I thought, “No!” when Jo Whiley said we were laid-back. How Hot Chip made Again and again

Alexis Taylor – songwriter/producer/singer

Hot Chip was only a team before all else. Joe [Goddard] and I met at Elliott School in Putney in 1991, when I was 11, and reinforced over making music. On Joe’s four-track tape recorder, we started writing and recording our own songs after we performed covers of Pavement and the Velvet Underground at school. We tried to create something weirdly hybrid of our own by listening to alt-country artists like Will Oldham and Smog, American dance music, R&B, and pop, and productions by Timbaland and the Neptunes.

We continued making music after we graduated from college. I would spend the evenings at Joe’s Fulham home with his parents. Using a computer, Cubase, a few keyboards, guitars, and bongos, we recorded our first album, Coming on Strong, which was released in 2004 on Moshi Moshi. We were working on a song for our second album, The Warning, called Over and Over. Because we had signed with EMI, a major label, we felt pressure.

Joe and Felix [Martin] had moved into a converted church in Camden, where they had a large open-plan living room. We made use of very little of the same equipment that we had for Coming on Strong. I had a modest pink Reprise guitar that never remained in order. However, because we were excited about making music, we made do. When you’re just starting out and don’t know “the rules,” you try new things and have fun.

I did not have any prepared words for Over and Over. Joe had the song’s percussion loop. The distorted bass line was played by Felix. We were sticking and my words were a reaction to the notch. I took the phrase from the Prince song Joy in Repetition. I’m singing about the “delight in reiteration” I could detect Joe was feeling in making negligible, tedious dance music – which was genuinely new to us – and I was saying, “I’m truly with you when that euphoria is in you.”

I was annoyed at the time because, no matter what we tried, it sounded kind. When one of our songs was played on the radio by Jo Whiley, she said, “With chilled out, laid-back beats, it’s Hot Chip.” I said to myself, “No, we don’t want to sound laid-back!” As a result, the song’s line “Laid-back, we’ll give you laid-back” meant “Here’s something a little tougher.”

We played Again and again live for a year before it was delivered and it generally went down well with swarms. It was an extraordinary melody. It didn’t do well as far as graph positions yet it generally got a response. The NME made it Single of the Year in 2006 – we felt approved. We were certainly lifted up by its prosperity – we were perceived by individuals and viewed more in a serious way. Everyone knew what we were trying to accomplish.

Joe Goddard – songwriter/producer/singer

We were extremely pleased with our first album, but the press said we were weird white funksters making an odd bedroom R&B version. We were determined to move up into something more powerful.

I was ecstatic to move in with Felix to an amazing new residence on Camden Park Road, next to the Lord Stanley pub, after living with my dad in Fulham. “This place will be perfect for band rehearsals – look at all this space,” the landlord stated. However, that idea was shelved after we received a phone call from an Australian woman who lived upstairs and had just given birth five minutes into the first rehearsal.

I set up my desktop computer in a corner and began working on Over and Over’s music there. I don’t think my accomplice, Celia, and Felix’s accomplice, Louise, were extremely blissful about me continually staying there making my thought process were “banging beats”. It was our kitchen, living room and where our TV was.

I was fixated on LCD Soundsystem and ESG – that stuff was the beginning stage for Again and again. The rhythm of the bassline was directly borrowed from Dance by ESG.

We used to go to the Early Learning Centre to purchase percussion instruments like a five-pound kids’ xylophone and a set of silver cymbals for kids, which we used as the main high hat on Over and Over. We utilized whatever was readily available. We were allowed to remix Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Out because Alexis worked at Domino. I stole the kick drum sound and added it to the track.

Alexis frequently enters and quickly composes words over an instrumental I created. He answers the energy in the room. He composed the verses in a day. I just thought of Prince as a strange, sex-obsessed dwarf, so I couldn’t understand why he was so obsessed with him.

We couldn’t get enough of the song. When I played it at a London DJ set, I saw people moving and their ears pricked up. I thought, “Oh my God, we’ve done something of which we can be proud.” Over and Over was always our most popular song when we supported Mylo, Goldfrapp, and other big bands on tour. It’s as yet a set feature.

As far as home recording, we were on the ball. Making music with pop, R&B, or hip-hop influences from a home computer was regarded as odd. However, that is now the standard. You, as a young musician, believe that entering a professional studio requires approval. But the most important part of making music is doing something that is really an expression of who you are and that is one of a kind. You express yourself creatively by making creative use of the tools you have. That needs to be kept in mind.

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