Alexis Taylor on the importance of escaping the nightlife…
Photograph Ben Blossom
Alexis Taylor from the band Hot Chip on the importance of escaping the nightlife and decongesting efficiently…
A ‘hole-and-corner’ is an old English term meaning a secret place: somewhere to escape the world, to be inspired, to contemplate and create. Where is yours?
I go to my recording studio in Stoke Newington, London, to play the vibraphone – a borrowed instrument that I have been enjoying recording with recently – and work quietly without interruption. My life is quite busy and my own room for recording at home has become somewhat crowded by huge keyboard-based instruments, plus the overspill of secondhand clothes and items I have collected over the years. Perhaps the fact that it is at home as well has meant my concentration levels are fairly low…
This separate studio of mine is somewhere I enjoy travelling to and from – the walk through Clissold Park listening to new works in progress, or music by others that I am ‘studying’, as it were, is as much a part of my routine as the recording or writing I do when I get there. The studio is shared with a friend, Rupert Clervaux, and his wall of poetry, philosophy and fiction books makes the place pretty homely, rather than a cold studio environment. There’s always something to read if you need to get away from the mix for a few moments! But to be honest I tend to work quickly in short bursts at regular intervals rather than spending long hours on late night sessions at the studio.
Is it important to you to have somewhere to escape from the hustle and bustle of life?
For me it really is. Although I tend to record vocal or melodic (or sometimes textural) ideas while on the Tube, or a plane, or walking down the street, I also need to go somewhere on my own and concentrate. But also it helps me that the studio is in a very quiet building, so there is very little distraction most of the time. My life involves quite a lot of loud music at the weekends when I DJ, and the nightlife feels quite far removed from the music I try to make on my own, so quiet is good for me. If only for my hearing – and sanity!
What do you like to listen to when you’re working?
As a musician I find myself listening to my own music when working, but things that I have been enjoying recently by others are the Rhythm & Sound releases, Gavin Bryars’s ‘Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet’, Mark Hollis’s solo LP, the Brown Bunny soundtrack and Adam Buxton’s podcasts.
What elements do you think make a perfect ‘hole-and-corner’?
I think space to work, peace and quiet, a desk at the right height – and access to tea.
Is it private to you or do you let other people visit?
I let other people visit but mostly I work there alone – I have been working with a producer recently who visits from Bristol once a week.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Keep a clean nose and expectorate regularly. When you think you have done enough, do just a bit more. This is advice for someone with a bad chest cold, but I think it can be taken as good advice generally, if you find the right metaphor in those words…
What’s the secret to a good performance?
Brushing your teeth just before going on stage, and practising a bit more than you want to, but leaving room for improvisation.