Interview: Hot Chip

Over and over.

For UK’s Hot Chip, success hasn’t come overnight. Over the past 15 years, these Brits have solidified their style in the alt-dance scene with a fusion of diverse electronic sounds accompanied by introspective lyrics. Now, they are finally returning to Australia for Sugar Mountain, while also playing a couple of headline shows around the country. We sat down with vocalist Alexis Taylor to chat about their sixth studio release Why Make Sense? and the role fashion plays in the music industry. 

Where did you seek inspiration for Why Make Sense?
Some of the inspiration came from events happening around us. You know, from reading newspapers to watching the TV – things that you can’t really ignore. And some were from direct personal experiences. That’s more from a lyrical side of things. [Sonically] there was inspiration from certain hip hop records, RnB records and also disco music. Inspiration also partly came from just exploring new sounds. 

I find there is an emotional connection to a lot of your songs on this album. Do you feel this is an aspect of Hot Chip’s music that separates you from other artists in similar genres?

From speaking to people and what you gather from journalists you meet over the years, people are still struck by the fact that there is a kind of lyrical intimacy against a backdrop of quite optimistic and fun pop/disco music. For me, I see quite a lot of examples of that in music, before Hot Chip. I think of records from Donna Summer, New Order or The Beatles where there is a variety of styles and sounds, or a playfulness between what is happening in the words and the music. I don’t particularly think we are unusual for doing it, but maybe the way that we do it, the tone of it, is our own. 

You’ll be back in Australia next year for Sugar Mountain. What can we expect from your headline set?
It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve been in Australia, so we are really excited to be returning. We will have a new, revised set by then. What you can expect is a dance party atmosphere, which is what we always try to create. 

Do you think music and fashion are intertwined? How do you think your music reflects your style?
I suppose our own music is very eclectic. Our sense of fashion is like that as well, really. Each member of the band has quite a different look. Some dress slightly more classic, while others are more into bolder and playful clothing. I think that is really similar to what is happening in the music. The willingness to let the diversity coexist and be shaped into something more coherent. 

I read that you and your wife happily share clothes from time to time. Do you think it’s important for our society to have a stronger push towards gender-neutral clothing?
I have never really had that strong feeling of wanting to make other people dress in a particular way or consider things being better if they’re gender neutral. I suppose bringing up our own child we were quite anti-stereotyping in terms of clothing, you know like pink clothing for girls and blue clothing for boys. So yeah, in our own small world we were trying to make things more gender neutral. In terms of what I wear, I wouldn’t say I am a cross-dresser as such, but I do share things with my wife and vice-versa. 

What is it like being a musician now in 2015 with a family, compared to say 10 years ago after your full-length debut?
The main thing that drives me is the enjoyment of making records and the determination to make new records. That hasn’t changed, luckily. Having a family changes things in massive ways, but we have been lucky enough to be able to include our family as part of the touring lifestyle. Of course it is different now, but there are things that stay the same, and predominately that is a desire to try and make something new in each record. The writing and the recording processes, and that feeling of excitement when you first come up with the beginnings of a new song idea, that feeling hasn’t changed since I was 12 years old. 

Hot Chip are perfoming at Sugar Mountain and touring nationally throughout January 2016. For tour dates visit frontiertouring.com 


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