A mystery surrounds the Swedish band Goat. Hailing from the remote city of Korpilombolo in Northern part of Sweden (a city which Goat claaim is under a voodoo curse) Goat have managed to release two critically acclaimed albums while hiding their identities to the public.
The music is anything but Nordic, drawing on such different musical genres as afrobeat, Middle Eastern rhythms, krautrock and tribal drums. The result is a unique psychedelic soundscape. At live performances they wear masks and costumes as if to emphasize their ritualistic and spiritual approach to making and playing music. And to hide their faces.
Goat rarely do interviews and when they do its by phone or email. Dry Mag talked with one of the band members – who referred to himself as ‘Goat Larsen’ – through the phone before their recent live performance at Roskilde Festival.
What’s the meaning behind the name Goat?
Goat Larsen: The meaning behind the name goat… It’s an animal, you know. It’s a symbol of sacrifice and for us it means sacrificing the individuality for the collective. You have to sacrifice something to win something I guess.
How does that affect your work as a group?
Goat Larsen: We try as much as we can to put as little importance to the individual as possible in our group. Everyone is replaceable and we try to focus on what we collectively do. We try to remove the focus on us as persons and that is also what we do when we make music. When we record music its not always the same people that are around.
So you change band members?
Goat Larsen: Yeah we change members all the time. The members who record are not always the members who perform. But recently it has been the members that were involved with the recording who play the live shows because they know the songs better and they’ve played together so they’ve found each other in the sound.
For you personally what happens when you put on the mask?
Goat Larsen: It’s a way to divide myself between the person I am in my daily life and the person I am when I play music – the family father is not really there when we play music. It’s also a way to connect better with each other when we are not seven individuals. It feels like we take away our daily self, if you understand what I mean, and transform into something else.
Is playing music a spiritual experience for you?
Goat Larsen: Yes of course. I think it is for everyone. It is a spiritual thing first – that is what I think it is for everyone playing music. That is why people play music in the first place.
Goat’s single It’s Time For Fun which well be released officially September 25th.
What is the point with all the secrecy around your identities?
Goat Larsen: Its freedom. That is what it is. Freedom. To put it simply it is the freedom to go up to have a beer after the show. It’s complete freedom. No one here (at Roskilde Festival, red.) knows who I am you know. It’s perfect in a way.
So you would rather stay unknown?
Goat Larsen: Yeah, it’s important to keep the egos down, you know. It’s better to stay out of the spotlight with our faces hidden. We try to keep out of the spotlight as much as we can and that makes us in a way more relaxed I think within our collective to create more free music. I am not sure. I can’t compare it to anything.
Does the anonymity also give you freedom in a creative sense?
Goat Larsen: It’s easier to be creative when you don’t have any pressure on you as an individual. When no one knows who you are or who we are as individuals we can take it easy and do things our way. The pressure is not on. You don’t put up obstacles for yourself. I have a sense that it helps our group, but I can’t speak for other groups. But I am not sure how much the anonymity really affects the creative process but all I can say is that I think it takes away some of the pressure and I think that helps us out. It helps us create our music.
What do you mean by pressure?
Goat Larsen: We never felt any pressure. But if everyone knows what you do and who you are questions will be asked all the time. Now, I think its more relaxed to keep your face out of the picture in a way.
At what point do you put on your masks when you play a festival like Roskilde Festival? Do you put it on when you arrive at the festival?
Goat Larsen: Ha ha ha, no. Then we wouldn’t be free at all. To wear masks at concerts also makes you anonymous when you take off the mask.
Do you have any albums coming or are you just touring now?
Goat Larsen: We are going to release a single in a month or something like that. We are also recording an album and it will be finished mid autumn or something but I don’t know when it will be released. Maybe next year.
Dry Mag: How do you work when you’re making an album?
Goat Larsen: We record all the time and we jam a lot. And with different people. We work slowly and see what happens. We will spend around a year making an album and we will have recorded a lot by then.
Interview by Jacob Friberg & Dennis Kjærsgaard Sørensen.