Q&A: Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard grows as a songwriter on solo record

Joe Goddard

When Joe Goddard hits the stage at Public Works next week, Hot Chip fans can expect a wholly different show. The band’s longtime frontman just released his solo album, Electric Lines, which we called “dance music from his heart.” As high energy as ever, Goddard’s solo show focuses more on what he calls a “crazy, electronic mix.”

Joe Goddard 
8 p.m., Thursday, May 11
Public Works
Tickets: $15-$20

“It’s different every night. It’s quite fluid, quite intuitive,” Goddard says. “It’s a little bit more out there and a little bit more improvised kind of electronic performance.”

While his tour is taking him all over the world, Goddard says he’s excited to return to San Francisco, a place he “deeply loves” because of its disco and dance music history. His own love of dance music is evident on Electric Lines, which jumps from the introspective title track to the emotionally uplifting “Home,” prompting listeners to dance along.

RIFF caught up with Goddard while he was in London.

RIFF: Ahead of the release of Electric Lines, you created a website that really took a different approach to promotion, sharing songs that have inspired you. (Check out the website here.) Was it a challenge to highlight all those influences?

Joe Goddard: If you’re someone who’s super into music, and music is a massive part of your life, then it’s difficult to distill what you love down into a few tracks, isn’t it? I find that super hard, so to choose those songs, I had to put quite a lot of thought into it. It was also good in that it made me really think through my creative process [while] making the record.

You said that you consider yourself a producer first and foremost. Why is that and how does that shape how you approach making music?

When I’m writing tracks, I’m not really thinking about whether I’m a songwriter, musician or producer. I’m just trying to create as intuitively and naturally as I can, so I try not to think about anything else. But I guess me saying that I consider myself a producer first and foremost was more about explaining to the public that I think I’m better as a producer than as a singer or musician. Those aren’t so much my strengths; I feel like my strength is in putting things together. When it comes to creating the record, that meant I was very happy to try to find collaborators and players for the album and try to get the best out of everybody who I worked with.

I imagine that being with Hot Chip for 17 years, it has to be a little bit of a challenge to go out on your own. But it might also very freeing.

That’s exactly it. It was super challenging because you’re used to having people to feed you with creative ideas and give you confidence in what you’re doing. You occasionally find yourself in a creative position where you don’t really know what to do next. But it means that there’s an exciting journey and it means you grow as a songwriter and a producer. There’s always compromise in that creative relationship, so not having that compromise there was exciting to me. I don’t say that because in The 2 Bears and Hot Chip there are ever massive arguments or disagreements about songs, but you’re just constantly compromising because you’re working as a five-piece group, whereas I didn’t have to think about any of that stuff.

How is touring for a solo release different than going out with the band?

There’s just three of us on the road: myself, my friend John and Valentina. It’s pretty intense compared to Hot Chip, where there’s like 15 people on the road. You have a gang where you can all hang out together and that’s super nice, actually. So this tour is a very different experience.

Follow journalist Brandi Smith on TwitterFacebook and BrandiSmith.me.

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