HOT CHIP INTERVIEW

September 17, 2019 3:52 PM

Slightly campy and undeniably dance-y, London’s Hot Chip has ushered in the nu-80’s dance music revival for more than a decade; Now, with their sixth full-length, In Our Heads, the ever-transforming quintet tops off their cocktail of achingly personal synth symphonies. We spoke with Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard at the head of their international tour about the inspirations for their electro orchestrations.

Hot Chip is both an outlet for songwriting and an exploration in music technology and sound manipulation. When you’re creating new material, what’s the interaction between composition and synthesis?

Joe: When we’re writing music, ideas come from the technology that we’re using to write. New synthesizers or drum machines present you with ideas and inspire you, they give you a burst of energy or excitement that leads to songwriting.

Alexis: Maybe something that we don’t think of as modern technology as well, like different bits of ethnic percussion instruments or sounds that feel exciting to you. By the same token, by working together you come into the middle of someone else’s idea and you can engage with it. It’s about different things fitting together or finding things that don’t fit together and putting them together anyway.

What are some non-musical inspirations of yours?

J: Family. In a very obvious way, there are things very directly related to my family, children and wife on the last two or three records. Actually, on the first album, there’s a track that’s dedicated to my wife who was then my girlfriend.

A: I’m inspired by people and being alive in the world, not just other records. We’re not restricted to just listening to music. Having said that, music is the main thing that we spend our time thinking about and obsessing over. Some- times it’s hard to even step outside of that world.

By now, you’ve played several major festivals and large venues. Is touring your music an entirely different experience than recording it?

J: We treat them in quite different ways. In writing our music, Alexis and I get together or we develop ideas individually and send them to each other. When it comes to playing those tracks live, we don’t try to imitate the record, we allow the songs to be played differently, by different people using different instruments. You do have moments where you’re playing on stage and the joy and excitement of playing together gives you ideas for recording.

It seems transformation plays a central role for the group: Alexis has a solo album, film scores, and a side project, About Group. Al Doyle was in LCD Soundsystem and New Build, and Joe Goddard plays with The 2 Bears. You’ve also hosted a slew of guest members, and jumped labels. 

What keeps Hot Chip together through the changes?

A: The core of the group is a love of making music together. It’s been going on for years and years. It doesn’t feel threatened by the fact that you’re doing other things. It’s something we’ve invested a lot of time and energy in, making it as good as it could possibly be. We’re committed to it. 

J: Before all these changes, the band’s existed for a few years back at school. There’s always been a flux. For the last ten years, there’ve been five people involved that we feel very attached to. That was the nice thing about making this last record, everyone made time for it and came back together to do it, and it was a joyful thing. It’s very healthy for people to do other stuff aside from that.

The name “Hot Chip” (meaning, literally, hot French fries) originated as a knee-jerk response to someone asking what you call yourselves. The name has stuck; do you think it’s gained any sort of significance?

A: I think it’s just a stupid phrase and we’ve got away with having it for years and years. People have to print it and write it on walls now. It doesn’t have any greater meaning now and it didn’t have any then.

J: It’s evidence of the silliness of Hot Chip.∞

 

Written by AARON LINDENBERG

Photography DAWIDH ORLANDO

Production, casting MARBLES & MARBLES: CHIKA FISSEL. 

Sunglasses JEREMY SCOTT by LINDA FARROW PROJECTS.

Edited by NANAMI INABA

 

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