Iceland Airwaves 2004: Hot Chip

One of the many highlights of Iceland Airwaves, London experimentalist funksters Hot Chip raise the roof of a local record store before singer Alexis Taylor chats to VF ahead of their main performance.

Virtual Festivals: So what brings you to Iceland?
Alexis Taylor: We’re signed to Moshi Moshi records and Steve who works there is a massive fan of Iceland. He thinks it’s a great place and told us about the Airwaves festival. We sent the promoters our music and they invited us to come along and play. That’s why we’re here. I’ve known about this record shop, 12 Tonar, because of their distribution policy and through working with Domino Records. Loads of really good stuff has been coming out of this very building for some time. It seems like a great scene in Iceland.

VF: As a band you’re quite new to the scene. How did Hot Chip come about?
AT: As a live band we’ve been going for about a year and a half. Me and Joe went to school together in Putney and started out when we were 17 or 18, just making music in his bedroom. So originally it was just the two of us and it’s still us that write most of our stuff but now we’re five and it gives us a wider sound and a better live spectacle.

VF: You sound a bit like an electro Gomez to us. Would you agree?
AT: I don’t like Gomez! But it’s difficult to sum up our sound. We’re into Prince, Timberland, the Beach Boys, Kraftwerk – all kinds of stuff. I suppose we sound like a lot of things and yeh we take from a lot of other bands. The biggest example of that is a rip-off of Peter Gabriels ‘Sledgehammer’, which we haven’t released yet. We’ve grabbed the bass-line off it but haven’t told him yet so I don’t know if it will be released. It’s obvious what it is really but maybe we could get away with it.

VF: So how do you describe yourselves?
AT: We try to be adventurous and colourful, an attempt at mixing rythmn and blues, folk and rock n roll, with a more modern approach, using modern technology alongside classic instruments and whatever else we can get our hands on and enhances our music.
VF: We saw you last at Bestival. How was that?
AT: It went really well. It was the biggest stage we’ve ever played on. It was really cool because a few people said after our performance that it was the best thing they’d seen over the whole weekend. It was really enjoyable to play in what was a very surreal environment and a very intimate one. We’d definitely like to play there next year. Anywhere we can play to a lot of people, with a bit of camping thrown in, makes for a fantastic experience.

VF: What’s the best gig you’ve done?
AT: It’s got to be the Accelerator Festival in Stockholm. Everything about it was just dreamlike. The people were really great to us and when we came on stage loads of people seemed to know the words to our songs, which was really strange as we were not that well known, at least I didn’t think we were, especially in Sweden!

VF: And how does Iceland compare?
AT: Iceland is incredible. We’ve been here 24 hours and have been blown away by it already. I don’t know if you have seen that huge cathedral in the middle of Reykjavik but it’s amazing. It’s where Sigur Ros played one year.

VF: That was apparently very special indeed. Who will you have your eye on this year?
AT: We saw To Roccoco Rot last night, who were great. I want to see all the Domino bands and also Kid Koala. As much as possible really.

VF: And are you being made to feel at home?
AT: Yes, the people are really excited about their music and the festival which is obviously great. I can’t really imagine what it’s like the rest of the time. There’s a real buzz about the place, so it is hard to work out whether it’s because of the festival or just because it’s Reykjavik. Everyone’s amazingly friendly.

VF: And what next for Hot Chip?
AT: We’re working on our second album and then we’re going on tour in the UK. We’ve also got a few support dates with Soulwax. Then who knows. We DJ quite a lot at the Social in London and a few other places, so we’ll be about. We won’t be hard to find!