Alison Goldfrapp knows what it's like to feel nervous. As one half of electronic music duo Goldfrapp (her long-time collaborator is Will Gregory), she has performed in front of thousands upon thousands of people, and this summer she's taken on a new project: photographing headline acts in the build-up to their Summer Series performances at Somerset House.
Goldfrapp swapped mic for camera in the aim to capture the pre-show journey: you know, from pre-gig nerves to post-performance elation. The chosen artists for, Anticipation, are singer-songwriters Laura Mvula and Jack Savoretti. 'I performed there [Somerset House] myself in 2013 so it was great going back. I can vividly recall the moments that made that performance so memorable for me and I tried to capture some of these emotions in the pictures I took of Laura and Jack.'
We caught up with Alison, looked at her beautiful photographs, and asked her to talk us through her pre-show rituals. After all, if anyone knows how to keep calm under pressure, it's her.
We can't even imagine how nerve-wracking performing to thousands of people must be, how do you prepare?
'When I’m on tour, I get into a routine with it all so I’m much more relaxed and it’s easier to do a show. It’s much harder at the start of a tour or if it’s a one-off gig. If I’m particularly nervous I like to have a moment on my own to relax, be calm and focus my thoughts before going on stage.'
Do you have a pre-show routine to get you in the zone?
'I’ll have a light meal a couple of hours before a show. Then I’ll go into my dressing room and get into make-up and get dressed. I like this time as it’s a way of relaxing and being calm. Then before I go on stage I warm up my voice, then go and hang out with the band. It’s really important for me to feel connected to all the band members and for us to feel like a united front. They are really special to me.'
Are you one of those stars who demands fluffy white kittens and Gold-infused water on their rider?
'I don’t have any crazy rider requests actually... just the usual bottles of water that have to be at room temperature, as cold drinks aren’t great for the voice. I do like to indulge in some treats after the show though, a good slab of chocolate usually works well!
Any essential dressing room vibes?
'Ideally the dressing room should be calm, fun and easy. I love having essential oils in an oil burner. Good smells in the dressing room are really comforting I find.'
And what about your pre-show beauty routine?
'I like low maintenance, so there's nothing special that I do. Having a facial every now and then is great though to keep the skin looking good and release all the tension around the head and jaw.'
You’re so well known for your show outfits – do you find they're a sort of armour for you?
'Dressing up for a show is fun and it definitely gives me a sense of occasion and gets me into a particular zone before I go on stage. It’s really important for me to feel comfortable though, too. The last thing you want is an item of clothing or shoes to make you feel self-conscious as that might distract you from your performance.'
Can you give us any advice for dealing with pressure and nerves?
'It’s very hard to stop nerves, once they set in it’s difficult to alter the mind-set. I think a little bit of nervousness can be a really good thing, you just don’t want them to overpower you. Just try to remember your audience is on your side, be yourself and enjoy the moment!'
You've recently taken up photography, did you find this career shift scary?
'Photography has always been a big part of my life. I remember playing around with a camera as a kid at the bottom of the garden. I would take pictures of anything, literally anything that caught my eye.
'Photography is something I genuinely love doing. Whilst I’m a musician first and foremost, imagery always been very important to me and has influenced how I write and think about music. Making photographs is a real passion of mine and something I’d like to explore further, so I was very flattered and honoured when American Express commissioned my first commercial collection of images.'