Published Jun 03, 2013Whether he's participating in all-star collaborations or composing original soundtracks, Jon Hopkins is never short on inspiring work. After the success of his 2009 full length album, Insides, the emerging UK producer has gone on to work with some of the biggest names in the business. On the eve of his fourth studio album's release, Hopkins once again finds himself immersed in life on the road. Having garnered a newfound appreciation for the dance floor, he's gearing up for tour with a fresh approach to playing live.
You were just in New York playing a show with Four Tet. Did you get an opportunity to pop by the Red Bull Music Academy?
Yes, actually. I didn't know much about it, but Kieran brought me round. Pretty mind-blowing stuff. It was pretty great to see so much being invested in alternative music. There were eight studios up there. One room in particular, downstairs, it seemed all they were doing was recording the noises of these caged birds and various fish tanks ― pretty incredible stuff.
You'll be doing a fair bit of touring from this point on as you gear up for the release of Immunity. I think the most notable evolution with this record is its dance floor-centric themes. Domino has even gone as far as labelling some of the tracks as "club-friendly." Was that your intent?
I think so. Not for just the sake of trying something else though, more because it's something I had been exposed to a lot over the last few years of touring Insides. That album wasn't very danceable in its original form, but when I started playing more and more clubs, my set evolved. I also got to experience other live sets, and ended up getting a lot more interested in what made things work in that environment. The decision wasn't particular conscious, as I tend to work on instinct, but the one thing that was clear was that I was keen to work out how to make an addictive sounding rhythm, one that propels you in a way that you don't want it to stop.
Were you considering how you wanted this music performed while writing the album?
Perhaps a little bit. Again, I try and keep any thoughts of destination for the music out of my head and just make it, but there is something really good about keeping in mind what will work on stage, because it's very important that you'll be able to enjoy yourself.
Can you elaborate on some of the recording process? I recently read you made a point of incorporating as many real-world sounds into the album as possible.
Part of the motivation behind the album was to attempt to not make it sound like it was produced by a machine, even though it was (laughs). I grew tired of hearing the same sounds, same drum kits everywhere I went. I found myself sampling things around the house, from tapping a piano and drumming on the desk, to using a cheap tambourine and salt and pepper shakers. Anything I could find, really.
At the end of the month you'll be back over here for Montreal's MUTEK Festival. You've been a bit of a mainstay for the festival's program.
Yes, I've had the opportunity to perform at their Barcelona and Mexico editions. This will be my second time playing in Montreal for them. It's a great organization and I'm grateful to be able to continue to work with them.
What can we expect from your performance this year?
Ideally, I'd like to try and create a hypnotic experience for the crowd [by] extending the songs on the album and working deeper into them. It's really dependent on how the crowd is on the night, but I've allowed myself a fair bit of freedom to improvise. I'll be making a conscious effort to keep the performance interactive, incorporating live elements [to] bring things to life a little bit. I want to keep it from feeling like just a man behind a laptop, so I'll be putting a lot of energy into that side of it.
What's next? Anything in particular that you're looking forward to this year or next?
[There are] a lot of things in the pipeline. I have a lot of shows booked right through until November. I also did a couple of film scores in the last year, and one of those is coming out in the next few months. [It's] a film called How I Live Now, directed by Kevin MacDonald, who was behind the film The Last King of Scotland and various other films. There will likely be a soundtrack album for that with a collaboration I'm not allowed to mention quite yet, but I'm pretty excited about that.