Boy From School: Joe Goddard

Behind the scenes of his new EP
Joe Goddard.jpeg
According to the pundits, Joe Goddard is the busiest man in British dance music.

It's easy to see why. The producer splits his time between Hot Chip and The 2 Bears, while also running the Greco-Roman stable. Throw in a wide ranging DJ career and a few solo projects and you have someone who seems to be involved in the music industry every waking hour of his life.

Juggling several different projects, Joe Goddard dropped his new solo EP 'Gabriel' earlier this week. A five track release, the EP displayed some real house influences with the title cut verging on gospel.

Taking fifteen minutes out of his industrious schedule, Joe Goddard spoke to ClashMusic about the new EP and the possibility of a second solo album...

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What prompted the new EP?
There wasn’t really like any particular reason to do it right now. There wasn’t so much of a plan right now it was just that ‘Gabriel’ was ready and we thought it was a good record so we wanted to release it basically. I kind of started working on it late last year and worked on it sporadically through the Spring. Initially I wanted to release a solo album this year under my own name but working on Hot Chip and 2 Bears kind of took over a bit so the solo album will be next year now. We just wanted to put ‘Gabriel’ out there anyway since it was ready and we were excited about it, so there wasn’t much more of a plan than that. My stuff under my own name is always a little bit sporadic and there isn’t that much of a design behind any of it to be honest it’s just stuff that I like.

How do you differentiate between projects?
Basically I feel that if I start working on something and it sounds like it’s gonna be a catchy, poppy kind of record then I’ll send it to Alexis and see if he likes it and if he’s into it then it’ll become a Hot Chip thing. If I start something and it’s more of a heads down house record then I’ll play it to Raf and turn it into a 2 Bears thing. If it doesn’t fit into either of those then it’ll be a Joe Goddard thing. I try not to think about that too much as I’m working as that can take over from being creative. I try to make the music and when it’s forming, whichever camp it naturally falls into I kind of let it do that.

When did ‘Gabriel’ begin to take shape?
Well actually the vocals were the first thing that I had. It’s an interesting story and it deserves to be explained properly because Valentina pretty much wrote her words and the song a few years ago – it’s like three or four years old. She made an a capella folk song and she is managed by a guy I work with and he sent this slow, a capella song to me called ‘Gabriel’. Really gentle, kind of sounds like old English folk music. I thought that it would make an amazing dance record so I very quickly sped the whole track up like 30, 40 BPM and put a kind of garage beat under it and sent it back saying ‘this is what I would do – I think this sounds wicked’. I wrote all the music underneath the words in a very quick way while I was on tour so I didn’t have my studio with me, I just did it on my laptop. It just sounded really kind of natural and it worked very well. It started like as this Valentina thing and I turned it into a dance track. So Valentina deserves the praise for her record because her words and her voice are just totally brilliant. I just kind of re-imagined it into a different context.

Did the words inspire the music?
Totally. I guess I was influenced by the classic Roy Davis Jr ‘Gabriel’ as well – it was a garage classic. I think dance records are always good when they touch on religious themes, when they’ve got that gospel feeling. That runs through dance music often and I just thought these words were perfect. I built the music, the strings and the bass line around those words. It came together just very naturally – I think because the song is really strong.

The light / dark mixture runs through a lot of your work.
It does really. There are days when you want a dance track to just be completely uplifting and very happy, joyful. That’s obviously a nice thing to dance along to – something that’s about having fun and being at a party or whatever. I really like it when dance music has that bittersweet thing – like longing or unrequited love – these kind of issues work really well in dance music. I love that kind of sentiment, that emotion. With Hot Chip and a lot of the stuff that I do I definitely look for that. I think I just like those melodies as well, something that’s in a minor key with a little bit of sadness – I think that’s a really powerful thing in all music but in dance music as well.

How did Jesse Rose become involved with ‘Jump’?
Actually Jesse lives in LA at the moment but he was in the UK for a couple of days so we hired out a studio together and decided to make some music. We started four tracks together and this was one of them – Jesse helped me to structure it and mix it so that is sounded like a good house record because I think he’s really good at that. Other things that we did together, I did some singing and we wrote some melodies and I think that one of those things is going to be on Jesse’s next album. Other things I don’t know what’s going on with them. I kind of wanted to get together and make some music together. It was great to have him involved for that reason, he’s got that house music pedigree.

The new EP has a vinyl release, do you feel an attachment to the format?
Absolutely I love vinyl. I guess like a lot of people of my generation still have a big attachment to vinyl. Maybe the younger teenagers don’t really do anymore. It kind of seems that they don’t really know what records are when you turn up into a club with them! But yeah, I still absolutely love it and I still buy a lot of vinyl, I love the sound of it and I play it at home. There’s just beautiful objects as everyone knows and they give you a chance to have such beautiful artwork. It seems possible to sell a little bit of vinyl. If you’re careful and you’re doing something good. Literally only a few thousand people but it seems that there’s still an international audience in a small way.

Is your new solo album still very much at the planning stage?
I have like a load of demos of tracks for the album but I just don’t have any time at the moment to get it into shape. I think it’ll be the second half of next year. As soon as I get a chance to work on it I will but I think it’ll be a while before I do.

‘Harvest Festival’ was quite electronic and down tempo, is the new material a reaction to this?
To be honest the ideas I’ve had so far for this record are to make it more vocal. I’d like to sing more and that’s kind of reflected in ‘All I Know’ and ‘Gabriel’. I’m going to collaborate with Valentina more, I’m working with her at the moment. I’d like it to be more electronic songs but apart from that I don’t really know how it’s going to turn out as it’s early days yet for the album.

Is the focus on 2 Bears right now?
Yeah pretty much. Then we’re started sessions for the new Hot Chip record – we’re going to do a bit more recording for that in September. Those are my two priorities at the moment, really.

'Gabriel' is out now.

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