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The Root Note
GGOOLLDD singer Margaret Butler never could resist a spectacle. Even during her years as a clothing designer, she came to realize she was more excited by the planning and production involved in fashion shows than by the clothes themselves. In GGOOLLDD, a synth-pop band that cut its teeth playing Milwaukee house parties before quickly graduating to bigger stages, Butler found an even more hands-on outlet for her inner showman: a canvas as glittering as any fashion show, but at once louder and much more intimate.
“For a while I was hand-making all of my own costumes for our shows, and I still make some of them,” Butler says. “There have been dozens of rehearsals where I’ll be on the floor with my microphone, sewing while we practice.”
Years after the group’s 2014 debut EP $Tandards$, those performer’s instincts continue to drive the band, albeit in some very different directions. Time has trimmed the group from a five-piece to a trio, and the music, in turn, has grown fiercer. On GGOOLLDD’s new album Here We Are, the group’s synth-rock—“dungeon disco” is their preferred term—is still pop-forward, but now it’s darker, nastier. The guitars snarl, and so does Butler. As she tells it, she’s spent the last four years growing progressively more pissed off, and on Here We Are, she makes no attempts to suppress the internalized rage that’s rattled in her head every day since 2016.
GGOOLLDD never wanted to be a political band, and frankly, they still don’t want to be one.
But these songs were born of need. On tracks like “Amen/Hey Men” and “Dressing Doll,” Butler calls out right-wing hypocrisy with the shiv-like candor of the great riot grrrl classics.
Are they worried that their more loaded, political turn will undercut the ebullience and euphoria that’s always been central to their appeal? Not really. They’re still GGOOLLDD. Any music they make will always contain a degree of escapist spectacle.
“There’s a reason that I made the band name obnoxious and huge and in all caps,” Butler says. “That’s the vibe we’re trying to give off. Once you’ve established that, it’s kind of hard to fuck it up.”