Music Interview: Still // Alone

Music Interview: Still // Alone

Q & A with The Golden Filter

Penelope Trappes and Stephen Hindman are The Golden Filter, a UK-based electronic duo who hail from Australia (Trappes) and the US (Hindman). Their latest sonic offering is STILL // ALONE, an album that is divided into two distinct parts, and was recorded in old studio spaces across the UK. 

The promo notes for the album tell us that this is “music for dancing alone”; a perfect soundtrack for the O-week wind-down.

STILL // ALONE is out now on Glasgow-based label, Optimo Music. 

Big thanks to The Golden Filter for answering every space-related question we could think of.


What was your first ever experience inside a recording studio as a duo?
In New York City, we had a pretty large studio space at Stephen’s place. It was where we did everything, and we generally disliked working from anywhere else. It was only since moving to London that we have had to get out of our comfort zone and find other spaces that we could get loud in.

How did you create the concept for the album STILL // ALONE?
We’ve always had two different sides to our music—a dance-heavy sound and an odd cinematic sound. The studios gave this album a bit more cohesiveness, since the cinematic tracks were also done on dance music tools - drum machines and old synths. It all sort of just happened this way. Separating out the album into two sides was mainly to draw a bit more attention to our two different sides.

How did you decide which studio spaces to record in?
We rented a studio within a week of moving to London just to try to capture some of the new energy. At the time we thought the music was weird and we weren’t in the headspace but those sessions turned out to be the basis of 3 of the songs on the album. That studio was a place in Hackney called Twentyseven, where we’ve worked on a lot of music­—not just our own—since then. But they are moving this month, which will be sad.  It’s a special place. Other studios kind of found us in one way or another.

Do you have any stories you love from the studio spaces you recorded in? Historical anecdotes? Ghost stories?
No ghosts, but there were some very weird spaces in some old houses that didn’t make any sense at all. One was a house owned by a famous 80s producer in LA, but it seemed to be his London ‘junk’ house. Nothing worked at all, and we were told to piece together studio bits from three rooms to make things work. Strange day. Can’t say much music came of it though.

In terms of musical equipment, were you mostly using your own instruments (synths, machines, etc.) or were you also experimenting with equipment you were unfamiliar with while creating STILL // ALONE?
We brought over our own synths and everything when we moved, but we tried to use what was in the studios. There were definitely times, programming beats on old Linn drum machines that we had never done before.  And trying to get midi out of old drum machines to sync with old synths that we never have used before is pretty hit or miss.  But we wanted it to be about the process.

There is a beautiful sense of space on the album. It is an aural journey that feels at the same time quite visual. What was the mixing process like?
We mix as we write. So it generally just happens at the same time. We’re big fans of space, and try to keep one microphone on while recording a piano or other things to record the air in the studio. Not really sure if that works or not but we do it anyway.

Optimo seems like a label that embraces creativity and difference. Have you seen a change in the way you work since joining the label? Has the aesthetic or philosophy of Optimo, other artists on the label, or label affiliates (like Green Door Studios) informed your work in any way?
Optimo Music probably has influenced us in that we don’t feel like we need to change anything about our music. Musically, It’s just probably more that we grew up listening to a lot of the same music as JD Twitch­—the owner.

And finally, do you have any advice for young electronic artists who are preparing to record in a studio for the first time?
Be free. Let things happen.

This article first appeared in Issue 2, 2017.
Posted 12:22pm Sunday 5th March 2017 by Bianca Prujean and Reg Norris.