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Goat: “As long as you respect our traditions and our will to keep anonymous, you can all join in”

Goat: “As long as you respect our traditions and our will to keep anonymous, you can all join in”

08 August 2013, 11:30
Words by Sam Lee

Where do you start with a band like Goat? Not only are they one of the most enigmatic and intriguing acts to emerge in the last few years, but they’re also one of the most exciting and critically-acclaimed, featuring in countless ‘End of Year’ lists in 2012 for their album World Music – and with a blistering live show to boot.

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that they never reveal their names. Anonymity is key to Goat who, like fellow Swedes The Knife, play live only occasionally, masking their faces whenever they do. However, we manage to pin one of them down for a rare chat while they are waiting to board a flight to Poland, having a beer, a glass of white wine, a Jägermeister – and a shrimp sandwich.

“I don’t like flying,” the nameless band member adds, as if to justify the need for all three alcoholic drinks.

It’s a surprisingly grounded statement (literally) from a member of such a far out and worldly collective, but it quickly becomes apparent that despite all appearances, Goat (or at least this particular member) perhaps aren’t quite as outlandish as you might think. When asked how being involved with such a unique group affects their day-to-day lives, the response is disappointingly ordinary.
“It doesn’t affect our daily lives as much as people think. We don’t speak about Goat to anyone we meet.”

And, when questioned further as to what it is they do in their spare time, the response is even more curt than before.

“I don’t know, the same as you I guess.”

So the veil of mystery surrounding Goat isn’t showing any signs of being lifted just yet. But in a time when celebrities and musicians seem willing to share every miniscule aspect of their daily lives on Twitter and in the tabloids, Goat’s attitude comes as something of a pleasant change. Of course, they’re not the only musicians to have shunned the likes of Twitter, but their reason for doing so is not part of some wider program or grandiose statement. In fact, it’s refreshingly straightforward. “We don’t want to,” says whoever we’re speaking to. “We are not entrepreneurs and we don’t spend all of our time promoting ourselves. We don’t care about Twitter. We make music, that’s it. That is what is interesting.” And as for those musicians who are less reluctant to share everything and anything with their fans? “What other musicians or artists do is up to them.”

The mood becomes noticeably warmer when discussing the band’s music itself. Our interviewee describes this past summer as being “beautiful,” and speaks of the lack of egos in Goat, noting that “the lesser the egos and the bigger the togetherness, the happier the collective.” However, quite how this works in practice is yet another mystery, as it seems as though nobody is even sure exactly how many members there are in Goat. “I feel there are between thirty and forty core members. And I think everyone feels differently. There are a lot of people involved, both musically and spiritually – as long as you respect our traditions and our will to keep anonymous you can all join in.”

That spiritual side of Goat is something that has loomed over the band like a spectre since their inception. Tales of voodoo magic and whispers of century-old curses have only intensified the mysterious aura surrounding the band, but they’re not particularly forthcoming when quizzed on the subject. “Korpilombolo is an old village, and both good and evil spirits have their home here. We don’t exclude anything or anyone – that’s an old tradition. We have been asked not to talk about the religious aspects of Goat any more, since people from our village want to keep living far away from publicity.”

It’s not entirely clear whether this is the truth or just a deliberate ploy to add fuel to the already raging fires of speculation but, if it is the latter, it’s certainly working.

After this weekend’s appearances at Øya, Way Out West and Flow Festival (a festival that they admit they weren’t too familiar with, but “have heard a lot of good things about,” including “how they work with the environmental issues,”) they are due to take some time off touring to get back into the studio.

Whereas most bands would be feeling the pressure after an album as well-received as World Music, Goat are as down-to-earth as ever when reflecting on the success that they’ve seen so far. “We are very thankful to everyone who has taken our music to their hearts. I mean, we didn’t expect anything but we are very grateful for everything,” our interviewee says. “We don’t read a lot of interviews or reviews since we have other things to do – we are happy for it, but life goes on as normal and that is how we want it to be. For us our real happiness doesn’t lie in the attention Goat gets.”

“We are planning another album since we had a lot of fun recording World Music. But making music should be easy and effortless, so that is how we approach it. We can’t affect what people will think, so we don’t care about that. As long as we are happy then there is no problem. Of course we are aware of the fact that people will compare the next album with World Music, but we just can’t let that affect us. We’re just gonna have a good time making songs and recording them.”

For a band as complex as Goat, it almost seems like too basic a mantra, too simple a conclusion. But, for all of their mystery, it’s hard not to be left with the lasting impression that the members of Goat themselves are in fact remarkably unassuming, humble and, well, normal.

That said, there is still the unanswered question of the curse…

Goat will play the following European tour dates:

09/08 ØYA, Norway
10/8 WAY OUT WEST, Sweden
11/8 FLOW, Finland
17/8 PSTEREO, Norway
18/8 LOWLANDS, Holland

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