“Billy Joel’s engineer said that you’re trying to get to a point where your collaborator feels so nurtured they become like a child”: Hot Chip man Joe Goddard on his solo return with Harmonics

Joe Goddard performing in 2023
(Image credit: Getty Images/Lorne Thomson)

“This record has been about exploring the studio, and simultaneously trying to write successful, leftfield pop music,” says Hot Chip founder Joe Goddard on the creation of his new solo album, Harmonics. “My biggest, ongoing obsession is using gear to get the most exciting and interesting sounds I can find.”

The shape-shifting producer and songwriter is discussing the genesis of his third solo outing, a collection of 14 tracks sitting atop years of off-kilter electronic music making.

From Hot Chip to eponymous artist releases via myriad collaborations, remixes and running his own label Greco Roman, Joe’s creative energy stems from a dazzling rainbow of sound.

This latest outing is an eclectic mix featuring various co-conspirators - including Hot Chip band mate Alexis Taylor and Ibibio Sound Machine’s Eno Williams - whose vocals adorn the lovingly-crafted tracks he’s created.

“These are songs I’ve been working on with different artists for the last couple of years,” he says. “There’s no concept uniting the tracks. It has the same kind of character that much of my music has - playful, slightly psychedelic and colourful. I’m just exploring all of my synths and pieces of kit, then collaborating with a great bunch of singers.”

Joe Goddard - New World (Flow) (Official Video) ft. Fiorious - YouTube Joe Goddard - New World (Flow) (Official Video) ft. Fiorious - YouTube
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Digging for inspiration

Joe’s musical life has been both idiosyncratic and prolific. Alongside Hot Chip bandmates Alexis, Al Doyle, Owen Clarke, and Felix Martin, he’s spent 20 years concocting bubbling dancefloor-friendly classics - Ready for the Floor, Over and Over, and One-Life Stand - all jewels in their back catalogue.

Joe has also released music as one half of the 2 Bears with Raf Rundell and is a regular DJ in the UK and beyond. Harmonics is inspired by the people he’s met and the dancefloors he’s played to.

There’s no concept uniting the tracks... I’m just exploring all of my synths and pieces of kit, then collaborating with a great bunch of singers

“I’m always checking club music of all different types, whether it be garage or digging for older house records, hip hop or modern R&B, I like to keep my finger on the pulse on what is going on,” Joe says of how he defines his sound palette.

“In the tracks I play out, I find amazing techniques, melodies, and processes and try to incorporate them into my own music.”

He’s also specific in his inspiration, using certain songs as platforms for him to take a creative leap, then come up with his own take.

“There’s a song on the album called Summon, featuring Hayden Thorpe, the former singer out of Wild Beasts,” Joe explains. “To me, his voice is similar to Anohni so I wanted to create a song for him to sing along the lines of Blind by Hercules and Love Affair that was released on DFA years ago. There are some targets I have in mind, depending on who I’m working with.”

Studio process

Joe works out of his home with a small setup - a computer, microphone, pre-amp and compressor so he can record vocals. When he wants to polish and finesse his music, he heads to his Shoreditch studio, Relax and Enjoy, which is run alongside Hot Chip bandmate and LCD Soundsystem guitarist, Al Doyle.

I like to begin on the computer and write chords, set up a loop, then throw notes in

This is a space the pair sculpted during the pandemic with the guidance of LCD Soundsystem James Murphy. By flitting between here and his home, Joe is always keen to mix up how he starts his music.

“I like to begin on the computer and write chords, set up a loop, then throw notes in as a starting point,” he says. “My major go-to is the CS-80 and my Eurorack set up, my ARP 2600, those are the bits of gear that I use the most.”

“I mess with those synths quite freely, adding effects and arpeggios, just to see what happens,” Joe continues. “It can also depend on what I’ve been listening to on the way into the studio. If I’ve just heard an amazing Timbaland beat, then I might begin with a rhythm track.”

It was on a past tour with the Junior Boys when Joe first fell under the spell of Eurorack. Jeremy Greenspan’s band had a rudimentary setup on their tour bus that they’d hooked up to the VCR and speakers in the back lounge. It was experiencing this that set Joe off on his own voyage of discovery.

“I thought it was amazing and just started investing in it,” he says. “I have developed a patch on my Eurorack that I’ve been working on for a long time with different oscillators and LFOs, then run arpeggios out of it, it’s a pretty unique and unusual microcosm.”

Alongside this setup, he also has some more esoteric and older pieces of gear including the Paraphonic RS-505, Yamaha CS 70 and Orgon Systems Enigiser.

“I saw the Enigiser on the Devon Analogue studio Instagram, it’s a tiny boutique company who have created this amazing silver acid box,” Joe says. “It’s a bit like a 303 with this really crazy filter, you can really overload it, distort it and make it sound mad. That’s on the stranger side but is really fantastic.”

Although an aficionado of music gear and a fan of running amok with his studio toys with Al Doyle, Joe is a firm believer in limiting what you utilise.

“Exploring what you’ve got is what it’s all about,” he says. “It’s good to really spend time with your gear, going deep on what it’s capable of."

“I had a period on my own in a smaller studio in Shoreditch where it was just me working out of this space and I really dived into the ARP and Oberheim OB-X. I reached this point where I could imagine a sound, then create it quickly.

"It’s really helpful when you want to maintain your creative flow and embrace your musical vision.”

Joe Goddard's studio

(Image credit: Alice Backham)


Joe Goddard in the Studio with Fiorious

(Image credit: Alice Backham)

Harmonics is Joe’s album but is also shaped by its many collaborators. UK rapper Oranje, Tom McFarland of the London dance-pop group Jungle, Bronx-raised singer Fiorious and UK jazz musician Alabaster DePlume all appear. Joe feels it is important to create an environment which feels safe when working with others, where participants are supported, valued and can make their best work.

“I read an article about Billy Joel’s engineer who said that you’re trying to get to a point where your collaborator feels so nurtured and supported that they become almost like a child,” he says.

“Al and I have worked with plenty of artists over the last few years and you get so much better results when everyone relaxes in your space. Making someone feel comfortable often requires time and there’s no set way to do it - but you do notice in the output as soon as everyone feels like they can be themselves.”

You can sometimes lose songs and they never get finished... If you’re not feeling creative, then you can still take the time to analyse what you’ve worked on

Many of those featured on the album are those Joe has met along his musical journeys. Findia is an artist who sings on two tracks whose music Joe will be releasing via Greco Roman. Barrie, who sings on the album’s lead single, Moments Die, is Brooklyn-based with the song sent back and forth.

“Mostly, the record features those who are essentially my friends,” says Joe. “We did the Ibibio Sound Machine album and their singer Eno is so positive, she has an amazing energy and I really wanted her to be involved. If I write something that is going to be good for a particular voice, then that guides me to working with them.”

Out at Night is one of Joe’s standouts from the record, an unexpectedly darker moment on the album. He put the drums and vocals through the Mutable Instruments Granular Eurorack module.

“I’m really proud of it, it’s disorientating compared to what I usually make,” Joe explains. “It’s quite soundscapey and minimal, trip hoppy even, I’m proud of the sound design, how strange it sounds.”

Joe Goddard - Moments Die (Official Video) ft. Barrie - YouTube Joe Goddard - Moments Die (Official Video) ft. Barrie - YouTube
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Production advice

Joe recently spent some time in the studio with his lifelong friend and d&b producer Fracture, creating music without thought to where it might go or be packaged. It led them both to get creative from a place without expectation.

“We talked about this as a philosophy for music-making,” Joe states. “Don’t feel like you have to work anything to death, there are no bad ideas, make music wildly without second guessing anything, just throw everything at it.”

Putting some space between a burst of inspiration and refining an idea can also let a piece of music live as it was originally envisioned.

“There’s sometimes a dip in energy with a track and you start to question what it is you’ve done,” he says. “If you allow yourself to separate the process between the writing and the editing, then it can be really effective. I’ve had it before, you have an exciting idea but then tear it apart when you get bored of it.”

When it comes to creative blocks, Joe likes to vary his process, flit between ideas and older projects. Not everything always flows and there are songs that are difficult to complete.

“You can sometimes lose songs like this and they never get finished,” he says. “In these situations, I usually try to vary what I’m trying to achieve. If you’re not feeling creative, then you can still take the time to analyse what you’ve previously worked on and make it sound better. I work solidly, I don’t give up.”

Future endeavours

With the album now released, Joe has just come off the back of Glastonbury festival, an iconic event where he and Hot Chip have a deep-rooted connection. The band have played and DJed across many of the different stages.

“I haven’t missed one for 15 years and just enjoy being in that space,” he says. “All of the typical slightly cheesy things people say, I agree with - it’s really nice how they’ve supported us and booked us in so many different situations, it’s been great.”

Much of the rest of 2024 will be spent on the road and DJing, taking Harmonics for a spin. He cites the Sub Club in Glasgow, London;s Phonox and Good Room in Brooklyn as some of his favourite clubs but his show will be a blend of dancefloor and live performance.

“I’m developing a live set which will be Push based, I have a Voyager rack mount for all the basslines, an OB6 for pads and chords, an Elektron Analog RYTM to add drums, and some of the collaborators come up on video when they sing,” says Joe.

“I’ll be modulating and rearranging the songs a little bit, adding acid lines and drum bits. At the moment, I’m doing it in a completely free way so I can play any song at any moment. Once it’s set up, it’ll be a really fun way of playing live…”

Harmonics is out now on Domino. For live dates and more info, head to Domino Music.

Jim Ottewill

Jim Ottewill is an author and freelance music journalist with more than a decade of experience writing for the likes of Mixmag, FACT, Resident Advisor, Hyponik, Music Tech and MusicRadar. Alongside journalism, Jim's dalliances in dance music include partying everywhere from cutlery factories in South Yorkshire to warehouses in Portland Oregon. As a distinctly small-time DJ, he's played records to people in a variety of places stretching from Sheffield to Berlin, broadcast on Soho Radio and promoted early gigs from the likes of the Arctic Monkeys and more.