Ahead of their Servant Jazz Quarters gig on August 14th, upcoming producer Dan Bodan recently sat down for a chat with Alexis Taylor, of Hot Chip and About Group fame. Well-matched in knowledge and inquisitiveness, Bodan and Taylor questioned each other on everything from the technical elements of producing Bodan’s low-key sound to Taylor’s view on Justin Bieber.
Alexis Taylor: Atmosphere and texture seem to be just as important as melody, songwriting or production in your music; would you agree?
Dan Bodan: Well, with the recordings definitely I want every element to be working together to create a harmonious whole. Because that's how most people are going to hear the songs, how they sound coming out of headphones is super important. But I do try to write songs that can stand naked as well.
Alexis Taylor: Which musicians, artists, film makers etc have been a constant source of inspiration over the years?
Dan Bodan: William Gibson's writing is a pretty big influence. And I really think what my friends do is the best: Timur Si-Qin, Keaton Ventura, M.E.S.H., K-Hole, T1MES, Simon Denny, Margaret Haines, Analisa Teachwood and that's just a few. Oh and Roseanne Barr, I think what she's done is amazing.
Alexis Taylor: What software/hardware do you like using to make your music? Talk us through the making of one of your tracks
Dan Bodan: I'm pretty traditional, in that I use whatever's available. I used to be a tech nerd with big samplers and millions of pedals, but I wasn't really doing all that much with them so at this point it's just Ableton and a Kaoss Pad. Usually the songs will start with one lyric for inspiration then then song develops from there. Once I have the structure of the song finished, I'll start to flesh out the production by myself or with someone else.
Alexis Taylor: When are you happiest, making music, listening to others' music, making video work, or performing live?
Dan Bodan: I'm happiest when I'm tying all the loose ends together. Like the stems are being exported for final mixing, organising and filming the videos, working with friends on photos and design, and hearing remixes as they come in. Remixes are totally the most thrilling because even when they're bad I'm still like "whoa cool, you heard that in the song? weird!"
Alexis Taylor: Chaka Demus or Pliers?
Dan Bodan: Chaka's prob more fun to bro down with, but I bet Pliers has better stories.
Dan Bodan: Hot Chip's a pretty big band and at the same time it's structure is non-hierarchical (like no ones the Deborah Harry). Does this kind of relationship with the band effect/change how you're approach solo work?
Alexis Taylor: I think Owen [Clarke, Hot Chip band member] is the Deborah Harry although in 1994 I did have dyed blonde hair. I approach my solo work as something fun and explorative, without any real rules or worries.
Dan Bodan: What's your definition of Pop Music?
Alexis Taylor: Music on vinyl, CD, cassette, 8 track cartridge, Minidisc, DCC, mp3/flac etc released publicly since about 1909. Some of it is more popular than the rest though, admittedly.
Dan Bodan: You get to travel a lot with your projects. Do other places or travel itself inspire you? Are you able to produce while on the road?
Alexis Taylor: Love, loss, music itself and dynamics between people seem to be more of a direct influence on me than geography. I have recorded on aeroplanes, in hotel rooms, on tour buses, at sound checks and in the street, wherever I am generally, but there's no place like home.
Dan Bodan: How important is visual identity in your work? How do you approach this?
Alexis Taylor: It is something of an afterthought, but quite a lengthy afterthought. We work with people whose visual work we love and admire. I like seeing what people come back with, left to their own devices, but partly in response to our music.
Dan Bodan: One Direction or Bieber?
Alexis Taylor: Not heard either of their works. I will wait for the box sets.