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One of the early 21st century's most inventive acts, the multi-platinum-selling and award-winning duo Goldfrapp crafts stylish electronic pop that's as wide-ranging as it is distinctive. Singer/composer/multi-instrumentalist Alison Goldfrapp and composer Will Gregory transformed folk, cabaret, classical, disco, techno, '80s pop, and glam rock into an adventurous body of work where the only constants were lavish arrangements and Alison's quicksilver, multi-octave vocals. Though the duo's most danceable output was often their most successful -- 2005's Supernature and 2010's Head First both debuted in the Top Ten in the U.K. and earned Grammy nominations in the U.S. -- quieter albums like 2000's Felt Mountain and 2013's Tales of Us were just as powerful in their own right. With 2017's Silver Eye, Goldfrapp brought their exuberant and introspective extremes together in ways that were as unmistakable yet unpredictable as ever. Born in Enfield, London, Alison Goldfrapp was the youngest in a family of six children that moved frequently during her early years. Once they settled in Alton, Hampshire, she studied at the Alton Convent School, where she sang in the choir, and then went to Amery Hill School, where she stood out because of her punk outfits and love of disco. As a teen, she spent several years traveling Europe, absorbing music from artists including Donna Summer, T. Rex, Kate Bush, Iggy Pop, and Serge Gainsbourg. By the time she was 20, she had returned to the U.K.; as a fine art painting major at Middlesex University, she incorporated mixed sound, visuals, and performances in her installation pieces. Along with writing her own songs, she collaborated with other artists. In 1994, she appeared on Orbital's album Snivilisation and recorded two songs on Dreadzone's The Good the Bad and the Dread: The Best of Dreadzone. The following year, she lent her vocals to Stefan Girardet's music for the film The Confessional and Tricky's Maxinquaye. After a mutual friend gave some of Alison Goldfrapp's demos to composer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Will Gregory -- who studied Western orchestral and chamber music at the University of York and went on to perform with artists and ensembles including Tears for Fears, Peter Gabriel, the Cure, and the London Sinfonietta -- the pair decided to work together. Taking Alison's surname as the moniker for their collaboration, Goldfrapp signed to Mute in 1999, then sequestered themselves in a countryside bungalow to make their debut album. When Felt Mountain arrived in 2000, it reflected the trip-hop boom of its time, but also reflected more unexpected influences such as folk and cabaret. Reaching number 57 on the U.K. Album chart, the album was certified gold in the U.K. in 2001 and was shortlisted for that year's Mercury Prize. By that time, the synth-pop heavy Utopia Genetically Enriched EP suggested Goldfrapp's sound was already evolving. Meanwhile, Alison Goldfrapp also appeared on Peter Gabriel' soundtrack album OVO. Due to the demanding nature of the Felt Mountain tour, which called for as many as 40 supporting musicians, Goldfrapp pared back on its next album. Recorded in a studio in Bath, April 2003's Black Cherry grew out of extensive jam sessions as well as the duo's love of disco, glam-rock and techno. The album's sexier approach was exemplified by the single "Strict Machine," a top 20 hit in the UK that earned Goldfrapp an Ivor Novello Award for Best Dance Single in 2004. Capitalizing on Black Cherry's success -- the album went platinum in the UK and reached number four on Billboard's Top Electronic Albums chart in the US -- the duo doubled down on its dance leanings with August 2005's Supernature. A set of sardonic and romantic songs set to steady beats, Goldfrapp's third album was a breakthrough: It hit number two in the U.K., where it was certified platinum; it sold over a million copies worldwide; and it earned a Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album in 2007 (the album's glammy single "Ooh La La" snagged a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording). The duo followed it with the 2006 remix compilation We Are Glitter, which included the Flaming Lips' reworking of the track "Satin Chic." Goldfrapp moved in a drastically different direction with 2008's The Seventh Tree. Inspired by paganism and an acoustic radio performance, the duo's fourth album traded the dancefloor for soothing ambient and folk-tinged songs such as the UK top 10 hit "A&E." The Seventh Tree peaked at number two in the U.K., where it was certified gold, and at number 48 in the U.S. That year, Gregory also played saxophone on Portishead's album Third. In 2009, the group released its score to Sam Taylor-Wood's film about John Lennon as a youth, Nowhere Boy, which they recorded with a full orchestra at Abbey Road Studios. That year, Alison Goldfrapp was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music degree by the University of Portsmouth. Goldfrapp changed gears again on their fifth full-length and borrowed the exuberance of '80s pop for 2010's Head First. Touching on the joyous sounds of the Pointer Sisters, Van Halen and Olivia Newton-John, the album debuted at number six in the UK and earned a Grammy Nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album in 2011; the single "Rocket" received a nomination for Best Dance Recording. Also in 2011, Gregory's opera Piccard in Space had its premiere at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall. In 2012, Goldfrapp issued the Singles collection, which featured the previously unreleased songs "Yellow Halo" and "Melancholy Sky." The following year, Alison Goldfrapp curated an exhibition of fairytale-inspired paintings and photographs for the Lowry, Salford theater and gallery, while Gregory contributed a piece for orchestra and Moog to a performance at London's Roundhouse that was part of BBC Radio 3's Baroque Remixed series. For September 2013's Tales of Us, Goldfrapp revisited the moody introspection of Felt Mountain and The Seventh Tree, and took inspiration from classic authors and auteurs such as Patricia Highsmith, David Lynch, Ingmar Bergman, and Michelangelo Antonioni. A top five hit in the U.K. that also made the top ten in several European countries, the album also included short films for five of its songs directed by filmmaker Lisa Gunning. After scoring a Royal National Theatre production of Medea, Goldfrapp returned to the studio in 2015, joined by co-producers John Congleton and the Haxan Cloak as well as guitarist Leo Abrahams. The results were 2017's Silver Eye, which balanced the duo's danceable and reflective sides. The album peaked at number six on the U.K. Albums chart and reached number eight on the Independent Albums chart in the U.S. A year later, a deluxe version of Silver Eye featuring a duet with Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan arrived. Meanwhile, Gregory composed the score to the nature television series Spy in the Wild. Following Silver Eye's release, Alison Goldfrapp and Gregory took a break from their work as a duo, which earned them an Ivor Novello Inspiration Award for their musical influence in 2021. Gregory concentrated on composing, writing the music for the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2019 production of King John and scoring the 2022 thriller series Chloe (which also featured contributions from Alison Goldfrapp and Adrian Utley). Alison Goldfrapp focused on directing and photography before returning to music in the early 2020s. She sang on two songs from Röyksopp's Profound Mysteries album trilogy, a project that spurred her to build the home recording studio where she created much of her first solo album. Working with producers including Claptone, Paul Woolford, James Greenwood, and Head First collaborator Richard X, Alison Goldfrapp drew on Italo disco, bossa nova, and more for the smoothly grooving, club-oriented sounds of May 2023's The Love Invention.
© Heather Phares /TiVo
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