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    Jon Hopkins talks about working with Coldplay in new interview

    jonhopkins.jpgViva la Vida collaborator Jon Hopkins was exclusively interviewed by Coldplayzone.it this week, in which he answers questions on working with Coldplay on their last album 'Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends'. The musician talks also about coming back to the studio, and his recent collaborations. You can discuss this latest interview here at the Coldplay forum [thanks coldpatrix]


    Hello Jon! It's a real honour and a great pleasure for Coldplayzone to interview you. How are you?

    Hello. Thanks very much, I'm well. I'm on my way back from a show I just had in Montreal which was very fun.


    Coldplay's fans (I'm completely aware of what I'm saying, since I'm one of them) owe to you such many things, like the microcosm of ideas you developed during the production of 'Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends'. Your main music genre - electronic music – wasn't so related to the band's ideas in the early steps of their career. How much did the relationship with Brian Eno and the confidence of Chris and the rest of the band in your music skills influence the perfect fusion of such different sounds?

    I think the band and Brian were looking to expand the palette of sounds they had become accustomed to using on their previous albums. They were interested in exploring different ways of working, and particularly in the idea of working with new musicians, to break up the routine of what they have become used to...

    During the recording sessions, how does electronic music come into play in the raw elaboration of the songs? How much does the fusion process affect the two creative trends?

    Our collaboration begun with me jamming on keys with the band while they played through the songs, which were at the time only partly formed. It's hard to say how much that influenced the further writing but it was good to see parts that I had come up with in those first sessions surviving all the way to the final mix.


    In 'Viva' your contribution and your work can be seen in more features than those reported on the official booklet. In the intro of 'Life In Technicolor' and the mainstream of 'The Escapist' your own style can be noticed very clearly, but most people don't know that also the intro of 'Violet Hill' is yours (you worked on it with Davide Rossi, we'll speak about him later on in the interview), as other notes of organ, harmonium and keyboards. Which one was the hardest for you to work on?

    No particular element was more difficult than any other, but I had different levels of responsibility on each song, and so probably felt different levels of pressure corresponding to that. Prospekt's March in particular, one of the ones I co-produced, was largely my responsibility in terms of sounds and arrangement, so I remember having some very late nights working on that one.


    Could you tell us something more about the intro to 'Violet Hill'? How it was born? But, most importantly, what did Brian Eno think listening to it then, since the sound elements of those 34 seconds are related to the ambient music, which he was an expert of in the past?

    That came about when Davide Rossi and myself were improvising together in the studio, and though we didn't know this at the time, Chris and Rik (Simpson) were listening to what we were doing and recording it. We went back into the control room to discover they were really excited about how it was sounding. I've never actually had a conversation with Brian about it though, he wasn't there at the time, I'm don't know what he thinks of it (he laughs, ndr)


    The official booklet of the album tells about one particular feature you took care of: the 'colouring'. What is it exactly?

    That was a word Chris and I came up with to describe those elements that I contributed which can't easily be described with a traditional credit. They would usually be atmospheric elements, or processes I added to instruments the band had played, things like that.


    Coldplay allowed people to know your music, having you performing live as a 'supporting act' before their shows, 15 times at least. Which one of them was the most amazing for you? And what kind of atmosphere did you sense before and after the show?

    It was a lot more times than that I think, I did two American tours, one Japanese tour and the whole UK tour. I think the Japanese tour was the most enjoyable, I'd never been there before and had always been fascinated by the difference in culture. Plus Davide Rossi came with us on that tour, to join me on stage.


    With the ping-pong, the sparks, the playstation and the buttons sewing for the uniforms, every backstage must have been very chaotic and ruled by time constraints. Do you recall anything in particular that caught your attention, among those intense moments?

    Not really as I tended to spend the time leading up to the show getting very nervous and getting my thoughts together - then after my show, I had to go and DJ at Front of House until the band came on. Then I would usually watch the show. Although backstage was always busy, with people running about everywhere doing stuff, the band's dressing room was always a peaceful place.


    Through this happy experience, you got to know a great work colleague, Davide Rossi (who, to the Italian fans of Coldplay, is a sort of divinity). What can you tell us about him as a musician, and as a friend? How does your approach change when you two work together or by yourselves?

    Dav is great fun to work with. I've rarely met anyone who works so hard and to such a high level. We've worked together on a few projects since then, and he joins me on stage at my shows whenever it's possible. When we're working on the same project we tend to work in separate rooms but frequently play eachother what we've worked on. Generally we seem to have quite an instinctive communication within music.


    Give us just an adjective to describe Chris, Jon, Will and Guy...

    They're all very funny guys, great to work and hang out with.


    We know you have a taste for 'Politik'. Apart from the first track of 'A Rush Of Blood To The Head', which are the three songs by Coldplay of your own A-list?

    Probably Death And All His Friends, Glass Of Water and Yellow.


    Let's talk about you now. Jon Hopkins officially became a musician at the age of 5, when you began to plonk away on piano. Later, you attended the 'Royal College Of Music' in London. After that your learning experiences started to change. How did you get from your institutional and 'classic' training to electronic music?

    The two things developed independently, at the same time - I was becoming much more interested in electronic music at the same time as learning the piano, and eventually stopped all piano training at 17 in favour of focussing on composing electronically.


    Every artist has his own music influences. What about yours?

    The most obvious one I guess would be Brian. I've been a fan of his for a long time now. Otherwise I'd say electronic artists such as Plaid, Four Tet, Nathan Fake, things like that.


    When did you feel aware that something was changing in your work, leading you from an early and uncertain career into the success you are living now?

    I guess one thing that really made me realise things were changing was when I did a week of work on the Viva album in LA with just Chris, and we worked on the electronic side of Prospekt's March and The Escapist. This was only a few months after I'd started work with the band and so it all felt pretty new and strange. Previously I'd been used to working in small studios on my own - and then suddenly I'm in LA working in an awesome studio with one of the biggest acts in the world. It felt surreal but was amazing.


    How do you feel, personally, when you are composing your tracks?

    Usually pretty excited. Few things beat the feeling you get when you know you've hit on something good in a new tune.


    'Opalescent' and that brilliant masterpiece 'Private Universe', then 'Contact Note' dominated by the song 'Circle' that we could listen to before the shows of Coldplay and finally 'Insides' with the 'upsetting' 'The Wider Sun' and 'Vessel' on which also Davide Rossi worked on, but above all 'Light Through The Veins', the mother of 'Life In Technicolor' and its related songs. They're all albums that achieved a big success in the electronic music scene. Which one do you think is the music production that better represents your work so far?

    Definitely Insides. In my opinion it has a lot more depth and contrast than the previous two albums.


    What do you think about Italy and Italian people warmth? We know that you've been here many times during your career...

    I love playing in Italy. I've been lucky enough to be have a lot of chances to play there over the last few months. I've always found the Italian audiences to be very warm and responsive and always look forward to going back.


    You've recently created your official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/jonhopkinsmusic) and started on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/jon_hopkins). Do you think that a social network can help to better feel the support of your fans across the world? One of them (I don't know if you had a chance to watch it) even posted a link of a YouTube video that features a remix of 'Light Trough The Veins', 'Life In Technicolor', 'Life In Technicolor ii' and 'The Escapist'...

    Yes I have found the Facebook page to be a very easy way to communicate directly with people who are interested in my music. I haven't heard that remix I don't think but I will check it out.


    You've collaborated with great artists such as Coldplay, Brian Eno, David Holmes, Imogen Heap, and King Creosote, and have remixed Four Tet, Wild Beasts, Frou Frou and many more. Can you tell us something about your future projects? And again...are you going to be in the credits of the LP5 that the four guys are going to release sooner or later?

    I have recently finished my first solo film score for a film called 'Monsters', which comes out in a few months. I'm really excited about this, it's an amazing film. Otherwise I am trying to get started on a fourth solo record. I have been asked by Chris to work on the next album but I don't know when yet.


    We really thank you for you kindness and for the time you gave us for this interview. Would you like to say something to the community of Coldplayzone that got to know you through Coldplay and so learned to appreciate your music? Ok, I give you a hint: 'Life In Technicolor ii' is like an 'institution' here in Italy!

    Thanks for all the support!


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