You have just inaugurated your new 4GN3S label with an EP of your own. Previously, you have run the Perfectly Isolated imprint. Why did you start a new label?
Stephen: When we were living in NYC, we started Perfectly Isolated mainly to self-release our own music in America.
Penelope: Since we now live in London, we just decided to start fresh and create a new label as we feel like we’re in a new phase of existence.
In a recent interview, Penelope has said that you are now „more creatively free and not at all bogged down by industry perceptions“. What does this creative freedom entail for you – and how can you liberate yourselves from the constraints of the music industry in these times?
Penelope: Being creatively free from industry perception means not worrying about what anyone thinks of what you create while creating it. We definitely aren’t opposed to working with people in the music industry, but for The Golden Filter, we always have one hundred percent creative control before anyone hears a finished song.
Stephen: We do appreciate how A&R guidance, mixing help, and production help can work for some artists, but that isn’t something we are looking for. But also, if “the music industry” includes the labels and people we work with, then I suppose we are part of it on a small level.
For the Restraint EP on Jennifer Cardini’s Dischi Autunno, you restricted yourself to working with a TR-808 as the only drum machine. Why that instrument in particular?
Stephen: We use the 808 a lot… Well actually, samples of a friend’s 808. It just so happened that the tracks Jennifer liked mostly had an 808. “Restraint” actually uses a 707 for the kick and snare, but who’s counting…
Restraint’s lyrics are equally minimalistic, but at the same time seem to deliberately construct contradictions. „Silence“ works with dichotomies like „yes / no“, while the title track demands „don’t restrain me“. What informed the lyrical themes of Restraint?
Stephen: „Silence“ was an idea that we have from time to time, to just use a list of words. We’ve played with lists since the beginnings of The Golden Filter, and I think this one mainly uses words that play upon power exchanges.
Penelope: For „Restraint“, I was using the symbolism of sub/dom sexual tension to describe the internal struggle to assert one’s self in society – the constant shifting of power back and forth. Essentially how I see myself as a woman having to deal with certain things in the world.
You usually play live, alternating between club events and more traditional concert formats like on your forthcoming tour supporting Sharon van Etten. How do you approach these sometimes quite different environments and audiences when preparing for your live sets?
Stephen: Our club sets can be seamless and straight up danceable all the way through, even with vocals. However, we don’t actually get many club shows because most club promoters are afraid to book live acts in favour of DJs… And often the same DJs over and over. For concert shows, the tempos can fluctuate a lot more, and we play more of our vocal tracks. Penelope can give more of a performance as well on the tracks she doesn’t play synths on. You have to remember that in a concert environment, people didn’t come mainly to dance, they came to listen and watch specific artists perform, and they probably aren’t on drugs… I think it takes a lot more cerebral energy to engage an audience in a concert environment.
What was the idea behind your contribution to our Groove podcast?
Stephen: We wanted to make this mix about texture more than about beats or styles of music. We put mostly new things in there that seem like they could be timeless, along with a few old favourites that we think are also timeless.
Last but not least: Where can we see you live in the near future and what are your plans as producers and label owners?
Stephen: Live, basically we’re spending a lot of time preparing for the 17 date Sharon Van Etten tour in the UK and Europe. We’re super excited about it, and not quite sure what to expect due to us being so electronic, but the venues are all so beautiful and amazing! We’re releasing an LP in the first half of this year. 4GN3S so far is only releasing music by us, but when we get further off the ground, we’d love to be in a position to release music by others. Penelope is releasing a special secret LP on Houndstooth very soon, with some solo live shows, as well as releasing her third LP late this year.
Stream: The Golden Filter – Groove Podcast 199
01. The Golden Filter – Spoken Intro
02. Not Waving – Emotion 1.4 Decontamination
03. Pavel Milyakov – Bolotniy
04. ? – ?
05. Enea Pascal – Papa Boy
06. Black Merlin – Machine
07. Grebenstein & Seefried – Raging Tender
08. Cosey Fanno Tutti – Tutti
09. Cabaret Voltaire – Sensoria (12” Version)
10. Stallions Stud – Promising Promises
11. ? – ?
12. Jensen Interceptor & Assembler Code – Abstract Model
13. Throbbing Gristle – What A Day (Obb Globelyn Rework)
14. Daniel Avery – Oyster
15. General Ludd – Owl
16. Bergsonist – Heat
17. LAPS – Who Me – (Duppy Gun Remix)
18. Overmono – Quadraluv
19. Farah – Baby Girl
20. Hammer – Jupiter (Synths)
21. This Mortal Coil – FYT