Incoming: Goat Girl talk third album Below The Waste and the realities of touring

Incoming: Goat Girl talk third album Below The Waste and the realities of touring

To mark the release of Goat Girl’s experimental third album Below The Waste, Music Week meets singer Lottie Pendlebury to discuss the realities of life in an indie band, the problem with social media and the grassroots venues crisis…

INTERVIEW: Lisa Wright  PHOTO: Holly Whitaker

Having made your first two albums in London, this time around you spent time in the Irish countryside at Hellfire Studios. How did that environment shape the 16 tracks on Below The Waste?

“As a band, we respond well to being quite isolated. It allows you to really immerse yourself in quite an obsessive way with what you’re doing. The studio was very spacious and completely immersed in nature, and a lot of the recording was quite spontaneous. One day, we went around and made cows ‘moo’ and banged on iron gates and recorded those sounds. We were in the middle of a farm, so we were very much making use of our environment.”

Three albums in, how are you finding life with Rough Trade?

“We’re in a lucky position where we are signed to an indie label and, in the grand scheme of things, we really aren’t controlled at all. Musicians are so exploited nowadays. You have people on TikTok getting famous quite quickly and not knowing how to deal with that, and these big major labels are waiting to sign them. The indie scene is intentionally being filtered out because of the rights it gives you as a musician, and there’s a hoarding of wealth that means it doesn’t trickle down. Community in music is so important because that’s kind of all we have. The power dynamics and the wealth imbalance are like nothing else; I can’t think of another industry like it.”

How has the day-to-day existence of being in an indie band changed since you started out?

“There’s so much more pressure on musicians now to not just be musicians, but also be influencers and well-versed social media managers, which is destroying the heart and soul of what music is about. There’s less weight on actual music now as much as there is on the personalities of people – and I don’t really care about that shit. We still have to think about Instagram a lot and we’ve needed quite a lot of help with it, which is telling in itself because you can’t really exist without it. When promoters are booking you, they’re looking at your followers or how many Reels you’ve done and how much engagement you’ve got on each one – basically data, which is really not creative at all, it’s just hollow. You can have a load of followers but none of them buy your music or go to your gigs. Physical support is really important.”

To what extent is the sustainability of touring an issue for Goat Girl?

“We’re at the point where it’s just about doable, but it also means we’re going to have no sleep and no rest. Putting people in positions like that actually makes it quite a dangerous job, both for your mental and physical health. You have a driver who’s not had any sleep; you are put in really precarious and dangerous situations.”

Given that grassroots venues were so important to your story, how hopeful are you that the industry can do more to preserve them?

“A lot of people forget about how important they actually are. Musicians don’t just appear out of thin air; they come from the confidence of believing that they can do something interesting and creative – and that comes from practice, but it also comes from playing in those venues. We needed those spaces to really explore what we were doing and make mistakes, which I don’t think musicians are allowed to do any more. There’s no room for taking risks, fucking up and being shit, which is so important in understanding what you’re striving for. I’ve been involved with an organisation called Sister Midnight that is opening Lewisham’s first community-owned music venue. It’s a model that I’m hoping could have a domino effect on how other venues could be run.”


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