As the first announcement of The Parklife Weekender 2014, THUMP are proud to exclusively announce British producer Jon Hopkins as a live act at this years event.
After a Mercury Prize nomination for his 2013 album Immunity, Jon Hopkins has become one of the most talked about new British artists in the diasporadic world of modern electronic music. His live performance at this years Parklife looks set to assert his position within a new generation of producers; one whose experimentations with house, techno and electronica have captured the imaginations of so many.
To mark the announcement, THUMP caught up with Hopkins to discuss the gradual evolution of the live show that will be performed at Parklife, and how he has come to view his own music through such a process.
Tell us about the process of putting together your live show. How has it evolved this past year, and will it evolve further for your Parklife show?
Jon Hopkins: I don't want to just tour an identical show around. I want to make each thing special, and not play too often any more. I'm going to be working on the live show a lot between now and the summer. I had something like seventy-nine shows last year that were based around Immunity, and that was a big thing of finding my feet with how to perform it Now, it's got to the point where I feel confident playing around with them, bringing new life to them. They're finding themselves a little bit heavier live, too. It's evolving; becoming more experimental, and more beats-driven than the record itself.
I'm a big believer that when you spend nearly a year building a collection of songs, there's a lot of life in those songs beyond the original versions. I find myself playing twelve to fifteen minute versions of tracks - really taking advantage of the fact that you're live. Going into that fully hypnotic mode where people get lost in it, that's what I want. You can definitely describe the show as dance music, though. There's a beat underpinning everything.
I'm also developing some really interesting lighting concepts and visual accompaniments that I can't go into detail about quite yet, because they are still being finalised. What I will say is though, in being lucky enough to do some larger festival slots, it's given me way more flexibility. I'm really keen on investing all my energies into an amazing live show, not just standing up there with the same stuff as if I was playing to a hundred people in a club. I want to do something worthy of the space.
You're playing The Forum with Objekt soon, which I know is a line-up and staging that you've overseen yourself. It seems you've got a real sensibility for the curatorial aspect to a live performance.
Jon Hopkins: The Forum has been amazing. I've got a chance to ask friends and people that I really admire to play with me, and I would like to get more opportunities to curate nights like that. It's not something that comes along very often. The Forum is the first time I'm trying out some of these lighting things, which will then be further developed in time for Parklife.
How do you feel this live show with translate in a big festival setting? Live electronic music performance in large arena or outdoor settings are often really bombastic, but Immunity hardly feels like a safe fit amongst that.
Jon Hopkins: I don't know exactly how far we're going to go with it. For all the talk of visuals and lighting, I still believe that music should stand up on its own. If you did it in complete darkness, it should be still be good. It's about finding that balance between tastefulness and excitement, but no overkill. I'm not going to be planning any of that ridiculous EDM spectacle. I wonder what would happen if I tried it? It it would probably be hilarious. Whatever the opposite of pyrotechnic is, it'll be that.
Do you feel that's something in live, big-top dance performances that has become cluttered?
Jon Hopkins: I kind of let myself get a bit out of touch with what people are doing live beyond the immediate circle I get booked with. I think there's some value to not knowing When I was writing this record I was not listening, and you can hear that in Immunity. It doesn't sound particularly current. I wanted a sound that will stretch back and forwards in time. I kind of feel the same about the live side too; to try and not be too aware of the cutting edge technologies that are going on, and just to let the visual artist bring their thing to what I'm doing.
In terms of live electronic music performance, who have you been inspired by?
Jon Hopkins: Again, it's those people that I've become friends with through playing shows. One artist i really admire is Nosaj Thing. He has an incredible live visual show. He has a desk and it's all very simple, and behind him is this enormous white screen or white painted wall. Everything is projected onto him, and the wall. It's so simple, but also mind bogglingly immersive and refined. That's what I always think of. My music is intentionally complex in the making of it, but not in the listening. I try to make something that's quite open and accessible.
So, what can you tell us about your Parklife live show?
Jon Hopkins: I can tell you that it will look like nothing that I've seen before.