[ This interview was originally published on May 22, 2010]
We’ve seen quite a bit of The Golden Filter on tour this year in support of their debut album Völuspá (see: The Golden Filter and The Hundred in The Hands at Mercury Lounge and The Golden Filter at Brooklyn Bowl.) After catching their set at Mercury Lounge earlier this month I had the opportunity to chat with the ever-elusive Penelope Trappes and Stephen Hindman before they head out on tour again this June.
Penelope and Stephen gladly opened up about what inspires The Golden Filter, album leaks, their previous band Lismore and more! Check out the candid interview below and be sure purchase your copy of Völuspá! Upcoming tour dates can be seen via their official website along with their photography tumblr Through The Golden Filter.
> What was the driving force behind moving away from Lismore and onto The Golden Filter?
Penelope: Everyone needs a fresh start sometimes, it was like letting go of an old dead relationship. Our old band was a bit of a testing ground for us, especially live. Sometimes a band will musically try to go where they think [their] fans want it to go but since we didn’t tell anyone anything with The Golden Filter, we could do exactly what we wanted. With no fans nor history it ends up coming out more true.
> What is your ideal venue like?
Stephen: It would be out in the woods in the middle of nowhere. We’re trying to do that very thing this summer outside of London…
‘We just read a review of ourselves today and it said we are “producers” like Timbaland. On what planet are we in the same realm as Timbaland?’
> Has it been difficult to translate your live show to festivals?
Penelope: Not really. With festivals you don’t get as much of your gear, lights and sound checks as you’d normally get but we’ve had enough experience driving around the US playing lo-fi art spaces through tiny PA systems. It really doesn’t phase us. In some ways we like those shows better, there can be more raw energy and happy accidents.
> In previous interviews you’ve expressed a love for mystique and secrets. Is this an approach you hope to maintain? Does it afford you an easier music-making process?
Stephen: In general, we’ve both been very secretive people in all areas of our lives and will always be. In music, under a blanket of secrecy you can be free to go in any creative direction you want, and whoever listens has no prejudices against it. It’s really not an uncommon way for artists to start out. However after people get a reference point to draw on (in our case Solid Gold, Thunderbird or remixes we’ve done), then the judgments begin, good and bad, as everything we do gets compared with what we’ve already done. It happens to everyone but after that point, secrecy was virtually irrelevant to our music-making process. Though we just read a review of ourselves today and it said we are “producers” like Timbaland. On what planet are we in the same realm as Timbaland?
> Völuspá is an Icelandic poem that addresses the creation of the world and it’s end. What drew you to this subject matter?
Stephen: Penelope was a history major and studying a lot of mythology along with other less ancient histories. My literature-major brother had loads of mythology books lying around that I used to read in high school. Those two facts led to a lot of our music containing references to Norse goddesses, mythical ideas of indigenous Americans
and Australians, as well as feminist references. As for the naming of the album, when Penelope found the word “Völuspá” we both knew immediately it was going to be the title. For all of it’s apparent heaviness it’s merely a reference to where we were musically, where we are now, and where we are going. The birth, the struggle, the death, the rebirth… the cycle… as told by a wise woman.
‘ [Völuspá] is merely a reference to where we were musically, where we are now, and where we are going. The birth, the struggle, the death, the rebirth… the cycle… as told by a wise woman.’
> What references inspire The Golden Filter’s visual aesthetic?
Penelope: We’ve gone through a few themes so far… desolation, hair, water, etc, but most of the current aesthetic is inspired by traveling. We’ve been letting our bookings decide on the environment and letting the environment decide the aesthetic.
> What are some cities or countries you’d like to visit on tour that you haven’t already?
Penelope: Australia, Tokyo, Berlin…
> To combat the unfortunate leak of Völuspá you put together a unique packaging for the album for pre-ordered copies. What was your reaction to the leak and what can you tell us about the packaging?
Stephen: Everything leaks, it’s no secret. We have to hope that the people who downloaded our album and liked it will come see us play. We just wanted fans to have more of a reason to buy vinyl copies and also to get Longest Night Of The Year out. As for the stars, it was a bit of a curious idea that seemed like it wouldn’t really ever happen…but surprisingly did. Wish we could have gotten one for ourselves but we didn’t.
> You met as neighbors in New York, what type of music were you each interested in creating individually before joining forces?
Penelope: I was kinda looking to join a band that sounded like The Velvet Underground.
Stephen: I was listening to indie rock and Warp electronic stuff but unfortunately making Drum and Bass. I was once asked to do a drum and bass remix for a Folk Implosion song and Lou Barlow hated it. That made me pretty sad but it was my introduction to mixing genres up…for better or worse.
> What else does The Golden Filter have In store for 2010?
Stephen: We’re writing a lot of new music before we head out on a US tour and a lot of festivals and shows in the UK and Europe. We’ll hopefully have more music out before the end of the year along with more touring and a surprise or two.