Alison Goldfrapp was born in London, England in 1970, but was brought up in the sleepy hamlet of Alton, Hampshire. The youngest of six children, she was born when her parents, a nurse and an advertising executive, were well into middle age. Alison became rebellious early on, and by age 8, she was enrolled in a convent school. Though many children would have hated the experience, Alison, who at one point considered becoming a nun, enjoyed her three years at the convent.
Back in a regular school during her preteen and early teenage years, Alison sang for various punk and goth bands, but she grew bored and acted out. She eventually committed such juvenile delinquencies as stealing a tractor and sniffing glue. At 16 years of age, Alison ran away to London, spending the next three years squatting and hanging around the music and drug scene of the great metropolis.
Afterward, Alison received a British Council grant to sing with a progressive dance troupe in Belgium, which exposed her to a broader range of music than she had known, and marked an upswing in her personal and artistic life.
Returning to England, Alison enrolled at Middlesex University’s School of Art and thrived from the freedom it gave her. Alison’s final project for her degree was a live performance that involved her milking a cow while yodeling. The show also led to performances with the British dance outfit Orbital, which prompted Alison to start singing again.
More session singing followed, and after that, Alison went on tour with British rapper Tricky. Though she performed on his 1995 debut Maxinquaye, the two did not get along during their globe trotting, and Alison was quickly drained emotionally.
Finally, Alison was introduced to film composer Will Gregory. The unlikely pair hit it off and soon formed the musical duo Goldfrapp. While Gregory embraced the new venture as artistically freeing from his earlier work, Alison saw in Gregory the chance to work with someone unencumbered by genre conventions. She had tired, she said, of “narrow-minded wankers.”
In 1999, Goldfrapp signed with Mute Records in London. The following year, its debut, Felt Mountain, was released to critical acclaim. Although the singles “Lovely Head” and “Utopia” had little chart impact, Felt Mountain went on to sell half a million copies worldwide and was nominated for a Mercury Prize. In April 2003, Goldfrapp released Black Cherry, a darker album, which — though not as big a seller — was another critical darling like its predecessor. Unlike Felt Mountain, Black Cherry spawned more successful singles, such as “Train” and “Strict Machine”, which won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Dance Single.
2005 marked Goldfrapp’s biggest success yet, with the release of its third effort, Supernature. The platinum-selling album peaked at No. 2 on the UK charts before its U.S. release in March 2006. The singles “Ooh La La” and “Number 1” later topped the U.S. Dance charts, and songs from Supernature could be heard on TV shows like The OC and The Sopranos. Between albums, Goldfrapp built a reputation for visually wild stage shows, which included showgirls and stag-headed dancers, with Alison herself bizarrely dressed.
In 2006, Alison and Will Gregory, currently headquartered in Bath, England, tour throughout Europe as headliners for Depeche Mode.
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