New York pair The Golden Filter have been on fire, so to speak. Having toured with The Presets and The Hundred In The Hands (to name two), TGF’s Penelope Trappes and Stephen Hindman also released Volupsa this year, a self-produced album where their unearthly world of goddesses, love, myths, and mountains reign supreme. Before playing a string of CMJ shows this week, Trappes and Hindman chat about the opera, mythology, and slugs in the dressing room.
What is your creation story? Penelope is from Australia, and Stephen is from Ohio; I imagine your crossing paths was atypical.
Penelope Trappes: We met after relocating to the same street from very separate and far away places, and became friends after discovering we had so many parallel tastes in film, photography, temperament, sarcasm, and music.
Stephen Hindman: We had a meandering musical project that managed to veer somewhere we didn't really like, so we re-channeled our newer ideas into “Solid Gold” and “Hide Me”, named ourselves after our own lyrics, disbanded our old project, and blindly threw The Golden Filter out into the world.
The word Volupsa relates back to a creation myth of the Nordic people. How did this become a theme for the album? Which one of you is the Norse mythology fanatic?
SH: Penelope is the history major, so probably her, though I grew up with a literature major brother with tons of mythology books lying around. There is always that small section at the end of mythology books that touches on Norse mythology. It requires looking deeper to get into things like Baldr, Yggdrasill, and the Æsir-Vanir War, much like how our album requires looking deeper to find out it isn't a mindless dance album about dancing nor is it an indie album full of “fun-in-the-summertime” stuff. It's essentially the birth of The Golden Filter, and with birth comes an inevitable death which we are very aware of. Not sure if most bands think about their end before they even start, but we do.
You’ve done remixes for the likes of Empire of the Sun and Cut Copy. Is remixing something you think you will dive more into in the future?
SH: Remixing is something we will be diving less and less into. We aren't a remix project, we're a band, though we still love remixing bands we really really like. We sometimes read press about how we got known because of our remixing which is totally nonsense since the labels who commissioned the remixes asked for them after hearing a bunch of our own songs, long before our first remix.
You spent most of the summer doing the festival circuit in the UK. How can you compare the experience of small venues versus outdoor amphitheatres best?
SH: Festivals are so much more disconnected from the audience than small venues, so I think we like small venues and the close interaction better than large audiences. It's harder to connect personally with such a big audience with a barricade between us and them, and so much space around us. It's weird, but even with the loudest applause after a song, it's quite hard to hear it from on the stage… but the festivals we've done, outside of maybe two, have been really really great. Much better than we ever expected.
Do you have any tour tricks of the trade that you’ve nailed down perfectly?
SH: Find a really trustworthy set of people to watch your cat for you… so important.
Volupsa this year is your solid, debut album. How was that recording process, having been a band for a little over two years?
PT: Writing music with each other comes really easily, so the recording process only took about eight months. We were done with the album by the time The Golden Filter was one year old which was an amazing time of creativity and flowing ideas having done all of the writing, recording, playing, and production on our own.
SH: It may have been quicker had we not been touring and playing so many shows in that time.
Volupsa is also on Brille Records, which is the home to The Knife – could we expect a collaboration in the future? Or at least Penelope borrowing one of Karin’s masks?
PT: Out of respect, we tend to steer clear of doing anything resembling what they've done and established. We're very different artists on the same label in the UK.
You host a Tumblr full of gems like photos of slugs in your dressing room, and answers to questions from the fans. Who updates your Tumblr?
SH: We do it. We couldn't possibly let someone else update our own photo blog, Facebook, nor Twitter for us. Except for two of our videos, no one else is involved in anything we do creatively for better or worse, though there will be more collaboration with others in the future…
It’s also a daily-upkeep as well. Why is it important to you to document this experience?
SH: It's our photo journal so we don't forget what we've done and where we've been because touring and life can go by so fast. Taking pictures is more timeless and says more without words than tiresome mailing-list posts about ourselves do. We hope our fans appreciate that.
You’ve said one of your musical guilty pleasures is opera. If you were to make a mixtape of opera for Impose, what would be on it?
1. Così fan tutte – Mozart. Aria – “Soave sia il vento”
2. La Boheme – Puccini. Aria – “Quando men vo”
3. Gianni Schicchi – Puccini. Aria “O mio babbino caro”
4. La Traviata – Verdi. Aria – Sempre Libera
5. Salome – Strauss. Final scene.