“The idea of late night music is appealing to me,” Hot Chip‘s Alexis Taylor tells NME. “I need music all the time and I think about it all the time, but I get a lot out of it late at night – whether I’m listening alone on headphones or DJing. Sometimes it can be quite intimate and detailed, when it’s dark and there’s nothing else to distract you from it.”
A band as renowned for their sweet and sentimental side as they are for their pumping dancefloor bangers, Hot Chip are ideal for soundtracking the witching hour and beyond – which is why it’s only fitting that they’ve been asked to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Air, Metronomy, Nils Frahm, Metronomy, The Flaming Lips, Floating Points, David Holmes, Bonobo, Jon Hopkins and Röyksopp in curating the next in the series of the legendary ‘Late Night Tales’ compilations. As well as some of their own choice selections by other artists, the new release will also feature three new Hot Chip tracks and a cover of The Velvet Underground‘s classic ‘Candy Says’ – which you can check out below.
“The music on there is meant to reflect the different experiences of what it’s like to experience music late at night,” continues Taylor, as he tells us what went into selecting the mix, the work of the late, great Philippe Zdar, and the band’s plans for new material.
Hello Alexis. What can you tell us about your approach to putting this mix together?
“There isn’t really a right or wrong about a late night listening experience. If we were to do a DJ set as Hot Chip, we tend to start very slow but still with some groove to the music and build up from there. There’s a part of what we do in our DJ sets which is reflected in the type of music that you get here. The Rhythm & Sound reggae dub record that came out of Berlin, that’s quite typical of something you might hear up play earlier on in our DJ sets. Some of the stuff that Felix [Martin] and Joe [Goddard] chose is kind of in the middle of the mix – like Suzanne Kraft, Fever Ray, PlanningToRock and Charlotte Adigery – that feels like where it really begins to get going, but we didn’t want to make it too banging. That just doesn’t feel like quite the right mood for a late night mood on a record.”
So there’s a lot more moody and weird stuff than people might expect?
“Something like the Pale Blue track, which is one of my favourite things on there, is still more of a sultry and dark song than just a mindless club banger. The Beatrice Dillon track doesn’t feel like it’s frenetic or too much to listen to. There’s something cerebral about it, but it’s body music as well. It’s interesting for her to have made something that crosses between those two worlds really intelligently. Some of them aren’t dance music at all – like the About Group one, Daniel Blumberg or Nils Frahm. Those are more sombre, beautiful or psychedelic. There are a lot of different styles on there, which I hope is what you’d expect from a Hot Chip compilation.”
Did you feel the need to use the record as a Trojan Horse and sneak in some cool, obscure stuff?
“Quite a lot of them are that, yes. The Christina Vantzou one and the song by Pale Blue, I don’t think a lot of people have heard them. We’ve not just put together a compilation of things that people would think that we like because we’re from the 2000s. It’s not a compilation of our contemporaries in an obvious sense, like LCD Soundsystem. It’s all trying to turn people on to things they might not have heard before, but not to be some finger wagging teachers.”
Tell us about the new and exclusive Hot Chip tracks on there.
“They really found a good home here. They are quite dark and work better for late night listening than for the dancefloor. The first one you hear, ‘Nothing’s Changed’, is us wanting to make a Jamaican dub track. Another new track, ‘Worlds Within Worlds’, has lead vocals from Joe and sounds like it’s related to ‘Candy Says’. There are important links between all these pieces of music, rather than it just being a random selection of things. The challenge was to make it work from start to finish as a seamless mix.”
“‘None Of These Things’ was one my favourite newer tracks that we’ve made, but it didn’t really seem to have another obvious home. There’s something futuristic about the production on it, while still being a ballad. Philippe Zdar co-produced these songs and really helped to bring that out in his dynamic mix of the track. He opened up the chorus so that it feels massive in comparison to the delicacy of the verses. That song also had something to do with this strange horror film called Surveillance by David Lynch’s daughter. This touches on some of the narrative and leans on a darker side than we’re used to. These songs make me think of some kind of place beyond our lives.”
And why did you choose to do this Velvet Underground cover?
“’Candy Says’ is one that myself and Joe covered at one of our very first Hot Chip gigs back when we were still at school. This song has been ingrained in mine and Joe’s brain and consciousness since 1994 and is still very important to us now. We haven’t radically changed the arrangement, but we’ve tried to keep the fragility and simplicity of the original with more modern production. The original is one of the best records ever made but we tried to make it more minimal and electronic, with strange tuning to the vocals in a way that’s not too sweet. We’ve tried to make it texturally interesting with modular synths and keep it quite uncluttered. Hot Chip music has a tendency to be quite busy.”
Did you write the new ones especially for this album?
“They weren’t written especially for this record, but we were only asked to do this at around the time we were queuing these tracks up for some kind of release. Some of them were part of the sessions for the last album and some were from after that. We were thinking of doing an EP called ‘A Laugh Full Of Melancholy’ which would have been an inversion of [2019 album] ‘A Bath Full oF Ecstasy’. We were going to group these tracks together with some others that were downbeat. We weren’t ashamed of them being downbeat, but they still have a pop, dance sensibility to them. We’re accepting of their melancholic mood. Then we were asked to do this compilation and I felt like these songs would help the compilation make sense.”
What can you tell us about the next Hot Chip album?
“I’ve been told to not say anything about anything new! We will certainly let people know when we have some new music to share. We’re just excited to be starting. We haven’t all been in the same room together since lockdown. Al’s been building a studio, I’ve been working on some new music, some of us have been getting together, Felix has had a baby, there are quite a lot of different things going on. We’re nowhere near a finished record and we have a long way to go yet.”
Hot Chip’s virutal performance at Dreamland in Margate on Saturday September 5 will be globally live streamed. For stream tickets, visit here.
The band’s’ ‘Late Night Tales’ mix will be released on October 2. Check out the full tracklist below.
1. Christina Vantzou – ‘At Dawn’
2. Hot Chip – ‘Nothing’s Changed’ (Exclusive track)
3. Rhythm & Sound ft. Cornell Campbell – ‘King In My Empire’
4. Pale Blue – ‘Have You Passed Through This Night’
5. Suzanne Kraft – ‘Femme Cosmic’
6. Fever Ray – ‘To The Moon And Back’
7. PlanningToRock – ‘Much To Touch’
8. Charlotte Adigery – ‘1,618’
9. Mike Salta – ‘Hey Moloko’
10. Matthew Bourne – ‘Somewhere I Have Never Travelled’
11. Hot Chip – ‘Candy Says’ (Velvet Underground cover version – Exclusive track)
12. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – ‘Who I Am & Why I Am Where’
13. About Group – ‘The Long Miles’
14. Beatrice Dillon – ‘Workaround Two’
15. Hot Chip – ‘Worlds Within Worlds’ (Exclusive track)
16. Daniel Blumberg – ‘The Bomb’
17. Nils Frahm – ‘Ode’
18. Hot Chip – ‘None Of These Things’ (Exclusive track)
19. Neil Taylor – ‘Finnegans Wake’ excerpt (Exclusive track)