Hot Chip, out of London, England, is a contemporary band that plays a style of music not easily categorized in one genre. Hot Chip members play live instruments and sing on stage, but also use synthesizers and computer-programmed vocals and effects. Quite often labeled as an indie electronica group, Hot Chip was formed by two childhood friends. By 2008 the band consisted of five multi-instrumentalists with totally unique styles that somehow fit together.At home on the hipster indie electronic-rock label DFA Records (co-owned by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy), Hot Chip's music begins on a computer, offering songs that still sound intimate. As James Ryang wrote in Nylon: "Few bands can so effectively make both your a--shake and your heart break."
Friends since childhood, Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard began making music on their computers as Hot Chip while still in high school in the late 1990s. While Goddard programmed and made dance and hip-hop beats on his laptop computer, Alexis would add his own vocals and guitar, using various keyboards. After high school, Taylor and Goddard sold their own self-recorded (burned on CD-Rs) CDs of singles and EPs. In 2000 they sold nearly 200 copies of the EP Mexico, and followed up with another CD-R titled Sanfrandisco E-Pee. Their friend Owen Clarke began doing Hot Chip's artwork, and more often than not would be around during recordings. He ended up adding tracks to their music and later became a member of the band. Clarke played guitar, bass, synthesizer, and percussion at Hot Chip's live shows.
In 2004 Hot Chip signed a deal with DFA Records to release the now famous single "Over and Over." A link to the masters of electronic-rock at DFA pushed "Over and Over" to become one of the hottest dance tracks of the year. The single was followed up by two more DFA singles of different remixes of the song. Hot Chip then signed to Astralwerks, a division of EMI, to make their first full-length album. In 2005 they released Coming on Strong (including "Over and Over"), which was recorded in Goddard's home. The album sounded like it was made on home computers with a load of samples and keyboards. And it was. "Hot Chip emerged … with a weirdly inventive sound (comatose electro-soul) and a weirdly irritating persona (nerdy tragic clowns)," wrote Sia Michel in the New York Times. Indeed, Hot Chip's musical and visual identity also stemmed from being an outsider group and embracing that status. The group wanted to make albums using their own devices, which meant at their homes instead of in a large recording studio. This fit the style of "laptop pop" that was getting kids to dance again at that time.
A year later, Hot Chip followed up with the DFA/Astralwerks album The Warning. Michel described The Warning as, "Imagine the Postal Service, but far more danceable and quirkily experimental. Hot Chip's members have matured into great songwriters without losing their goofy spirit." The album was nominated for a Mercury Prize in England. Journalist Dominic DeVito of Stylus wrote that the album was "a beguiling mix of electro-pop pathos and skittering floor fillers." Already semi-members of Hot Chip, Al Doyle and Felix Martin officially joined Hot Chip's touring schedule for The Warning. "We can all agree we like strange choices of instruments, strange melodies, strange ideas," Goddard told Ryang. Goddard more often than not played bass and sang, while Taylor, with his noticeably large eyeglasses and 1980s shirts, was usually the more-than-eccentric front man. Hot Chip's live performances added an entirely new vision not found on their records. Because each member of Hot Chip was multi-instrumental, they could move around to different instruments during their shows.
Hot Chip toured around the world and back again for The Warning. During Doyle's off times, he occasionally played guitar on the extensive international tour with LCD Soundsystem. The remainder of the group's rare downtimes was spent remixing songs for high-profile artists. Besides Hot Chip remixes, Taylor and Goddard were constantly being asked to remix songs on their laptop computers while on tour. "We've been doing so many remixes of other people ourselves over the past couples of years, and I'm starting to feel like there isn't that much of a point in the whole thing," Goddard admitted to DeVito. "Often, you find the original version of the song is the definitive version of the song and that remixes are often watered-down versions that never really get played. On the other hand, occasionally a great remix comes along and it's a fantastic thing."
For the first time, and for their third full-length album, Hot Chip recorded a handful of songs live as a band. The other tracks were separately worked on Goddard and Taylor's computers. Working as a band as well as solo added new elements to their indie-electronica sound. "If anything, [the live tracks are] a bit more frenetic and tribal and crazy," Goddard told DeVito. "There are also some quiet, folky songs. We're using a real piano a lot more on this record." Also for the first time, Hot Chip recorded much of the album in a real recording studio, although they still produced it themselves. "It ended up a bit more rock-y," Doyle told Ryang. "We enjoyed dirtying up the sounds a bit."
Two months into 2008, Hot Chip released Made in the Dark. "Using the philosophy that more is more, the riffs are bigger, the beats are bolder, and the melodies are more enchanting, creating an album that features both their most immediate hooks and their most intricate production," journalist Matt Fink wrote in Under the Radar. Made in the Dark incorporated multiple musical styles, from disco-metal guitar riffs to dance club jams, to R&B and indie pop ballads. At the same time, the group has embraced their nerdiness and individuality, instead of trying to be "cool." Will Hermes of Rolling Stone wrote that Made in the Dark was full of "catchy tunes, monster grooves, and lyrics resolving the heart-felt and the smarta--." Perfectly Hot Chip.
For the Record …
Members include Owen Clarke , guitar, bass, synthesizer, percussion; Al Doyle , guitar, bass, synthesizer, percussion, vocals; Joe Goddard , synthesizer, percussion, vocals; Felix Martin , synthesizer, drum machines; Alexis Taylor , vocals, guitar, synthesizer, percussion.
Group formed in London, England, c. 2000; signed to DFA Records, released single "Over and Over," 2005; signed to Astralwerks, released Coming On Strong, 2005; The Warning, 2006; Made in the Dark (DFA/ Astralwerks/EMI), 2008.
Addresses: Record company—Astralwerks/EMI, 101 Ave. of the Americas, 4th Fl., New York, NY 10019, Web site—Astralwerks Official Web site: http://www.astralwerks.com. Web site—Hot Chip Official Web site: http://www.hotchip.co.uk/site.
Mexico, Victory Garden, 2001.
Sanfrandisco E-Pee, Ringsting Recordings, 2002.
Coming On Strong, DFA/Astralwerks, 2005.
The Warning, DFA/Astralwerks, 2006.
Made in the Dark DFA/Astralwerks/EMI, 2008.
New York Times, June 19, 2006.
Nylon, February 2008.
Under the Radar, Winter 2008.
"Hot Chip: Made in the Dark," Rolling Stone,http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/album/18193914/review/18206653/made_in_the_dark (June 10, 2008).
"Interview: Hot Chip,"Stylus Magazine,http://www.stylusmagazine.com/articles/interview/hot-chip.htm (June 10, 2008).
Windish Agency Official Web site: Hot Chip, http://www.windishagency.com/artists/hot_chip (June 10, 2008).
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