Next month sees the release of Harvest Festival, the debut solo album by Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard.
A collection of largely instrumental tracks that range from house and UK funky-inspired club tracks to more doleful ambient miniatures, it’s a playful but quietly ambitious record, and it will be released on Greco-Roman, the label and party collective that Goddard’s been associated with for the past few years. Here, the London-based musician tells us about the recording of Harvest Festival and the origins of its fruity theme, his love of raw-sounding dance music, the direction that the new Hot Chip album will take, and much else besides. Oh, and we also have an exclusive mp3 of Harvest Festival track ‘Sour Grapes’ for you to download – get it here.
Where did the whole Harvest Festival theme come from? Did you used to celebrate the Harvest Festival at school?
“Harvest festival meant being asked to take tins of food from your cupboard to the local church and placing them on a special table at the front. One morning all of the children from your class in primary school would do that. I thought that putting this album together was a little bit like taking the tins from the back of the cupboard so I thought that name fitted, I like it as a title as well. The song ‘Tropical Punch’ dates back to 2000-2001 but I’ve always liked it a lot and so decided to include it on the record.”
What were you listening to when you were making this album? Were there any influences – musical or otherwise – that you felt exerting themselves?
“The last few years for me have been a process of discovering and sifting through different kinds of house music and garage. I didn’t really listen to house as a teenager, in fact I thought a 4/4 kick was the most boring thing I could imagine. I was much more interested in Wu-Tang and Photek, Squarepusher, Aphex twin, Pavement, Will Oldham- a lot of things, but nothing 4/4. In the last few years I’ve been working my way through house music, inspired by seeing people like Theo Parrish and by learning about Ron Hardy, Arthur Russell, Patrick Adams, Walter Gibbons…I find people’s reverence for the past a little annoying in house music but I’m simultaneously drawn to these figures and really like a lot of the things that they did. So the more upbeat tracks on this record are my take on house, techno and garage. In terms of more recent producers there are bits influenced by Jesse Rose, Todd Edwards, Wookie, et cetera…”
The track titles, artwork and so on suggest that Harvest Festival is – to some extent – a playful record. Do you worry about people not taking it too seriously enough?
“I do worry about people not taking it seriously, yes. It’s a semi-serious record musically and I hope people aren’t put off by the titles. But on the other hand I find the area of song titles and artwork in dance music a little overly serious sometimes – it’s a very ‘boyish’ area filled with dark foreboding artwork and titles that seem to be designed to suggest authenticity and coolness – I’m not interested in trying to create that, I’m happy to be more lighthearted about these things. Also I feel that track titles in dance music are really only useful in order to identify a particular track in the most perfunctory way- from an audience’s perspective in a club environment most of the music is untitled and names are pretty much irrelevent to that experience. I don’t remember the titles of all of the instrumental tracks that I play out as a DJ, I know them by their sound and by the colour of the sleeve or the scrawl I wrote on the white label.”
Tell us about your involvement with Greco-Roman. How did G-R come into being, and when did you become a part of it?
“I’ve been a part of Greco-Roman since it started three or four years ago. It began with a few parties in different parts of london, the most memorable of which occurred in a warehouse space on Belfast Road in Stoke Newington. We then decided to release music by some of the artists that played at the nights. The thing that I like about Greco-Roman is the fact that I can learn from other DJs that I respect – Ross Allen, Raf Daddy and Alex Waldron particularly. It’s also great to feel when making music that there’s a particular club that will be perfect for that music, that it has a home where people will hopefully appreciate it. That idea has influenced this record a lot.”
Was this an album that came together in fragments, in snatched bits of spare time, or did you actually set aside a period to compose and record it?
“Some songs have been completed for a long time, others I finished this summer after taking a break from making the new Hot Chip record.”
“I wanted to work with a smaller palette than we had been using for theHot Chip album and to work on more instrumental and minimal music ingeneral.”
Where did you record the album? Did you limit yourself in terms of equipment/set-up, or did you use anything that came to hand? What single piece of equipment – beyond your main computer – was crucial to the execution of this record?
“The album was made at home, in my bedroom, where almost all of my music is made. I did try to limit myself in terms of equipment when making the more recent tracks for the album. I used a Sequential Circuits Drum Traks drum machine for a lot of the drums, as well as samples from an 808 that had been recorded onto cassette tape. The synthesizers are either my Doepfer modular or the Arturia Moog Modular plug-in. There was definitely an attempt to limit the sounds on the record to primarily those things. I wanted to work with a smaller palette than we had been using for the Hot Chip album and to work on more instrumental and minimal music in general.”