Alexis Taylor Q&A: “What’s bugging me? People who ask why I don’t eat meat”

The Hot Chip musician on Prince, Martin Luther King and vegetarians

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Alexis Taylor was born in London in 1980. At school in Putney he met Joe Goddard, with whom he formed the synth-pop group Hot Chip. The band released their first album in 2004 and have since been nominated for the Mercury Prize and a Grammy Award. Taylor has also released four solo albums.

What’s your earliest memory?

A child from school accidentally removing his eyebrow at my brother’s birthday party, as he was taking off his latex Frankenstein’s monster mask.

Who are your heroes?

My childhood hero was “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, from the WWF (now WWE). My adult hero is the singer-songwriter Will Oldham, but I’m not sure it’s so great to have heroes.

What book last changed your thinking?

Finnegans Wake by James Joyce made me stop writing in sentences. I started to feel comfortable using the voice and words as an instrument at all times, rather than only when on stage or recording music. I feel it has been for the best for me, but I know my daughter finds it infuriating.

Which political figure do you look up to?

Martin Luther King.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

It would have to be Prince B-sides really, but I’d probably stop being any good at it after 1992…

In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live?

I’d like to live in the version of the future that Napoleon, Beethoven, Joan of Arc, the Freud dude and Socrates were taken to in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, complete with access to Waterloo water park and a shopping mall with synthesisers. Though that was 1988, so not really the future.

What TV show could you not live without?

Steve Coogan’s Paul and Pauline Calf’s Video Diaries was my favourite TV programme but it was short-lived. I’ve survived without it for a while now but at least I can recall it in my mind, especially every time someone comes up to me with a request during a DJ set.

Who would paint your portrait?

New York musician and artist Brian DeGraw. He is a wonderful and truly imaginative painter, while retaining enough realism for his subjects to be recognisable.

What’s your theme tune?

“Batman”, I think, or Prince’s “Batdance”.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Play the f***ing note!” – and yes, I have tried to follow it as much as I can.

What’s currently bugging you?

People who ask why I don’t eat fish or meat, Tories, Brexit, Trump, litter, violence, people jumping to conclusions, various mistakes made over the years, nothing too much really.

What single thing would make your life better?

Friends who died young still being alive.

When were you happiest?

Swimming in Corsica with my wife when our baby daughter first experienced the sea.

In another life, what job would you have?

Saying a bass player is a bit obvious, right? Maybe archiving audio recordings would be my next dream job.

Are we all doomed?

I would say so, sadly! 

Hot Chip’s seventh album, “A Bath Full of Ecstasy”, is out now on Domino

This article appears in the 12 July 2019 issue of the New Statesman, The state we’re in