"Goldfrapp" sounds more akin to a leprechaun’s favorite coffee concoction than the surname of Alison Goldfrapp, the leading lady of the eponymous British electro-pop duo. Indeed, it's her real name and a fitting one for a band that, several albums into their career, continues to sparkle. Goldfrapp and her right-hand man Will Gregory's just-released fifth album Head First, is a fantastical synth-laden romp brimming with sweeping surges of sound. It reels us in with Goldfrapp's rapturous vocals as she haunts and hypnotizes with “Hunt,” threatens revenge with “Rocket,” and falls in love on “Dreaming,” a song that explodes with sultry singing, bleeps and boinks.

Goldfrapp and Gregory recently sat down with PAPERMAG to discuss short skirts, writing, and how a song leaking is something to smile about.

How would you describe Head First?

Alison Goldfrapp: Jubilant and celebratory. Big drums – the biggest drums we’ve ever had. There’s a lot of “boom” and reverb and arms in the air.

And why “Head First?”

AG:It was the title of one of the songs and it just felt right for the album. It summed up the overall feeling. Diving into the world with joy and no fear.

Your first single “Rocket” was leaked. Do you know how that happened?

Will Gregory: What happened was, in Australia, [iTunes], instead of putting it up on the Sunday, they put it up on the Thursday. So, it basically [entered] the world before its regular premier. Which is annoying, but…

AG: It was also annoying to a lot of people on the message board. Which was really odd. People get really funny about things. So, I said, basically, 'Okay, everybody, keep calm.' It happens. It happens all the time nowadays. It’s out of one’s control. Can’t really do anything about it. The last album got leaked.

WG: The whole album. In some ways we have to take a philosophical view about it. If your album doesn’t get leaked…

How cool can you be?

WG: [Laughs] I think it’s something you worry about until the album gets released. It is a worry because obviously you want it to be a moment that everything’s been leading up to and 'ta-da!' Not a sort of damp squid.

How long were you working on Head First? I know your last album came out in 2008.

WG: We kind of started in February 2009. We took a month out for a film score in August. And then finished in November. We could have done with a bit more time, but sometimes rushing and not having the time to think it through [is good]. I think it is the quickest album we’ve done.

And the film?

AG: Nowhere Boy. It's an English film directed by Sam Taylor Wood. It’s a film about John Lennon as a boy.

Do you have a favorite track on the album?

WG: I like 'Voice Thing.' But, they’re all favorites. They’ve all got something that makes them to the end of the race. Because there’s a few that didn’t.

Were you listening to anything at the time that influenced the album’s sound?

AG: Lots of things really inspired us. Pat Benatar. Van Halen. What’s his face? …Billy Joel! Suicide. Abba. Steve Reich.

Alison, you’re the primary lyricist, right? The writer?

AG: I write the lyrics, yes. Will certainly has an opinion and chips in. Funny thing with lyrics. It’s such a personal thing. I’d love it if Will would write the lyrics. I could be so lazy. Be quite nice to have a rest from them. But, I think it’s quite hard to sing someone else’s words.

And Will, you kind of hide out.

WG: [Laughs] I used to be onstage and I’m not anymore. Very often I’m there, making sure we get through the rehearsals and the first few gigs. Then I might skip out. There’s other things to get on with. It’s more efficient.

And when will you be back to tour the U.S.?

AG: We’re doing a gig at the Hollywood Bowl in June, so we’ll definitely be doing some gigs around that time. Where, I’m not exactly sure.

What’s one of the more notable compliments you’ve been paid?

WG: Madonna grabbed my hand once and said “Your album fuckin’ rocks!” or something like that. I quite liked that. There’s just so many [compliments] to choose from, that’s the problem. [Laughs]

What about insults? Something that’s offended you.

AG: Here’s a big insult. Some journalist, camp as bloody Christmas, said to me, “Don’t you think you’re a little old to be wearing short dresses?”

Did you deck him?

AG: I just said, “Well, you know, Tina Turner kept wearing short dresses and she looked hot. I didn’t know there was an age limit for what length of hem one should wear.” Fucking hell, it’s so cheeky.

Did anything strange happen over the course of recording?

WG: The time the coffee cup fell down on the keyboard and played a brilliant riff. And that was it.

AG: It’s fucking hard work and you have moments when it just feels like hell. And then something magic happens and it all makes it worthwhile.

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