Hot Chip (DJ Set)

Hot Chip (DJ Set)

Tanlines, Crystal Ark (DJ Set)

Apr 09

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Roseland Ballroom

New York, NY


Hot Chip (DJ Set)
Hot Chip (DJ Set)
There are five words slipped into the middle of 'Night and Day' - the hyper-infectious, propulsive track that comes halfway through Hot Chip's fifth album - that in many ways sum up what's In Our Heads. Somewhere between the fizzing percussion and the relentless and addictive bassline, a processed voice intones the line, "I like Zapp not Zappa".

Although the Alexis Taylor penned words were written primarily as a reaction to ill-informed requests during the frontman's DJ gigs, if viewed as a statement of intent for the record as a whole they speak volumes. They seem to say this record is playful yet unburdened by extraneous fuss or showiness. That this is a joyous record aimed squarely at the heart and at the heart of the dancefloor.

It's an ideology that seems to subliminally seep through the rest of the tracks on In Our Heads. You can hear it on the opening track – 'Motion Sickness' – where the track seems to dizzily modulate one step ahead of the listener with every four bar loop and on 'How Do You Do', a celebration of the joy of life itself stretched over a backing track that sounds like a Chicago house record reinforced with titanium. It's there throughout the seven-something minutes of 'Flutes' in the chopped up rhythmic chant that runs through the heart of it while the rhythm track crackles like electrical cables in heavy weather and it's in the ocean deep melancholy of the gorgeous 'Look At Where We Are'. It's there in the utterly ecstatic wordless chorus of 'Let Me Be Him'. And it's there on the constantly evolving, Abbey Road-esque ballad 'Now There Is Nothing'. In fact, it's there right through the middle of In Our Heads, helping to forge something akin to the perfect synthesis of electronics and live instrumentation, a place where Alexis' beautifully soulful vocals sit as perfectly on liquid R&B backing tracks as on songs that sound like Prince beaming back from the 31st century.

Joe Goddard: "We tried to make something joyful and alive and that's it really. Maybe when people listen to music that's positive and joyous they might feel like that's cheesy in some way – for me though, I want to listen to records like Never Too Much by Luther Vandross. I don't want to listen to a band that's caught up in their hang-ups and problems. That's just not interesting to me."

Alexis Taylor: "There's no point putting too much emphasis on the recording process but if the sound of the music is joyous, it's because the way the record was made was entirely enjoyable."

Without over-analysing the recording, it's worth pointing out that it represented the first time that the band - Alexis, Joe, Al Doyle, Owen Clarke and Felix Martin - had worked collectively in a studio with an engineer (Mark Ralph).

Alexis: "Although Joe and I had each worked with Mark separately, having someone that's not in the band as a constant factor was a totally new thing for Hot Chip."

Joe: "It was so refreshing having someone outside of the band who could organize how everything comes together without it becoming hierarchical. In the past, I've been in the studio sat there at my computer trying my very best to record what someone was playing in the room to try to get it into the track. Often I wasn't able to focus on how the actual track was sounding. This time round, I could get a much more of an objective view of what we were doing."

As a band, they needn't have worried about validity of ideas. At Hot Chip's core is a unique songwriting partnership at its creative peak five albums in; a pairing that joins a very British tradition that arguably begins with Lennon & McCartney then stops to take in the likes of Morrissey & Marr and Tennant & Lowe. The songs Alexis and Joe wrote for In Our Heads were written in tandem with a massively hectic period of extracurricular activity (that includes albums by About Group, The 2 Bears and New Build as well as Joe's solo single 'Gabriel'). That said, there was little doubt where the songs the band were to work on collectively belonged.

Alexis: "Charles Hayward (This Heat/About Group) came in to drum on a track that I thought was really different to anything we'd ever attempted before. He immediately said, "Brilliant! Sounds like Hot Chip!" It must've had almost subliminal traits."

Joe: "It's a brilliant thing isn't it, when a band or a producer hit a trademark sound? Whether it's Brian Wilson or J Dilla, I'm often drawn towards producers with a complete sonic signature of their own. People who you recognize their sound straight off."

As well as representing a change in the recording process, In Our Heads collects the band's first recordings for a new label. Following the completion of a three album deal with EMI, the band have moved operations to what could be seen as something of a spiritual home - Domino.

Alexis: "One of the main memories I have of Hot Chip beginning is of me and Joe listening to Smog and Will Oldham records. Joe would play me tracks he'd just picked up and that's stayed at the back of my mind the whole time. In many ways they were foundation points for Hot Chip. Domino didn't sign us originally but they wanted to. They've stayed really interested in our band."

Joe: "From my perspective, it quickly became clear that it was the right thing to do. Going into this knowing that we've got a group of actual friends and fans who are willing to fight for the record… That's one of the most positive things you can have as a group really."

So, a career best fifth album that's been produced via an exhilarating new way of working and released by a record label made up of friends and supporters? Slots booked across the globe closing festival stages as well as a series of already announced gigs that include a sundown headline slot at the Hollywood Bowl?

Yeah. Definitely more Zapp than Zappa.
Mixed Emotions is the debut album by Tanlines, a Brooklyn NY duo composed of Eric Emm (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Jesse Cohen (drums, keyboards, bass). Initially born as a production project based out of Emm’s Brooklyn-based Brothers Studio, Tanlines has evolved into a deeply personal, unique electronic pop group.

But before there was Tanlines, there was just Eric and just Jesse, working in separate bands and projects until their paths crossed in 2008. Jesse’s former band had recorded at Eric’s studio; the two got along famously and struck up a friendship. “We have complementary qualities. It’s like a lot of duos, I think. We have different personalities, but we just innately understand each other,” says Cohen. The pair began making music together almost on a lark, deciding one night to remix a song for the band Telepathe, with whom Eric was working at the time, and put it on the internet that same evening for no reason beyond simply doing so. Suddenly, the song was making rounds on the web and being championed by various tastemakers. Their second song, “New Flowers,” written for one of Jesse’s friends’ art projects, had the same reaction, resulting in excellent UK label Young Turks (The XX, SBTRKT) emailing the band to release a single in 2009. “It was at that point that we thought, ‘Okay, this is a real project now,’” says Cohen.

Shows around the world followed, including amazing sets at the likes of The Guggenheim, The Whitney, the New Museum and more in their hometown of NYC (“Our genre was ‘Museum House’ for a while,” jokes Emm), and an opening slot on Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas’s solo tour in 2009. Effortlessly cool Parisian label Kitsune released a Tanlines single, while American label True Panther released the Tanlines’ first EP in 2010. They booked a three week tour in Europe, excited from the exciting things that had been happening to them, only to play some of the most disappointing shows of their career. “It was eye opening,” says Emm. “We realized we had a lot of work to do.” The inspiration for said work came in the form of albums the duo brought with them to listen to while driving through Europe. “We brought R.E.M. records, skate punk records from the 80’s, Born in the USA, stuff like that. Emm says, “listening to them, I became very aware of the lasting resonance of a good song. A good song transcends production trends. That’s what we were missing, and I wanted to start making songs that would have a life of their own.”

Upon returning from the European tour in the spring of 2010, Cohen and Emm returned home to New York to find an eviction notice for the recording studio that Eric and his brother (one-time trance producer Joshua Ryan) had built from the ground up eight years prior. The building had been sold and there were plans to convert it into a homeless shelter (...which was ultimately never built). For two years, the studio had been their figurative, and sometimes literal home (the spare bedroom often housed Jesse Cohen after late night sessions). With all of that change and uncertainty in mind, Tanlines began to work on their first proper album.

That album, Mixed Emotions, is a testament to the benefits and pitfalls of life’s changes, getting older, and being pushed out of one’s comfort zone. The band that was born out of a studio suddenly found themselves without a home base, forced to reevaluate themselves. Emm honed his voice, a confident and tranquil baritone, and focused on lyricism, something he had not done seriously in the past. Many of the songs on Mixed Emotions began as simple songs written on a guitar, with the band later adding their palette of electronic and organic sounds afterwards. “A great song can stick with someone for their whole life,” says Cohen as a means of explanation. “As a musician, you have the opportunity to create that, and that is the thing that you chase. When we were forced to really figure out what we were trying to do with our album, our music in general, and our lives broadly, it was obvious.” Emm attributes his newfound lyrical earnestness and immediacy more directly- “I just reached a point in my life where I wasn’t afraid and didn’t give a shit.”

Emm sings stories about loss, the passage of time, and the lessons and warnings of accumulated knowledge gleaned by someone who has spent an entire lifetime in music. “Real Life,” one of Mixed Emotion’s most bombastic songs, has Emm countering with the searching lyrics: “For a minute I was lost / I looked away/ I was looking for a home / I was looking for a role.” Emm, who by his own account has lived “an extremely unconventional life,” quit school at 15 to play guitar and skateboard, joined his favorite band and toured around the world at 19, and built a studio that hosted some of the area’s most notable underground acts in the mid 2000s, found the displacement both bittersweet and liberating. The lyrics that poured out of him reflect both earnest excitement and wisdom- they are about recognizing the sadness of a loss while still accepting that nothing ever really changes for good. On “Brothers” he sings “You’re just the same as you ever were / You fight and you don’t wonder why it makes no sense, I’m just the same as I ever been / But I’m the only one who doesn’t notice it”.

“This process,” Cohen says, referring to the agita of recording in the midst of the studio loss and its subsequent, sudden adulthood, “felt more like making a movie than an album.” Ultimately, the final step of mixing the album took them to an entirely different musical universe, the Miami-based studio of legendary mixer Jimmy Douglass (Timbaland, Aaliyah, Justin Timberlake, Television, Roxy Music) in whom the band found an unlikely kindred spirit. It was a journey that pushed the band to expand their sonic ambitions and away from the comfort of their previous experiences.

Perhaps that’s why Mixed Emotions feels so vivid—sometimes painful, sometimes transcendent—a very precise labor of love. It obscures and blurs the lines between synthetic and organic sounds, real and fake, happy and sad. It is the sound of stadium pop in small spaces. Before deciding on the name Mixed Emotions, Tanlines’ debut was called ;( (pronounced “winky-sad’), an emoticon of their own creation and the unofficial mascot of the band. A winky-sad is used to indicate something that is sad, but that you can still make a joke about. Musically, it is perhaps a happy-sounding song with melancholic lyrics. It’s the acknowledgment that most things are many things at once. It is Mixed Emotions ;(
Crystal Ark (DJ Set)
The Crystal Ark is the collaborative, body-centric, New York pop project of Gavin Russom and Viva Ruiz. The group began when Russom asked Ruiz to write and sing Spanish lyrics over a pair of instrumentals he had created blending his signature hypnotic synthesizer sound with distinctly movement friendly beats. Ruiz's fevered vocalizations, which blended song, spell and rallying cry, took these pieces to new heights and the result was the group's first two singles released on New York's DFA label: "The City Never Sleeps" and "The Tangible Presence of the Miraculous". The second single featured percussionist Alberto Lopez's fierce polyrhythmic drumming as a supplement to the already driving electronic pulse, fully forming The Crystal Ark's sound. A desire to carry this sound forward and expand it solidified Russom and Ruiz's collaboration, established Lopez as a member of the group and also brought in new members; vocalists Jaiko Suzuki and Sokhna Heathyre Mabin whom Viva had worked with previously, as well as bassist Tyler Pope and electronics expert Matt Thornley, both of whom Gavin had worked with during LCD Soundsystem's final tour. 2nd bassist Eliza Douglas joined the group shortly after. With this group in place, Russom and Ruiz produced a full length album to be released in the October of 2012 and launched a live show, featuring the full band plus dancers Irene Discos and Alberto Cortes and a video crew comprised of Bec Stupak and Johnny Woods. This line up has appeared all over the world at venues such as the Sydney Opera House, Palais De Tokyo, The Hirshorn Museum and MOMA PS1 as well as many sweaty, dark night clubs. The group's sound reflects the physicality, diversity, sexuality and intensity of New York City itself. The Crystal Ark is about possibility, transformation and opening your body, mind and spirit to the forces of nature. The first single from The Crystal Ark's debut album is entitled "We Came To" and will be released by DFA records in September 2012.

The Crystal Ark Party Machine is an evolving work performed by a modular group of Crystal Ark band members and led by Gavin Russom and Viva Ruiz. It channels the energy and message of the band into the nightclub atmosphere directly and with the volume up. Rather than performing the music of The Crystal Ark live, the group uses the framework of a DJ set with live singing, synthesizer and movement to present music that has inspired them mixed with jacked up edits of the band's songs. The Crystal Ark Party Machine creates a concentrated blast of energy unbounded by genre, style or category. Neither strict DJ set, dance performance, ritual nor concert, it is its own thing which encompasses those forms and more, an alternate yet related dimension to the sound and shape of The Crystal Ark.
Venue Information:
Roseland Ballroom
239 West 52nd Street
New York, NY, 10019