Goat Girl have been chatting to Live4ever ahead of the release of their new album On All Fours on January 29th next year.
As you probably know, there is quite a large gap between the recording of an album and its release.
Mastering, artwork, production, promotion…all these things take time, even before factoring in when is most financially beneficial to release said album. And while 2020 has given everyone the ‘luxury’ of time, for Brixton’s Goat Girl it has meant sitting on their sophomore album for well over a year.
Fortunately, the quartet are confident in it enough to take events in their stride, with no fear of losing the momentum built by their well-received, self-titled debut of 2018. “Not playing the songs, it still feels really new with not touring,” they tell Live4ever over Zoom during mid-Lockdown #2.
“That’s something to look forward to, and it still feels really fresh even though they are a year old! 2021 just made more sense. We got to take our time with the videos and everything else.”
As is their wont, creatives are rarely happy with the ‘finished product’, but with so much extra time to play with, was there ever any temptation to tweak the album? “You can always hear something and hear how it can be different.”
“It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that things can constantly mould and change, but it’s quite nice that it’s set in stone because it’s a snapshot of that period of time, when we were writing and how we were writing.”
On All Fours sees Lottie relinquish some of the writing responsibilities. It’s more of a shared effort, although the band are quick to confirm this wasn’t really a conscious decision:
“It’s quite a natural evolution. You’ve got to remember Lottie wrote (the first album’s) songs from aged 15 to 18, we’ve all grown since and we’re older and wiser. We’ve been through a lot, so things are bound to have changed.”
In keeping with this more collaborative approach, the band drafted a handful of friends and peers to appear on the album: “When we were writing the songs, we would hear something and think, ‘That would sound so good on a trumpet or a viola’. With this album, we wanted to be in the family, get our friends involved with the artwork and the videos.”
Speedy Wunderground head and producer Dan Carey, a long-time associate of the band, was brought in on production duties to quench their new-found thirst for more electronic soundscapes.
“We were writing with synth quite a lot, it was an integral part of the writing process,” they tell Live4ever. “We changed around our instruments a lot as well. Most of the time we were writing, someone was playing keys, so it went from there.”
“Dan helped us translate it into the recording process. We hadn’t played with a click before because it didn’t suit the band, but when we played it with Dan we did some pre-production. Dan helped us make some beats on a sampler, and Rosy was playing along with that which made it feel more natural than a cold click. That made it work and that was his idea.”
One can undoubtedly hear Carey’s presence on the record, but be in no doubt that Goat Girl still dictate proceedings. The subject matter is as topical and relevant as before: opening track Pest From The West (a riff on the Murdoch headline Beast From The East) is a diatribe to politicians from all corners of the world.
“It’s obviously political commentary on the world at that time and the world’s history, but it can be applicable to any moment. It was written in a certain context about a certain thing, but it’s nice that it can be open to interpretation. If people feel powerless and voiceless there’s going to be anger, and that’s what this song is talking about.”
Elsewhere, on the powerful Anxiety Feels, L.E.D.’s lyrics elucidate on how crippling anxiety can be. “It can be really misconstrued in your own head and things can be amplified by this inner voice. I felt that writing down how I felt, and sharing that with my friends and the band, would be a nice thing to be able to do.”
“Sometimes it can be hard to say how you feel all the time, and if you’re not feeling great it’s good to let people around you know. It’s important to do it, if not in conversation then doing it in an art form is therapeutic.”
Goat Girl are, like many of the current crop of bands, observant of the modern world and the behaviour of the political class. During the first lockdown they were interviewed by the BBC to give their opinion on how the pandemic affected musicians. Seeing this as an opportunity to speak out against certain injustices, the band were disappointed by the final edit:
“We’d made all these banners that summarised our feelings and the things that have outraged us during lockdown, things that haven’t been covered that the government have done. We made banners saying things like ‘Government Won’t Help, Community Will’, ‘Trans Rights Now’ and ‘The Hostile Environment’.
“We were talking in a lot of depth and having an interesting conversation, and pretty much the whole interview was directed by these banners that we’d made because we thought that would be filling up the whole photo that was taken, so it’s not just for an aesthetic. We really meant those things, and then they just cut the whole thing.”
“There was probably a two-minute section where we were talking about something stupid and they just used that and took a photo of us in front of our door without the banners. It was such an obvious thing for them to do because they’re completely biased.”
“We wanted to share that with people. Don’t trust everything you see. You think it’s a trusted source, but everyone’s got bias in some way. Look into things a bit more.”
Rosy expands; looking at world politics overall, she’s despondent. “It’s all becoming quite clear to me that it’s all a farce. All party politics, and that element of ‘you have a say’…”
“Biden winning was good, and will hopefully create a change. But the people that created that change aren’t looked after when it happens. I’m coming to realise it’s all about trying to revolutionize and change the whole system. Break it down and start again.”
Politics starts at home. Being based in Brixton, the four-piece are very familiar with the legendary Windmill venue which is currently under threat of closure. “It’s such an important music venue. “And socially; there’s people that don’t even go for the gigs, it’s such an important place that should be protected.”
“They’ve got a crowd-funder which they’ve had since the beginning of lockdown. A lot of bands are sharing that. Holly Whittaker, a photographer we work with a lot, is selling prints with the profits going to the venue. We’ve talked about doing a fundraiser too. It’s really important to make sure it’s still there.”
Not ones to miss an opportunity to ask key questions, Lottie and L.E.D. have a couple of relevant ones: “It seems that everyone is pulling their weight to help the situation, but it’s also like, why does it fall down to us to save a very important music venue?”
“That should be down to the government. They don’t give a shit about the arts when it’s not making millions. When it’s four peoples’ mental health they don’t care. The arts actually is a money maker. That’s why London is considered to be a cultural hub, which holds so much history and cultural richness. It’s why people come on holiday here. There’s so much going on here that is monetised, and the government seem to be blind to that.”
Holly sums it up best: “The British music industry is recognised all over the world. It’s mad that the government doesn’t recognise that.”
Twas ever thus, but bands like Goat Girl are still fighting the good fight.