One by one, Goat Girl's peers have started to break through - now it's their turn.
Rosy Bones is spending the day at home. It’s a Saturday afternoon, and for most, that might seem like the norm, right? Not if you’re about to spend the next few weeks blistering across SXSW and then preparing for the sort of year where anything and everything will come thick and fast. For Goat Girl, it’s that reality that sits knocking at the door right now. If you’d told them what would happen at the beginning, they wouldn’t have believed it in a million years.
“It was always a fun thing, something we just really enjoyed doing," Rosy explains. "We never saw this all happening, we never talked about it, and it’s kinda taken us a while to realise that we’re actually quite good."
Bristling with the sort of immediate presence usually restored for steely-eyed punk bands playing upstairs and in the back rooms of boozers, Goat Girl's sound is a whole ‘nother beast. Razor-sharp cuts build and build into ramshackle runaways that spiral yet always feel fully formed and controlled - and it's in those unique moments where it feels like Goat Girl are one of only a handful of bands truly pushing at the boundaries and walls around being a guitar band in 2018.
Now, after the many nights up and down the country, tucked into the late-night shows and pint-stained floorboards they’ve tread over to get to where they are today - Goat Girl are ready to unveil their cohesive first statement to the world.
“It’s surreal,” cracks Rosy, pointing out the platform she and bandmates Lottie (known as Clottie Cream), Ellie (L.E.D) and Naima (Naima Jelly) now find themselves holding as they sit on the verge of having a debut album out in the world.
“I guess we did maybe think of this moment, especially when like label interest and stuff started happening - but we thought of the album as, well, that’s a long, long way away.”
With most bands, who they are when they release their debut album can feel like a completely different identity to who they were when first writing and crafting in those early sessions. Goat Girl thrive off that core purpose and individual spirit that was there from day one, even if they weren’t aware of it at the time.
Coming together as friends from a young age - primarily to do “something productive with our time” - it was only when Rosy joined the band that they clicked into another gear, finding a connection with each other and discovering a new world within the DIY shows and gigs popping up across South London and beyond.
“That’s how I met them,” explains Rosy. “It was from going to those Trashmouth Records gigs, Meatraffle shows, Primordial Soup shows and loads more. We were kinda spectators for those shows and nights, and then we became part of it.”
Appearing on bills across the capital, Goat Girl could soon be found opening up for the bands they’d once gathered to watch, making a name for themselves and working out what worked along the way.
Rosy recalls the gigs with a laugh. “The first shows were pretty empty. The only people that were there were like our mums and dads and some of our friends - there were those circles around the stage where nobody wanted to be too close and nobody would be moving or clapping. It was pretty funny; it was a bit like, ‘Are you enjoying this? Or shall we stop?’”
Thankfully, that wasn’t the end - Goat Girl made sure they were everywhere, jumping at every opportunity to play and building the sort of word of mouth response to their shows that ensured that they’d be there to play at every key moment. The rise of a community of like-minded musicians and artists, it became an insatiable diary of shows at The Windmill in Brixton and support slots with the likes of Phobophobes, Parquet Courts and more, with their feet firmly on the ground as friends doing something to fill the time that was both creative and fun.
“We didn't really think about it as being something we’d be able to do full time,” Rosy continues. “We were at school or had jobs. We never set out to make it a thing, we just started playing gigs and got better each time and were finding out what people thought of it.”
Even when a manager came along, they thought “what’s a manager? He brought down loads of sweets and beer, and we were like, who’s this guy?”
Independence and artistic integrity are two vital pillars for Goat Girl. They’d put on shows with mates, organise BBQ all-dayers and do it all for themselves, fiercely loyal and dedicated to the scene they’d first bonded over all those years ago. This was all without a single track out in the world, labels queuing up to book a time to come and see the band rehearse as the swelling force around them continued to pull people in, and after one show, everyone would want more.
“That whole time was pretty crazy. It was like the beginning of a year, and we were rehearsing in a practice room in Waterloo, and our manager was just bringing in all these people who’d come down to watch us practice. It was so intense, just us playing and people there nodding their heads - but it was a very long process, a bit of a game where you don’t want to give away too much."
Goat Girl signed to Rough Trade before a single track was released. In the almost two years since, they’ve morphed and evolved their creative juices, all while retaining that visceral feeling you get when witnessing them step on stage. Dropping tasters every few months, Goat Girl’s rise has never felt forced, but a measured and confident game of push and pull that raptures up more than just any old guitar band could.
“When we started releasing material, and people started to know it, then things started to change," Rosie remembers. "We had our first mosh-pit, and we were looking at each other and not knowing why this was happening.
“I guess there was maybe a bit of pressure ever since we got signed with the record deal, and with producers that we worked with in the past who wanted to start doing the album like two years ago. The thing is, we just weren’t ready at that point, if it had gone that way then it’d be so different. We really wanted to take it slow, and I don’t think it could have…”
Rosy pauses. “I dunno, quite a lot has happened to us emotionally and we’ve grown as people over the years."
Taking everything they’d felt from growing up as a young person in London, their self-titled debut album manages to capture that all - you can hear the spirit they made it in ring through from track one to track nineteen.
“When we did record it, I don’t think there could have been any other time that we could have done it like that. We didn’t really feel pressure to be what people thought we should be, we kinda really wanted to make an album that felt right and interesting to us."
Recording with Dan Carey, whose resume boasts the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Kate Tempest and Bloc Party, in his South London studio, it’s a record that echoes the scrappy, scatter box and glorious sounds that vibrate out of London - and an album that refuses to sit still for too long before jumping to its next fizzing avenue.
More in common with a hip-hop mixtape than the standard construct of an album, it’s a record that fits perfectly and delivers on the promise their unstoppable live shows have served up over the past few years.
“It’s kinda how we write I guess,” answers Rosy, tracing how the album has come into place. “We all write our own music, so that’s where it comes from really, those little interludes are just little snippets of ideas too that we have and it puts our music into a different world too. We’re not just a basic four-piece chart band, so it goes out of that world. The thing is we don’t listen to that music. Growing up we’d listen to loads of punk and stuff, but it doesn't thrill me anymore. I don’t find it that interesting to listen to. We all kinda listen to a lot of different things, and we wanted to show that."
“There are songs there that have been around since we were 15, some are really old,” lays out Rosy, “which is why we kinda wanted the album to be as long as it is. It’s like every song we have right now and very much a reflection on our lives so far. It all feels like one thing so we wanted to put it all in one place because they all live within the same world."
“To be fair, it was pretty easy for us doing the album and recording,” points out Rosy, thinking back to the time where it all came into place. “Not easy I suppose, but within the two weeks we had a pretty chilled approach to it all. The second to last day of recording we had a gig with Dan actually playing too, and he had a party back at his studio afterwards - so we all went back there and everyone started picking up instruments.
"It was actually quite embarrassing because we wanted everyone to listen to the album because we were so proud of it, so we were like, ‘Everyone, everyone - sit down and listen to this album’. Then we started it, and I had this moment where I looked at these people listening to it and thinking ‘this is my favourite bit’ so we actually put a lot of pressure on ourselves there!”
Building a mesmerising world of gritty haze out of startling realities, Goat Girl trade upon modern life in a manner that never feels forced-upon, it’s a natural reaction to the world around them - and in that essence, their message becomes more powerful than most.
“It wasn't really intentional to make it all about that, but it’s hard to not comment on what’s around you,” elaborates Rosy. “It’s almost your duty as a songwriter to bring those issues up and bring them to the norm and show people that we don’t all feel the same way and start a conversation.
"I don’t even know what the next album will be like, it’ll probably be about being on the road,” she laughs.
What Goat Girl symbolise more than anything, is a new approach to guitar music - something bursting into technicolour across their debut album. It’s in those moments that the South Londoners become something altogether more special, a band representing a new generation. A fightback against the idea of ‘general norms’, Goat Girl flow with the sort of forward-thinking drive that makes you wonder where they go next.
“You can’t just keep playing the same chords over and over and expecting people to still be interested,” states Rosy. “It’s so overdone and boring now, having that - and not wanting to generalise - that idea of the general all-male four-piece of guitar, guitar, bass and drums playing generic chords. Fair enough if you want to do that, but I don’t think there should be room for that anymore really. I think it should be open for people to do more interesting things.”
Goat Girl are many things, but guaranteed soon they’ll be something altogether more exciting again. Always moving, always growing, you’d be a fool to try and box them in.
Taken from the May issue of Dork - order a copy or subscribe below. Goat Girl's self-titled debut album is out now.