16th Annual Artist Survey: Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

16th Annual Artist Survey: Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip

Taylor on Kanye West, Childhood Birthday Parties and Vacations, His First Job, and the Stray Cat Who Broke His Heart

Mar 11, 2019
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For Under the Radar's 16th Annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year, plus some fun personal questions. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2018 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip.

Taylor, a founding member/lead vocalist in Hot Chip, released a new solo album, Beautiful Thing, in 2018 via Domino. Unlike 2016's Piano, which was a solo piano affair (and was accompanied by 2017's Life With(out) Piano), Beautiful Thing is more in line with his electronic work with Hot Chip. Tim Goldsworthy (of the labels Mo Wax and DFA, as well as the band UNKLE) produced the album, marking the first time Taylor has worked with an outside producer on a solo album (this is his fourth solo full-length). Hot Chip's last album was 2015's Why Make Sense?

For our annual Artist Survey we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the midterm elections, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, Kanye West visiting the White House, the #MeToo movement a year later, mental health conditions in the music industry, whether or not they have Flossed, childhood birthday parties and vacations, which Muppets character they are most like, whether or not they are going to The Good Place after death, and much more.

Top 10 Albums of 2018

1. Swamp Dogg: Love, Loss and Auto-Tune—Swamp Dogg returns and he is still a great songwriter, very moving and passionate, but this time he reminds me of Cher in a way I find quite pleasing.
2. Zongamin: O!—Susumu Mukai returns with strange and beautiful, tough and languid music. A real genius.
3. Liam Hayes: Mirage Garage—A wonderful return, all recorded to tape, released on cassette tape and sounding as good as his early releases as well as Bright Penny and all in between. Great to have more music from this man.
4. Daniel Blumberg: Minus—A really powerful and lovely record.
5. Will Oldham: Songs of Love and Horror—My favorite writer of songs returns to his old ones with just a guitar and still brings new life to them.
6. Prince: Piano & A Microphone 1983—A very revealing listen. "17 Days" alone is worth buying this for.
7. Teyana Taylor: K.T.S.E.—Kanye [West] produces something I like here and it is warm and funky; Teyana is great.
8. Janek Schaefer: What Light There Is Tells Us Nothing—Making new music out of Robert Wyatt's Cuckooland whilst recalling Rhythm & Sound is quite a feat.
9. Bob Dylan: More Blood, More Tracks—More of my favorite album of his, in many forms. There may be a bit too much to take in on the full box set but it is all wonderfully written and underplayed, understated, and direct.
10. Becker & Mukai: Eyes—A new team for now, making murky music for everyone who is adventurous with listening habits.

What was the highlight of 2018 for either you personally or for the band?

I enjoyed meeting a new cat called Sandy, who had got lost near Sainsbury's Local opposite the Great Cambridge Road. He came to stay with us for two nights. When he wanted to go outside he found his way directly to his owner's front door despite being very far from home. He was a nice cat who we miss daily.

What was the low point? 

The whole year spent awaiting Brexit, and coming to terms with Trump being in power in the States, as well as Sandy leaving.

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. midterm elections have played out? What do you think the results mean for the Democrats' chances of taking back the White House in 2020?

I am not good at betting on future events and have recently been very taken aback by people's ability to make things a lot worse for many around them, and themselves.

A year after the #MeToo movement, do you feel things gotten better or worse in terms of issues of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and misogyny in the music industry?

It seems there is a long way to go.

Be honest, did you Floss in 2018? (Meaning the dance craze, not the dental care.)

Yes.

Which Muppets character are you most like and why?

Kanye West. Because of my interest in key modulations and brutal editing.

Are you less of a fan of Kanye West now that he's visited the White House and has in other ways supported President Trump?

He seems confident but I am confused by his views and do not agree with them. I am confident he is confused.

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit tragically took his own life this year. What should be done to improve mental health conditions for musicians?

More education about mental health problems generally, not just for musicians. For families trying to support those with mental health issues as well as the individuals themselves. 

In 2018 there were more dire predictions about climate change and we witnessed some of its likely effects firsthand with various deadly storms and forest fires. What should touring musicians be doing to better offset their carbon footprint? How bad do you think it needs to get for governments and corporations to take stronger actions to fight climate change?

We could be more considerate about traveling and take this much more seriously. Not much worse really...

Are you ready for artificial intelligence and a more automated future? Some predict that it may come sooner than we think and will lead to massive job losses.

No.

What's your favorite birthday party memory from childhood?

My brother had a fancy dress birthday party and one friend lost an eyebrow when his latex Frankenstein's Monster facemask was removed. That was memorable but it was not exactly a favorite.

What was your favorite family vacation as a kid? What was your least favorite?

Cornwall was always very beautiful and there was lots of time by the beach (very cold), as well as skateboarding in concrete skate parks, and long car journeys listening to the Do the Right Thing soundtrack. Least favorite: SummerSlam '92. That was NOT a holiday!

What's been your most surreal experience in the music industry?

Staring at Mark Mothersbaugh's amazing circular green studio in Los Angeles, taking pictures of it, and then bumping into him in the street seconds later only for him to say "Come round and use it when you are free" as well as "What's up with those pants?"

When you die, do you think you're going to the Good Place or the Bad Place?

The soil seems okay to me.

Tell us about your first job. Also, what's been your most disastrous job interview or business meeting?

I worked in a CD and DVD shop. It was great for getting to know albums in their entirety. Once the assistant manager thought Four Tet's first album was the same record as an Echo & the Bunnymen LP because the manager switched CDs after one song. But I liked the confusion and notion that they could have been made by one person: Kieran Hebden. Some people borrowed soft porn VHS cassettes and returned them. That wasn't great. I got the job at Domino Record Co. to be a bookkeeper, but I couldn't handle spreadsheets. Luckily they kept me on because my enthusiasm for Royal Trux and Will Oldham was very strong indeed.

Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee also passed away this year. Which of his characters (Spider-Man, Hulk, X-Men, etc.) meant the most to you/did you most identify with?

The Hulk, sadly, due to my purple shorts and short temper.  

Where do you stand on social media in 2018, is it uniting humanity or ruining the world? And which platform do you find most useful and which one do you think is doing the most harm?

Ruining. I only use Instagram but it is not useful to me.

If you were to have a hip-hop side-project, what would your rapper name be?

BLT.

This year The Doctor in Doctor Who was played by a woman for the first time in the show's 55-year history. Which other established character would you like to see switch genders?

Donald Trump.

What turns you off the most on a first date? And what's the most disastrous date you've ever been on?

Smoking. I have been lucky I think!

What do you most hope planet Earth and humanity will be like in 100 years? What do you most fear life will really be like in a century?

Green. Burnt.

[Note: A shorter version of this interview originally appeared in Under the Radar's Issue 65, which is out now. This is its debut online.

www.alexistaylorsolo.com

www.hotchip.co.uk

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TelboyD
April 26th 2019
10:19am

Alexis, should you ever find yourself round Conisbrough way, drop in for a cuppa… you can meet my four cats and I’ll play you some rare cuts that Liam Hayes gave me personally. T.