Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip: Recording a World First

Jäger Soho, Jägermeister and Soho Radio’s collaborative music space, welcomed the immensely talented Alexis Taylor to the world’s first live broadcast of sessions cut directly to vinyl.

The station uses its bespoke vinyl lathe, hand crafted specifically for these sessions. Instead of just a normal radio production, Alexis teamed up with Jäger Soho to to produce something tangible, complete with all the perfect imperfections of a live recording.

The Soho Radio Vinyl Sessions are the real life renaissance of a musical medium. Combined with an immersive, 360 degree virtual reality recording, this session celebrates the intersection of new with old.

Words: The Versed
Media: Jagermeister

Beautiful Thing

Alexis Taylor is the genial and considered co-founder of Hot Chip. His calm demeanor does little to reflect the eye-bulging vastness of his musical career, nor the hectic lifestyle that this must involve. Hot Chip is merely the tip of Alexis’ musical iceberg.

He’s recently completed a live recording for Soho Radio with songs featured from his latest album, Beautiful Thing. He spoke with us briefly about what inspired him to produce this deeply moving construction.

“I was thinking about how you try and capture musical ideas that sometimes come to you as you fall asleep. The album is partly about me trying to remember the things that go on in my unconscious when I’m in a dreamlike state.”

 

The Hypnagogic State

The unconscious state to which “Beautiful Thing” was inspired…

Thomas Edison attributed many of his insights to the transitional state that exists between wakefulness and sleep. During the first five minutes of a regular sleep cycle brain activity begins to slow down; body temperature starts to drop; muscles relax; eyes move slowly from side-to-side. We lose awareness of our surroundings but we’re still easily jarred to wakefulness.

While you’re in this state, you can see visions and hallucinations of shapes, patterns, and symbolic imagery, hear noises including your own name or imagined speech and feel almost physical sensations that relate to what you spent the day doing.This trance-like stage of semi-wakefulness oozes throughout “Beautiful Thing.”

Beautiful Thing: A Defining Style

“I was demoing a lot material by recording a version of me into a phone, either accapelo, with a guitar or a small keyboard. I’d capture the beginning of ideas on tour and flesh them out later.”

This revisionist style has been a part of Alexis’ process for sometime. Indeed, Hot Chip once spoke about having 10-15 recordings going on at any one time, an approach that must feel like looking into a very personal office; piles of paper everywhere awaiting painstaking reconstruction. A seemingly indecipherable array of thought-starters known only to the organisers.

“You’re not just thinking about what I want to do you’re thinking about how do you collaborate, how do you make something related to the things we’ve done before.”

Balancing Personal Projects

“The hot chip project I think has always involved coming towards pop music somehow, whereas the solo music is related to pop music but it’s not necessarily aiming to be played in the same context as pop records. So maybe that changes what the music sounds like. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing, but I notice that I’m not even aiming at the mainstream a lot of the time with what I do on my own.

That is a different thing from hot chip, I think. We do actually try and tailor things to be more commercial but inventive, a kind of pop music that feels fresh but it’s not going against that. It’s definitely thinking about pop.”

Making Music: The Most Important Thing

“What I find pretty important about making music is that you have to know what you’re trying to say. There has to be something of your own that you’re trying to get off your chest. You can tell when people are brilliant musicians, but you can also tell when they’re still searching for what that thing is.”

Analog or Digital

“I started collecting vinyl when I was 15 and I haven’t stopped. I’m not against other formats but it’s nice to have something that you’re physically connected to.

“If you’ve heard, I don’t know, Beach Boys and Beatles records on vinyl they often do sound more pleasant to my ears than the clarity you might have in a digital recording. It may be that certain frequencies are less present or rolled off as you put music on to vinyl. They really do sound noticeably different.”

“And also as a fan of music, it’s nice to buy the format that the thing came out on the first time. A little Richard 7-inch is a nice thing to have.”