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A Chip Off The Old Pop
They’re the brainy electro stalwarts whose smart, emotive music look set to weather the ages. Whatever you do, though, don’t mention the ‘N-’ word to Hot Chip .
Ed Power, 28 Aug 2012
There’s this odd dance you end up doing when interviewing Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor. What you really want to talk about is his band’s reputation for über-nerdiness, a collective persona honed in a thousand photoshoots in which Hot Chip goof around in silly spectacles and oversized shell-suits. But he is known to be highly sensitive to journalistic critiques of his dress sense. Ask him flat out about his geeky tendencies and the worry is he’ll go into a sulk. You have to build up to it.
Luckily, there are some fascinating tertiary topics for us to get stuck into. A few days before our chat, for instance, Taylor gave a vaguely controversial interview in which he more or less dissed N-Dubz singer turned X-Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos for baldly stating that the break-up of the band had made it harder to pay her mortgage. The way the internet’s reporting it, you’d think he’d called around to her house and daubed something rude on her window.
“I was speaking about the way people are nowadays very honest in terms of talking about the consequences of a record deal, or what have you, coming to an end and that being a problem for their mortgage,” he says. “I’m sure that is exactly the reality for the lady from N-Dubz. In the context of the conversation I was having with the journalist in question I was remarking that some people seem motivated by the short-term gains of having stardom, rather than loving records and wanting to make them. Who is to say which is more valid? In one sense, I’m quite impressed by people who say they can’t pay the mortgage now that their band’s broken up.”
He’s worried he might be coming across as a snob. Just to be clear, he does not have issues with throwaway pop music. Some of it he loves.
“I don’t even have a problem with bad pop,” he notes. “I don’t have a grand take on any of this. It’s all valid. If something offends my ears, I simply turn it off.”
Hot Chip, the greatest British exponents of wry electro tune-age since the Pet Shop Boys, are, in contrast to Tulisa and her ilk, around for the long haul. They’ve just put out their fifth album, In Our Heads, possibly their finest to date. It’s also their first release since leaving EMI for heavyweight indie Domino. Upon quitting a major, musicians are often quick to heap derision on their former pay-masters. Taylor offers a more nuanced insight into life under the corporate boot-heel.