Alison Goldfrapp: 'On my first American driving holiday, people kept asking if I wanted to buy a gun'
The singer on night swims, magical rocks and American gun culture
I love visiting Mallorca when I was four years old
I went there with my parents and remember the heady smell of pine trees and heat. We went there a lot because Dad was fond of walking and hiking, as well as being a sun worshipper.
My dad travelled a lot in those days
He was constantly taking us on “adventure” day trips where we would go off to the sea and go for swims, especially when it was a full moon. I learnt to swim in the sea and I have a vivid memory of me floating in the Med with my little orange armbands.
I did a solo trip through New Mexico two years ago
I visited Bisti Badlands and Shiprock in San Juan County. It was my first time driving in America and I made a conscious decision not to listen to music so I could enjoy the quiet and absorb my surroundings. I remember being asked a few times on that trip whether I wanted to buy a gun, which was fairly bizarre.
I’ve been touring since I was 20
While everything is an adventure, it’s often relentless. When I was stuck on a tour bus around Europe for days, I asked the driver to stop off at any lakes we passed. We would all go swimming, even in the rain, which was good for morale.
I’m a really early riser
I’m talking 5am or 6am, so breakfast is my favourite meal. I like really simple things. Eating a fried egg in the Greek mountains, while watching the sun rise after a long drive through the night, stands out.
I’m always searching for a good swimming spot
I prefer swimming at dawn or when there’s a full moon. I’ll jump in the car and go to the woods at Selborne, near where I grew up in Hampshire, or Stourhead [in Wiltshire] where I went for the first time last year. We went at dusk and it was stunning.
I have a curiosity about rocks
It goes back to my early childhood and the mythical landscapes in art and alpine imagery I saw. I’m intrigued by the drama and sublime qualities of massive, impenetrable landscapes as well as the micro qualities of rock formations and patterns.
My favourite city at the moment is Vienna
I went there specifically to visit one of the world’s best rock collections at the Wiener Naturhistorisches Museum. It’s a great city to go to on your own because everyone is so friendly and welcoming. I love the café culture.
My last trip to France was special
The Matisse Chapel in Vence, in the south of France, is a place I’d wanted to see for years, so I was really excited to spend New Year there with my partner. We had the most perfect day: the low winter sun was shining deeply through the blue and yellow stained-glass windows. We also hiked in the Alpes-Maritime and had a picnic at the highest point.
I love the Aeolian Islands
Stromboli and Salina sit off Sicily are where Il Postino was filmed. There is something special about knowing that you are never far from the water. I relish the simplicity of an island setting and there’s a great combination of volcanic activity and swimming.
I went to Ghent in Belgium just before lockdown
It was for my friend Gary Hume’s new show at the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens. It’s located in a cool Thirties suburb called Sint-Martens-Latem, just outside the city.
I keep going back to Gotland in Sweden
Originally it was to pay homage to Ingmar Bergman, but then I fell in love with the wild beauty, peace and peculiar rock formations. I recently stayed at the Fabriken Furillen hotel, which was previously a limestone factory. I’d recommend it if you want a strong architectural experience.
I’ve found myself seeking hot destinations as I’ve got older
I used to be drawn to snow-filled landscapes. I loved the quiet and the stillness. Iceland was fabulous – I once climbed down into the dormant Thrihnukagigur volcano. The colour forms surreal layers as you descend to the magma floor.
I went down sinkholes in the Santa Barbara cenotes in Mexico
It was like looking down into the abyss. A taxi dropped me in the middle of nowhere, so when I climbed down into the darkness it was just me, the fishes and the bats.
I photographed and filmed in Fuerteventura
That was for our most recent album, Silver Eye. It’s one of my favourite islands with its uninhabited landscape, views and big skies. I’m thinking about how to get there by boat and then drive.
Right now, I’m dreaming of Peru
It is mainly the rock formations and desert that appeals. I’d like to start in Chile, drive across the Atacama, do some stargazing and then cross over into Peru.
Alison Goldfrapp’s It’s A Strange Day campaign donates all profits from the sale of merchandise she designed (for Goldfrapp’s 2020 Felt Mountain: The 20th Year Tour) to the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund. For more information, see goldfrapp.com