Joe Goddard: “You have to pick sweets out of a tray of flour with your teeth.”

04.12.09

Joe Goddard’s a real hero. He plays in a band called HOT CHIP who changed music, and his new solo record that came out a few weeks ago is a personal and genuinely moving love letter to British dance music. We chatted a few weeks ago, and he is really, really nice.

Hi Joe!

Hi there.

So, could you tell me about the new record.

I’ve been working on this for about six year. That song Tropical Punch has been on my harddrive for about that long. From that song onwards, the album has taken a while to make. Some of these songs started as ideas for Hot Chip songs, and some of them were always for my record. I spent a long time choosing which songs were for the record and which fitted together. That’s where the title ‘Harvest Festival’ comes from – it reminded me of that thing at primary school where you have to bring in tins of food from home, and it’s invariably tins of peaches from the back of the cupboard.

One of things I love about the record is how free it sounds, especially compared the conscious perfectionism of Hot Chip’s music.

Doing this was really consciously removed from Hot Chip. The tracks are largely instrumental, they’re longer. Hot Chip is so filled to the brim with hooks and melodies and things to make it as poppy as possible, and it’s about creating these pure, perfect nuggets, whereas with the a little more little less structured and little rawer. And I really wanted to do that because a lot of my favourite dance tunes have that rawness to them, that crazy, slightly distorted sound – I prefer producers like Theo Parrish over people who have that overly polished, glossy sound, full of compression and treble, but I really prefer the more spacey dance music.

Your record has a certain irreverence that a lot of techno lacks.

I’m very keen for the slight playfulness and irreverence to come through in the music. I get annoyed at the overly serious nature of a lot of dance music, the way the artwork and everything has to be quite carefully considered to be “cool” – all dark, foreboding artwork and serious, abstract names for tracks, it seems like showing off, really. To wanted to do something a little more playful. Because these songs are instrumental dance music, the titles are actually quite arbitrary. It was a reaction to the packaging of a lot of modern dance music – I didn’t feel that need to elevate it. Music can be playful.

It’s weird isn’t it? Dance music is consumed with JOY in big letters, but ask someone to think of a DJ and they instantly imagine a rather moody chap against a brick wall.

With his hood up, yeah. When I go into Phonica to pick up records, they’re all invariably mono-chromed sleeves with minimal information, the track names vaguely pertaining to some dystopian future, and the guys making it are probably normal chaps, but they’re this need to pass it off as dark and mysterious. I don’t see why that’s necessary.

That irreverence strikes me as being rather British, and one of the things that runs through the album is this reflection of British dance music. Do you see it as a record centered in the dance music of London, and Britain wider?

Yeah it is a comment on dance music over the last ten years or so, and my development within that, starting from jungle to garage and me getting obsessed with house and techno.

It’s a very affectionate record.

Yeah, cheers. A lot of the stuff that I like has that emotional connection. Even stuff like Aphex Twin, when it’s nominally just instrumental techno is still incredibly warm and human, and he can get a huge amount of feeling into the music he makes, just by using melody well.

I really like those lines “The party’s over, I’m going home,” to totally misquote.

Yeah, I sort of planned it out like a night out really. Like it starts exciting, then it gets harder and more banging, then there’s a respite towards to the end. It was my comment on that point in the night when you’re back at someone’s house and it gets to about 7, 8 in the morning, and you begin to think about the next day and getting home. I always find that quite depressing in a way, that the birds are singing and sun’s rising and you realise the night’s over. I find that to be quite a difficult moment, when you realise that you’ve actually been talking bollocks for hours. So I wanted to do something about that feeling of slowly coming home to the person you left behind.

So, I’m contractually obliged to ask you about the new Hot Chip record.

Yeah we’re just finishing the mastering now, it should out early next year, and we’ll be touring around that time too. It’s the first time we’ve actually taken time off from touring to make a record, so I’m really excited. From the last one, we’re really happy with it, but it was quite an enormous, sprawling record, from quite hard stuff to rock, and we wanted to make something this time a bit morte focused and more of a piece, in terms of sonics and mood. It’s a little more POP as well, it doesn’t have the same range as the last one. It’s a bit more middle of the road.

You’ve done a lot of producing the last year. What stuff do you have coming up?

Yeah, I guess I’ve got into because people have asked me to help out. Just today I’m working with a rapper called Dels. Just done a couple of tracks for Kano’s new record, that was really fun. As a process, I think producing is my favourite thing in the world. My obsessions are often with producers, like J Dilla, Madlib, or Theo Parrish, or old disco producers like Patrick Adams or Walter Gibbons. Rather than listening to a band’s output, often I’ll go back through the producer’s output. I love the idea of having a sonic signature, I’d love to have that association. It’s what I’d like to do, and because a lot of us are getting more settled in the band, a few of us are married and stuff, so I’d eventua;y like to be touring a little less and producing more.

What’s your favourite village fete game?

I’ve been thinking a great deal about apple bobbing, becasue of the name of the song, and someone told me about a longer version of that game where you have toffee apples hanging from the string, so your face gets covered in sticky toffee, then you have to pick sweets out of a tray of flour with your teeth so the flour sticks to the toffee, then you go bobbing for apples so it washes off the mess. That’s like the extended version.

Wow, that’s intense. Like the English version of a tribal purification ritual.

Yeah! Exactly.

‘Harvest Festival’ is out now on GRECO ROMAN records.