“There’s something really satisfying about going ‘errrrrrhhhhhhh’ on a synthesiser. It satisfies some basic need”
full of terrible clichés, so it’s an even more perilous place to pick your sounds from. But it’s also quite entertaining.”
Recording the majority of the album in Gregory’s home studio also made a difference to the band’s creativity. While their early days were rife with unhappy recording experiences in desolate cottages or, as Goldfrapp puts it, “expensive, clinical” studios, having the time to develop an album makes all the difference. “I suppose it’s the difference between sitting in an office, and being somewhere you can stare out the window for half an hour without thinking ‘Shit, I’ve just spent another £10,000’,” she says with a wry smile.
As insular and intuitive as their set-up seems, Head First also marks the first time that an outsider has been drafted in for what Gregory calls an “audition of sorts”. Richard X, the pop mastermind behind albums by Róisín Murphy, M.I.A. and, er, Liberty X, took album tracks Alive and Rocket away to work on last year, although it was only his ideas on the former that made the final cut.
“We’ve had this kind of love-hate relationship with the idea of a producer, almost since the beginning,” Gregory explains. “I think we felt that it’d be great to have another pair of hands in there, but we were never quite sure what those hands should be doing. But we kind of feel like having someone to tell us ‘Is this a verse, or is this a chorus; is this a song, even, or should we just bin it?’ you know, whatever it is – someone to just give us a bit of support.
“Obviously, we sit in our houses for hour after hour, day after day, on our own trying to work this stuff out. And we saw lot of people; it was quite entertaining, and it was quite useful, because we played people four or five songs, or wherever we’d got to – and just getting their reaction was actually quite interesting. Richard X totally got what we were doing.”
The duo recently mentioned that 2008 also saw them tussle with managerial problems, although they deny it had any sort of impact on the album. Over the 10 years of their existence, though, they both agree that musicians have inevitably become intertwined with the business side of things – not least because of the boom in illegal downloading. They are somewhat resigned to having their music leaked ahead of schedule.
“If it wasn’t leaked, maybe that’s more worrying, in a way. It’s just a fact of life,” Goldfrapp shrugs. “It makes the whole