Interview: Hot Chip
We speak with co-frontman Joe Goddard before the release of new album 'In Our Heads' next week.
Well-mannered d-floor kings Hot Chip, who enjoy Coogi sweaters and still record in their bedrooms, have a new album coming out next week called In Our Heads. They've released two singles from the new record so far — 'Night and Day' (Lara Stone starred in the video) and the dizzying 'Flutes' (see below).
We caught up with co-frontman Joe Goddard (who we've previously interviewed for his 2 Bears side-project) to discuss hypothetical identity-swapping and the technicalities of taking a synthesiser onto a desert island.
Jerico Mandybur: What’s one song that you really wish you’d written, but you didn’t because you weren’t born yet?
Joe Goddard: There’s so many. There’s a track on the second Sister Sledge album called ‘Pretty Baby’ and it’s just a fantastic song. It’s produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards from Chic, and so the production’s amazing. The material, the lyrics of the song, relates to a mother talking to her little girl about her growing up, and it’s so touching. They're really powerful lyrics, and it's an unusual subject. It’s saying that the mum knows best for her girl, better than anyone else, and she’s worked hard to give the little girl whatever she needs in life, and it just seems so honest, and good.
I’m going to have to YouTube that when I get off the phone to you.
Yeah! You should do. It’s really cool.
You know the BBC radio show Desert Island Discs? You haven’t been on it yet have you?
Not yet, but I would love to.
OK, well say you’re on it right now. What’s your choice for one song, one book and one luxury item that you’re taking to your desert island?
It would be good to have some music that you wouldn’t get bored with after a few listens. I’ve been listening to this guy Arvo Pärt, he’s a modern classical composer from Estonia. I’ve been listening to him a lot. He has an excellent CD called Tabula Rasa by him. It’s quite minimal. It’s violins and piano, and really, really beautiful. I think I could listen to that for a long time — try to understand it, try to work it out.
‘Tabula Rasa’ means blank slate as well, doesn’t it? So it’s kind of something you can project onto, depending on your mood.
Yeah, I have heard that! That makes sense. You could definitely listen to it in a lot of situations, like on a desert island. I wouldn’t know what those situations are, on a desert island — breaking up a coconut, catching a monkey...
Fighting a boar.
[Laughs] Yeah, definitely. As for a book, I’ve been reading Jonathan Franzen. I read Freedom last year and I’m just finishing The Corrections now. I think those books are amazing, they're the first that came to mind. Freedom is really good, I’d probably take that. And luxury item... I guess I’d take a synthesiser. I'd need a solar-powered one, with an internal speaker, to make sure that I could actually hear it, otherwise it would be pretty useless. You can have a lot of fun with synthesisers.
Sounds like an island of good times.
I think my book is probably a bad choice, actually, because I don’t know how many times I could read it before I got completely bored of it. Some people on that show say “the complete works of Shakespeare”, but that’s kind of cheating.
The next issue of Oyster has been completely produced by women, featuring only women. If you could be any woman, alive or dead, who would you be?
I think a music-related person, like Nina Simone. She was massively talented and has this amazing voice. Her piano playing is just really sublime, so that would be pretty amazing. I don’t think she was the happiest of people though, so I guess that would be difficult.
One does get that impression.
Yeah. It’s a blessing and a curse, but I’d love to be able to sing and play the piano like that.
Why is the title of the album In Our Heads?
There’s a couple of references to dreams or thoughts, and that line appears in one song. So that kind of ‘internal world’ runs through it as a theme in some ways.
Would you say that the album’s contemplative in tone?
Yeah. I hope also hope there’s a ‘sound world’ that you’re kind of invited into when you put the album on, which is a nice idea. The title reminds me of Brian Wilson in some ways. He had this whole incredible imaginative world in his head, and that’s something that I really like. It’s kind of child-like in a way. On a more practical level, for the last three albums, we’ve just called the album one of the song titles, and we didn’t want to do that again.
In the context of the other records, do you think there’s an evolution at work?
I think there’s an evolution because we’re learning about being songwriters and producers. The song writing and the production is the strongest on this record... Essentially we’re about honing our craft over a long period.
What was the funnest song to work on for this album?
Thinking about making a lot of these tracks feels really fun. We had a really good time working on this stuff; we only worked on each track for two or three days at a time. Some tracks were pretty much finished after a few days, so it never got to the point where making the track felt boring, or like we’d lost interest in it. It all felt kind of fresh and good. If I had to pick one, I really enjoyed recording ‘Let Me Be In’. We had a good time doing that. Everyone contributed in really good ways to that song and it just felt like a really good feeling in the studio.
In Our Heads will be out on June 12.