"World Music" - 2012 Album of the Year
"Goatman" - Song of the Year
Best New Artist
Last year at this time, virtually noone knew about the music of Goat. they were a band hidden away in an isolated communal village in deepest Sweden called Korpilombolo, a village with a mysterious voodoo history. music has always been a large part of their commune's way of life and Goat claims to be continuing their ancestral musical collective consciousness, still heavily influenced by the voodoo rhythms of the past and assimilating music from every corner of the globe to create a revolutionary mix of sounds, void of trends or styles or genres. Goat's debut full length album, "World Music," has been universally acclaimed by people with taste around the world, landing on many reputable year end best-of lists. until only recently, they had never performed live outside of their commune, but they are now bringing their music to the rest of the world, putting on a handful of amazing live shows in europe and preparing to carry it over here to america for a series of dates as well in the spring.
the first sounds transmitted to the outside world by Goat was on the "Goatman" 7" single released by the psychedelic UK record label Rocket Recordings in February of 2012 (check out HEAD MEDICINE' interview with Rocket HERE, which details their discovery of the band). the song is utterly amazing and was the easy choice for the Song of the Year
that summer, Rocket Recordings released "World Music," and it was the hands down 2012 Album of the Year (read HEAD MEDICINE'S review and listen to the music HERE). it sounds like nothing else and yet sounds like everything that has come before it. it is an intoxicating album and is one of the most stunningly electrifying debuts i've ever had the privilege of hearing. The cosmic sounds of Goat... traversing space and time, conjuring sounds and rhythms that are embedded in our DNA and our collective consciousness... this is music that would impress humanities far away ancestors, ritualistically praying and dancing around a campfire as they communed with the stars, but this is also music that would have been legendary among the psychedelic 60's acid rock crowd. this is music that will resonate with a hipster kid in New York City, an African Bushman in Mozambique, or a tribal elder in the Amazon rainforest all the same. the music of Goat has no boundaries. it adheres to no rules or styles. it is a mainline into pure creativity, that collective mind that we are all a part of, and Goat draws inspiration from all of it as if it were water.
HEAD MEDICINE wanted to learn more about this unusual and electrifying new band and we were excited to recently speak with two anonymous members of Goat. we were thrilled when the first set of answers to our questions showed up in our inbox, and was incredibly gracious when a second set of answers from another band member came in a couple of days later. i'm sure if Goat #2 had known that Goat #1 had already taken care of the HEAD MEDICINE interview, they would much rather have jammed than spend the time typing their own answers, but we couldn't be more appreciative and excited to have the opprotunity to peel a few more layers off of the Goat enigma from two separate viewpoints and take a peek at what's underneath. a special thanks to these members of Goat for their time.
The HEAD MEDICINE Q & A with GOAT
HEAD MEDICINE: Goat's backstory is unique, to say the least. can you tell us a little bit about growing up in the isolation of Korpilombolo and how that tight knit commune lifestyle--it's culture, rituals, and traditions--informed the music of Goat?
GOAT #1: Our past growing up in the village has of course affected us somehow like everyone's childhood does. We are followers of the shamanistic voodoo religion practiced there and we are always very close to the people and the way of life we live there. The collectivism is something we always practice even when we live in other places.
GOAT #2: This has been done before and in respect of people who have asked us not draw any more attention to this matter I must say no. You have our music I would say that is enough.
HM: from interviews and your lyrics, you talk about The Goat as a spiritual deity or presence. could you enlighten us about The Goat?
G #1: It is a symbol for surrendering your individuality to the greater good of the group, the collective. A kind of sacrifice. It is also a person, or a being in our old mythology.
G #2: As has been stated before The Goat is a mere symbol of things much greater and at this time I have neither the time or interest to get into specifics about my personal worldview. But I can tell you that the Goat is equal to any & all of the following: The great vastness that is the human experience & mind. That which never changes. That which remains throughout our earthly " existence " before and after. The experiencer. The one that never sleeps not even in dreams. Is there maybe more to human life than what we have learned? I say that it´s all a matter of how you choose to perceive things. Do you have the will to see reality for what it is or do you wish to persist in what others have told you about reality ? Simply, will you base your life on your own experience of it or on the experience of others? What people told you that you are. In other words, people, try to have an open attitude & question authority. it can be helpful in life.
HM: i've heard you say that Goat is a continuing musical consciousness that has spanned many generations in your village. how would you describe your traditional music and what do you feel is the running thread from the original native music of the past thru today and into the future? is it a literal musical thread or is it more of a spiritual thread?
G #1: The rhythms are essential. The search of a transcendental state. But also the openness to music, in all forms. The constant search for new inputs and ideas of how to expand your mind thru listening and making music. It is both a spiritual and literal way of approaching sounds. We believe that all music is the same in a way, a constant dance we all take part in from birth to death. The various expressions of music are just cosmetica. The essence of all music though is maybe the biggest secret of mankind and to explore it open minded is the biggest adventure.
G #2: I would say both. We live in a time of great change & also a time of great unrest. You basically just have to go outside and walk around for a bit or watch the evening news to come to the conclusion that we are not living on the height of our capacity as human beings right now. With this in mind the music of the Goat throughout time was always a way to unite our tribes, to rejoice, dance and sing together. What can be a better way to celebrate life?
HM: there is a wide variety of musical styles blended into your work, from 60's psychedelic rock to west african blues, trancey krautrock to scuzzy detroit prepunk, among many others. when did these styles begin to infiltrate the traditional music of your village? was it embraced or was it considered rebellious by the village elders?
G #1: Various music has influenced our traditional rhythms thru the years, but as I said, we don't think of music this way. What we hear comes out somehow and changes what we do. We don't analyze this process and do not even think of it. Since we believe the heart of all music is the same, our traditional music is not constant but is changing with the people making it. The elderly people are not in opposition to this. They are a part of it.
G #2: Our forefathers were actually very into mind-expanding music since a very long time ago and if by psychedelic you refer to indulgence in substances and repetitive drums and/ or riffs and melodies as a means to achieve a "higher" consciousness, to the vast body of Goat this is certainly the case. I kind of think that if you like music a bit more than just settling for whatever is the latest "thing" or whatever suites the way you dress best, then you will probably continue to dig deeper and deeper and the more you dig the more you´ll find and then you just naturally open up to a wider array of influences. Whether I listen to Repulsion or Harvester the outcome is the same. I have a good time. Like they probably had when they made and recorded the music as well. Music is not rocket science!
HM: recently i've read a bit about the long history of psychedelic mushrooms used in Sweden for shamanistic rituals. was/is the psychedelic experience important in the creation of the music of Goat?
G #1: No. The important thing in the creation of our music is the transcendental state. That is the psychedelic experience. You can reach this state in many ways. I would say the most superficial way is using drugs. We don´t like to talk about the use of drugs in interviews. We don´t preach the use of any drug to people.
G #2: This is true and king Erik XIV was at the psychedelic forefront during his reign in Sweden. The only thing that is "important" as far as Goat´s music is concerned is that we devote our selves to the cause whenever we get together. In what way we choose to do that may differ from time to time and person to person but the result is always the same. There is the obviousness of the ever expanding consciousness and the temple echoes with grim and thunderous sonic vibrations.
HM: you have said in the past that there are many members of Goat, and that the line up is very fluid, allowing Goat to conceivably play multiple shows from various locations simultaneously. this is a radical idea. how many core members make up Goat, and how many flow in and out? are they all a part of the Korpilombolo commune or is the group geographically spread out?
G #1: I really don't know. We are some people living in Gothenburg, everyone is not from our village. The collective is loose and people move in and out. And I guess we could make various shows at the same time if we are able to organize it. When we played in Gothenburg the 21st of december, there was at the same time a mass in Korpilombolo where music was performed together in order to celebrate the end of the world.
G #2: I would say that there is a core of about 15 - 20 people ( musicians ) more or less involved in Goat at this time. A couple of these people come from the old commune and the others are from all around Sweden basically. There are even some people involved outside of Sweden. The last show we played in Gothenburg we had a long-time spanish friend join in. So to conclude, geographically not all members are connected to Korpilombolo but spiritually everyone most certainly is. Simultaneous gatherings have already happened..
HM: how did you hook up with Rocket Recordings? were you apprehensive about releasing Goat recordings to the public?
G #1: They contacted us thru some people we know here. We just said fine, we have no principles against releasing albums.
G #2: I think someone tipped them off and they got in contact with us. Apparently they had a hard time finding us. Luckily some of us still own computers, others prefer to dwell in the dark unknown for one reason or another. Well not really, but we never expected it to take off the way it has done either. Had we known things might have been done differently.
HM: the Goatman/The Sun the Moon 7" was your first release. were these the first official Goat recordings? what kind of statement did you want to make with these first transmissions to the outside world?
G #1: There are recordings made from various incarnations of Goat but I don't think they will be released. Homemade recordings of hours of jams. We didn't really have a statement but if I try and figure out one I guess it is that we call out for a boundless world, no boundaries between people, no genres of anything, a collective mind and heart connected with the universe.
G #2: No, there is stuff recorded long before that 7" but yes it´s the first " official " release. No statement, just to make the great gospel available for people I guess. Give people a chance to have a good time, freak out and perhaps dance morbidly through the disco.
HM: World Music is a flawless album. where was it recorded and how long did it take to create? how would the compositions typically take shape? are you surprised by the acclaim the album has received?
G #1: It was recorded in our own studio in Gothenburg. The recordings were totally effortless. All ideas are good except the ones that do not work. Many songs are built up in the recording process thru overdubbs. Took about a year but we had long pauses between the recordings. And yes, we are very surprised. And very grateful!
G #2: Thank you very much. It was recorded on tape in our own studio. Some songs are re-arranged traditional songs, others are excerpts of longer jams and others still are based on a riff or drum pattern. It was recorded in a couple of sessions during the past year. I am still very surprised about all the fuzz surrounding the release, the raving reviews & all but also very, very thankful of course. We were just asked to record an album and so we did. There was simply not a whole lot of effort put into the recording of WM.
HM: Sweden has a national philosophy called "lagom," which roughly translates to "there is virtue in moderation," where it's citizen's rarely try to gain attention to themselves individually and strive to keep their temperaments at an even keel. how has this philosophy shaped Goat and your ambitions, as well as how the band has handled the international attention that World Music has received? is that one of the reasons for Goat's performing with masks, to keep that anonymity?
G #1: Yes. We believe in this philosophy as long as it is not exaggerated into self-oppression. We hate the individualism of our time. We strive for collectivism and spiritualism. And we see Goat as ONE organism, not several. But what you describe is not totally true. You dont have to stay moderate or stay calm all the time, you just have to realize that you are not important. You are a part of everyone and everything and that is important. We wear masks because we have no need for self-affirmation, we like to be free spirits not recognized by anyone. The music is what you should listen to, there is no need for you to put our faces on top of that.
G #2: For me " lagom " has more to do with just settling for average. I don´t think we have done that with World Music. quite the opposite. Goat is a collective were all members contribute equally. There are different reasons for wearing the masks on stage both cultural and personal. The main reason being that we as individuals don´t want to take credit for making the music since it already always was, long before we molded it into " world music ". We are just tools..
HM: Goat recently performed in public for the first time on a handful of European dates. how would you describe those first performances? what are your thoughts on your upcoming US dates and the Austin Psych Festival in April?
G #1: It is all good fun. We are very grateful for the opportunity to travel and meet new people. Playing live was more fun then I expected.
G #2: Simply Unimaginable! All the wonderful people we met ( Chris & Johnny at RR, the people in Newcastle, all the crowds ), the great venues we played. We could ask for nothing more. And actually there is no big difference in playing for our selves or for a bigger crowd apart from the numbers in those attending the event and the limitation time-wise.. And the opportunity for some of us to be able to go over and do a tour in the US is just awesome!
HM: i have seen two different performances of Disco Fever from Supersonic and Gothenburg, where i swear you guys jam on the Stones disco classic "Hot Stuff." was that consciously done? are there any cover songs that Goat weaves into their performances or rehearsals?
G #1: Ha ha! If so, it is totally unconsciously! I must hear it! I hope we jam on that! About covers, we make a cover of Diarabi, a traditional Malian song. Maybe we will make some more in the future.
G #2: No, not intentionally at least and no not at this time apart from Diarabi.
HM: what lies on the horizon for Goat? any new recordings or releases planned?
G #1: Yes, we have some stuff planned. First is a new song to be featured on a Rocket compilation.Then some surprises..
G #2: A new album will be recorded during the fall. We just recorded a new song for the Rocket 15 year celebration that will be available through them by the end of january i think.
It turned out quite nice. And then there are plans for some kind of a recording to be released on the eminent Cardinal Fuzz label as well.
HM: Goat seems to come from a completely different musical perspective. what could the world learn from the music and philosophy of Goat?
G #1: So this is the time to speak out my truth to the world I guess... Well, People, understand that we are all one and connected. I mean REALLY understand it. Quit dividing people into various groups. That is old fashioned and just plain stupid. Then stop doing this with music as well. Understand your unimportance in the world. Then you can realize your part in the development of the evolution by working for your collective. Then you become important for real. Individualism is your enemy. Spiritualism is your guide. Togetherness is happiness.
G #2: To do your own thing. To try and be of benefit, be polite & take care of each other. To listen to all albums by The Velvet Underground but especially white light / white heat.
That pretty much sums it up.
Goat recently announced a short tour through America, their first time playing here. do yourself and your grandchildren a favor and check it out. you'll want to brag about this one for years to come.
UPDATE: HEAD MEDICINE recently caught up with the members of Goat for a rare face-to-face interview. we discussed their first American tour and what the future holds for the band. check it out HERE
Black Cat Backstage
The Southgate House Revival
Austin Psych Fest
Old Rock House
St. Louis MO
The High Watt