Heart on a protective sleeve

"I don't know how interesting I find remixes," admits Felix Martin, who plays Jazzmutant Lemur, Elektron Machinedrum SPS MKII, Akai MPC2500 and Dave Smith PolyEvolver with British electro-pop band Hot Chip. Which is a funny thing to say, considering Hot Chip just released the EP We Have Remixes as well as an MPX4 app that allows fans to create their own remixes of Hot Chip's "I Feel Better."

And, from the band's blog, this: "URB.com and Remix Wizard have teamed up with Moogfest for the official Remix Contest. The contest features ‘We Have Love’ by Hot Chip and tracks by Tijuana DJ/producers (and North American Hot Chip support act) Nortec Collective to remix, as well as an easy-to-use web-based remixing tools for beginners. One grand-prize winner will be awarded a late night DJ set on at this year's Moogfest."

Says Martin, "The culture that we exist in, we've got a lot of fans who are producers … people end up asking if they can remix our music." But he does regard the album highly: "All these people on the new EP are friends and everyone in [Hot Chip] is a fan of their music. That's how it comes about. It's got nothing to do with record labels."

What Martin does find interesting is the song writing of his band members — and Hot Chip founders — Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard. "Alexis is not a straightforward kind of songwriter, but he writes songs that are quite emotional and quiet direct. Joe is much more of a studio-geek kind of guy. What you're hearing is the combination of two different people's artistry and that's why it's got that unique sound."

That means that, though they're created in a science lab or technology, songs like "Thieves in the Night" and "Hand Me Down Your Love," instantly recognizable tracks from the band's most-recent studio release, One Life Stand, manage to simultaneously get bodies to the dance floor and tug at the heart strings. And it's that formula that accounts for Hot Chip's longevity. "I see it as a progression of Joe and Alexis in their own lives," Martin says of the band's discography. "The albums reflect of the way they've grown up. They're both married, they've both got kids, they've both got houses that they own, and that's a long way from where we started off. We'd just finished college and were just messing about."

The band, started by Taylor and Goddard as school friends (the name comes from their like of french fries — not a name dreamed up with any foresight of a decade-long career), has always artfully blended tender emotion with dance beats. Lyrics like "You're my number-one guy" from "And I Was A Boy From School" had Martin apologizing to blogsite The New Gay for not being gay.

"What it comes down to is Alexis' ability to come up with original lyrics and Joe's ability to create fresh-sounding production," says Martin. "It is quite simple, really."

Actually, it is simple. At least in the beginning. According to Martin, a Hot Chip songs starts with "Alexis, with a piano or a guitar or a much more straight forward, back-to-basics way of coming up with lyrics. Joe tends to be more inspired by creating sounds and combining different electronic sounds. Slightly more modern in creating music through trial and error." Then, after that, it’s all about the Nord Wave, the Moog Little Phatty, the Roland SH-101 and the Moog Voyager.

“All the music and production we make has got the Moog sound all over it,” says Martin. “We haven’t visited the factory — we were only in Asheville for one day last time we were there. We went to a vegetarian café. This time we’re definitely hoping to make time to see the factory.”

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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