Red Bull Music Academy AUGUST 28, 2013 - by Gemma Lacey


Ahead of a European tour longer than War And Peace, Mr Hopkins talks about the creative process.

We nabbed prolific electronic music producer Jon Hopkins - who popped along to RBMA New York in May and whose album Immunity is so majestic we'll happily stake our house on him receiving a Mercury Prize nomination - at Lovebox to chat about Brian Eno, samples and how to keep it interesting in the studio.

What were the high points of working with Brian Eno?

"So many things happened in that time. I met him in 2003, worked on his album Another Day On Earth, and then years later worked with him and Coldplay, and then again on Small Craft On A Milk Sea. All these situations were about improvisation and that's his whole thing, that's what he loves most. He doesn't really like tooling around with finished sounding pieces and editing, he just likes to create new stuff. I got really inspired to just throw all my ideas down."

That was a change of process for you?

"My first album was me finding my way, trying to write something and the second one was so precise. It feels a bit lifeless because it was so over-worked. I think he broke me out of that, a bit."

What inspired you to use found sounds on your new material?

"It just started occurring to me how much life is brought to a recording when it isn't just pure electronic, or perfect recorded sound. It doesn't have as much character when it's not mixed with some sort of noise. I found that it's almost like if you record the noise from outside the studio and you put the listener in my head, exactly the position that I'm in when I'm writing it, it seems to give it some reality and depth."

"I also found that if you mix these things in quite loud, you get these amazing, accidental artefacts, like the noise of someone walking down the street; it will happen to join in with the rhythm that you've made. These sorts of accidents happen all the time, and it's almost like you recognise that they're going to happen and you engineer them to happen, rather than trying to keep everything under control. I've literally been on the floor with a tie-clip mic, rubbing the carpet to get a little shaker sound."

What's the strangest thing you've sampled?

"There have been moments where I've literally been on the floor with a tie-clip mic, rubbing the carpet to get a little shaker sound. Some of the sounds are really microscopic. My studio is in a building with three other studios, and my room is next to the kitchen. Before I put my soundproofing up, you could hear the noise of people washing up, so there's sounds of dishes being washed in one track."

Is there a record that changed the way you listen or think about music?

"In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel, that's my favourite album. To me, that's the reason why I write so specifically in album format and will always want to; that idea of telling a story over an hour-long period. When I first heard that record I was like, this is a fully realised world that has been made by this guy. It's so creative and you can get completely lost in it. And if you read the lyrics that he's printed they don't match with the music - they go off to explain things, sometimes, which I think is so creative."