Sometimes we like to think of how much nicer life would be if we viewed everything through rose-colored glasses -- or through the Golden Filter.
The aptly named electronic duo got their start under the name Lismore, and while some of the synth-heavy beats continue to power on through their soon-to-be big dance music anthems, they insist that each band had completely different sounds, and it made them feel too bipolar. So the Golden Filter remains, and Lismore has since been "killed off."
New Times caught up with both Penelope Trappes and Stephen Hindman as they strolled along the Hudson River on bike to talk collaborations, culture shocks, and reviving Jimi Hendrix via Ouija board for tomorrow night's show at Grand Central -- or at least bringing some sort of representation of him along.
New Times: Where are you guys currently?
Peneloppe Trappes: If you hear some wave action, we're on the edge of the Hudson River.
Stephen Hindman: We rode our bikes here to do this interview.
PT: We figured it best we get out. It's summertime.
Just experiencing New York in the summer?
PT: That's how you do it. Just hanging out on a ghetto beach near the Hudson River.
SH: Uhhh, it's a nice beach.
What inspired you to get into music?
PT: For me there wasn't ever a point of deciding. I think it was just always there. The need to be hands-on all started when I was a kid.
SH: As for me, I was into a bunch of punk bands and stuff. I guess there were all these basses lying around. So I just started playing them and started recording and stuff like that.
How young were you when you started?
SH: I was like maybe 12.
PT: I was about the same.
So how did you guys meet, since Penelope is from Australia and Stephen from Ohio?
PT: Yeah. I'd been traveling around the world pretty much for a couple of years and ended up landing literally on the other side of the street from Stephen. I rented an apartment across the road and yeah. It took circumnavigating the globe to land on the other side of the road [laughs].
Was that in New York already?
SH: Yeah. I had moved there from Ohio and her from Australia.
That's two very different backgrounds to form a band with.
PT: Yeah. But funnily enough after we started chatting we realized that though we were living in different worlds, we both kind of lived in parallel worlds. So our upbringings and musical tastes and other interests were very similar and quite uncanny.
SH: Yeah. We were both into the same kinds of music and film and everything like that before we met. And we weren't coming from cities. We were coming from like these rural
PT: Although, I was living in a country town in Australia. But my family always had us right on the sort of edge of town in a good way, right next to the rainforest pocket that's still there. So I would be hanging out in these little rainforest pockets, and Steve would be hanging out in cornfields [laughs].
SH: Yeah, talk about a culture difference. I mean... yeah.
You've said before in interviews that you feel like mystique is interesting to you and that you guys adore secrets. Even some of the videos you've made like for "Open your eyes," it seems like it's cloaked in mystery. Do you guys still keep everything under wraps? Or are you more open now?
PT: Yeah... pretty much. I still stand by that. In a world where information is easily accessible, it's really important to keep an air of mystery about whatever it could be, whether it be self or something else. Otherwise you're just too obvious, you know?
I agree. You've already remixed Cut Copy, Little Boots, Empire of the Sun and Peter Bjorn and John. Who's next on the list for remixing?
SH: Umm... we just did... it just came out a week or two ago... a Yeasayer remix, which was awesome to do because we like their music and we like the remix. So after that there's nothing. We're not doing remixes for now. Not to say we won't do them, but we only do them for bands we really like.
PT: We'll remix the Golden Filter [laughs].
SH: Yeah, we might remix ourselves [laughs]. But we're trying to... I mean we just started out as a band physically with "Solid Gold," and about four other songs that haven't been heard yet outside of like maybe labels and industry. Upon hearing that, labels started asking us if we wanted to remix their artists. And if we liked them, then yeah, we'd do it. And that's how it came about. But there's a bit of a misconception that some people think that we started out as remixes -- which is completely untrue.
I just meant since you guys have remixed a lot of big bands.
PT: We're super happy that we've been able to collaborate with such awesome artists on that level, but i think we're at a point where we'd rather be sitting in a studio with them, you know? And looking at each other and throwing ideas back and forth in the same room rather than remixing.
So if that's the case are there any bands that you hope to collaborate with in the near future, outside of remixes?
PT: We're not gonna divulge any information at this point [laughs]. But there's a couple.
SH: Yeah. We'd like to collaborate with Jimi Hendrix.
PT: Oh, no! Drat! [Laughs].
That's the one musician that I think it might be a little hard to collaborate with.
PT: Yeah. We'll bring in the Ouija board. [Laughs].
What were some of your musical inspirations when making your latest, debut album Voluspa?
SH: We have a few influences. Some of it is '70s and '80s disco, but there's a lot of other things going on, too. Like we're influenced a bit by bands like Health, that are a bit more noisy. And lots of things like that. And also like '60s groups and things like Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd and stuff like that, too.
PT: Yeah. Elements of that psychedelic era from the '60s and into the '70s. We're yeah the disco, but definitely rock, pop, things from the 80s and more electronic stuff.
SH: And like New Order as well. Stuff like that. So pretty much a little bit of everything.
PT: Yeah, which is probably why our album is a little bit of everything [laughs]. In a good way.
What do you have planned for your show in Miami on Saturday? Do you have anything special lined up for your third appearance?
PT: What do we have special planned for Miami? Hmmm....
SH: Well, we're doing a song called "Underdog" which we haven't done before, so it's fun.
PT: Yeah. We sort of changed it up from the album and we're doing that live. It's always kind of like... we're not really quite sure. It always depends on what the audience gives us and so what we're gonna give you.
SH: But we'd love to bring somebody with us like Jimi Hendrix. But he's not coming with us, no. [Laughs].
You're not gonna bring the Ouija board? Or maybe have him possess one of you?
SH: We have a cardboard cutout [laughs].
So what made you change the band's name from Lismore to the Golden Filter?
SH: Umm... it wasn't as much as just changing the name as it was... We were on a Lismore tour as well as the Golden Filter, so they both kind of existed at the same time for about a month. But it's just different music. So we had a different name. We named it after some lyrics in "Solid Gold" and proceeded to move forward with that and then ended up killing off the other band.
So you were both in two different bands that had two completely different sounds?
PT: Yeah. We think of it as like being bipolar or something. So it was like killing off one sort of side of ourselves and focusing on what felt essentially at the time like a fresh start, you know?
SH: When you have a band people expect a certain sound. But when that band started sort of like... at one point of your life, and you change, it's just sort of hard to change musical styles without changing the whole band and the name.
You mention that the name "the Golden Filter" comes from song lyrics. But what specifically in those lyrics made you name the band after them?
SH: Well. [Laughs]. I guess when we were doing "Solid Gold," we just threw something in there about the golden filter in there. And it became an ongoing joke whenever we were touring and meeting other bands that we like and talking about when we'd get a photo taken and it was all sunny and blurry, and just talking about like it being seen "through a golden filter." It's really sunny and more fun than it sounds right now.
PT: But it was also something that was very alluring to us like psychologically, you know?
Yeah. So it's almost like rose-colored glasses.
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PT: Yeah. Rose-colored glasses. So it was kind of a feeling of hope and positivity.
SH: Yeah. And we still didn't technically name ourselves until we sent it off to a couple of blogs and stuff like that. So I emailed Penelope and I was like, "I don't know what to call us." And she was like, "Just use the Golden Filter. Just don't think about it."