Green Man 2021 – Interview: Goat Girl

by Phil Scarisbrick

Hitting the Far Out Stage tomorrow (Friday 20th August), Goat Girl are bringing their powerful sophomore record, On All Fours, to Green Man 2021. The Rough Trade signed, London four piece’s return feels like a sea change in every possible way.

A lot has changed in the world since Goat Girl finished making their new record, On All Fours. Though the album pre-dates the current overbearing concern, its themes feel starkly salient. Moving away from the directly confrontational lyrical themes of their debut, the band take a more pragmatic look at the world, and it is clear that a global pandemic has done nothing to diminish the importance of the subjects they touch upon.

‘It’s the general feeling in the air of living in a city and having these buildings, a lack of trees, all the traffic, and thick pollution that we breathe in every day. I feel very aware of that,’ explains guitarist/vocalist, Ellie Rose Davies AKA L.E.D. about single, The Crack. ‘It also extends onto a more global environmentalism too. I had this idea of us in a few hundred years’ time of having to all flee the planet, and go and find another planet to live in, because we’ve fucked it.’ 

This feeling of the ‘Global Self’ extends beyond our relationship with the planet, and into the way we connect with each other. On the song, Pest, lead vocalist Lottie Cream tries to expel some of the ire she felt after reading a headline in a Murdoch-owned publication. ‘It’s this constant feeling of anger with how the world works, how our government works, and how Rupert Murdoch owns so much of our media. Every word is considered, and when I read the Beast From The East headline about a snow storm that was coming, I just thought it was a really weird phrase,’ she explains. ‘I wouldn’t put it past right wingers to see the East to be this otherly place where there’s beastiality and it’s animalistic. It relates to the global self and how people relate to it, unlike this UKIP mindset of the “other”, whether it’s immigrants and refugees, they’re very xenophobic and racist. That phrase encapsulated that.’

Not only has the lyrical content changed direction, but so has the sound. This change was – in part –  down to the introduction of new bass player, Holly Hole. ‘It gave us a change in dynamic of how we wrote the songs. We all switched around quite a lot and Holly had loads of equipment that we weren’t used to having. We just had guitars and amps, whereas this album featured the Mini Korg synthesiser quite heavily’ explains Davies, before drummer, Rosie Bones, expands, ‘It did feel like a bit of a fresh start, and we could pave it how we wanted to and not get too set in our ways. We could be more experimental with the switching of instruments, we didn’t have to stick to the same formula that we used before.’

This move towards bringing electronic instruments into the composition process really pays off, with the synths and drum machines at the very heart of the record. Lead single, Sad Cowboy, has the uncomfortable feeling of the lyrics amplified by an evocative middle eight synth line. This new approach also brought the best out of producer, Dan Carey, who returned after helming their first record. ‘I think in a lot of ways, it makes even more sense to do this one with Dan than our debut, because he is so good with electronics. I feel like the sound of this album really fits in with his sound as a producer too. The first album is really raw, and almost like a live record in a lot of ways, but this one features a lot of electronics and drum machines, which Dan really helped us program,’ says Davies. Not only was he the right man for the job because of his abilities, but he’d also become a close ally of the band, with Bones adding, ‘After doing the first album, we ended up becoming really good friends and would just hang out. I felt like it was just unspoken – like we were obviously going to do the next one with Dan.’

Goat Girl’s second outing with legendary indie label, Rough Trade, feels like a sea change in almost every facet of the band. The playing, the depth of sound, the compositions and the lyrics all show they’ve stepped up to another level, so when they hit the road this year, it is going to be something to savour.

This interview originally featured in Issue 8 of our zine. For details of how to subscribe, see the link below.

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