)” were inspired by Bulgarian folk choir, what other inspirations did you have for the sound of this album?
I (ellie) was particularly inspired by the current UK jazz scene in my guitar playing. I got bored of the standard indie guitar chords. There’s so much great stuff out there at the moment – from Alfa Mist, Demae, Ego Ella May, Yazmin Lacey, to name a few. There’s also a big cross over of jazz in india right now, which is one of my favourite sounds – that kind of loungey/ psych soul, with bands like Crumb, Sault, Holy Hive, and Alice Pheobe-Lou, and KerenDun. Then there’s a load of electronic stuff that I was influenced by like Steve Spacek, Shigeto, Sneaks, keyah/blu and Channel Tres; I see these artists as exerting a kind of dark euphoria, with a gothic undertones, which I relate to and seek to craft myself.
How as a band do you draw together to get each others unique influence to create such a vibrant sound?
We just jam it out. Jam sandwich
The Windmill in Brixton has played an important part in becoming who you are as a band today. What does this venue mean to you and as part of the independent scene as a whole?
L.E.D: I’d say it’s our musical home, for sure. We were kind of born there (as a band) if you like, and spent our formative years there. There’s a certain atmosphere with The Windmill that makes you feel welcome and able to be yourself and express yourself freely. This is something that I’ve seldom found elsewhere in London venues.