Allison Goldfrapp is ragged, still woozy from the full-house show in New York the night prior, among other things.
"I'm a bit hungover. I'm drinking a vitamin water," she says, her delicate British accent flattening her "I''s. She begins to read the directions on the cure before her:
"Break seal, open bottle, apply orally to dazed and confused brain cells often associated with balancing your checkbook, three-hour conference calls and programming the time on your VCR... which I've never done and probably never will," she mutters, detached and amused.
"Three-hour conference calls" perfectly sums up the Bath, England gal's day, as she's now on a press blitz in support of her new album, Black Cherry, and her largest American tour to date. The hangover may also be a metaphor for her current lot in life, as Cherry is a downright Roman orgy of electro-pop compared to her debut, Felt Mountain.
The directions for her career might read: Break mold, open new horizons, apply enthusiastically to narcoleptic or lofty musical forms.
The aforementioned debut, released in 2000, positioned Goldfrapp as a sophisticated throwback, the baroque ambiance of her harpsichord antiquating the chill-out electronica of her musical partner, Will Gregory. Gorgeously cinematic-a sort of Shirley Bassey for opiated hipsters-the album was nominated for the U.K.'s coveted Mercury Prize alongside Radiohead and Gorillaz.
Yet the earliest interviews revealed Goldfrapp as something edgier-a persnickety Brit with a sharp tongue. That side of her was represented on Felt Mountain, she says. People just didn't listen close enough to hear it.
"I think Felt Mountain is aggressive," she explains. "I think people misunderstand that album terribly. They think it's all about sitting in bars and eating chocolate. A lot of those songs are dark. People thought that it was all just lush and beautiful and they didn't bother to listen to it."
Sarah McLachlan suffered similar typecasting after the release of her album, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy; McLachlan also combatted her waifish image through interviews, including one in which she sounded forcefully out of character by blurting: "I fart a lot."
Being incorrectly pigeonholed wasn't the reason Goldfrapp freaked out (relatively so) on Cherry, however. The end of a relationship brought freedom and hurt in equal doses. Touring behind Felt Mountain was also oppressive for Goldfrapp because, she admits, "I get quite nervous" onstage. The ballads isolated her voice, pressuring her to carry each performance.
"When you're in a venue, it's quite an intense environment," she says. "Now we have that, but we've also got things from the new album that are much more pop. For me, that's so much more fun onstage. It [also] makes the slow, more intense ones feel more intense because they're in contrast to something else. We toured Felt Mountain for so long that it got claustrophobic after a while. It was like, "God, somebody please fucking hit that drumkit.'"
Many fell in love with the sepia-toned maiden on the cover of Felt Mountain. Those same people could easily have been turned off by the black-and-bottle-blonde perm girl who appears in a nightie and thigh-high boots in the video for Black Cherry's scuzzy electro pop single, "Strict Machine."
"There's nothing worse than doing something because you think, Oh, that worked, let's do it again," Goldfrapp says. "I've got some messages from certain people, or even journalists, who feel almost quite bitter about it. "What the fuck do you think you're doing? Who do you think you are going off and doing something different?'"
The bar-sitting, chocolate-eating beauty's response?
"Well, fuck 'em." ©
Goldfrapp performs with Brookville at "Canes, 8 p.m. on Oct. 5. $13-$15. 858-488-1780.