Jon Hopkins spent 15 years releasing solo albums, and yet, the London-based electronic producer is perhaps better known for his work behind the scenes. From collaborating with legends (Brian Eno) to producing for and playing with contemporary hit-makers (Coldplay, Imogen Heap), to scoring films (The Lovely Bones, Monsters), Hopkins has quietly brought his unique brand of emotive electronica to the masses.
The June release of his critically acclaimed fourth solo album, Immunity, has helped bring Hopkins to the forefront: The record has been called "one of the most enjoyable, well-crafted albums of the year," "sublime," and a breakthrough that should "finally catapult Hopkins to stardom in his own story." As he rides Immunity's success and continues touring the world, Hopkins caught up with The Week via email to recommend some of the transcendent songs that inspired him to make the music that so many (including two of our previous 6 songs artists) are coming to adore. Here, six of his favorites:
1. Seefeel, "Climactic Phase No. 3"
"I always go on about these guys, but I just have to acknowledge how important this record was to me. Released back in 1993, I first came across it only about 10 years ago and it has definitely affected the way I write ever since. The idea of layered chords looping endlessly, with subtle changes and melodies that are half-glimpsed — it has this deeply hypnotic effect. The whole album is full of things that seem more like journeys or places than pieces of music. Also that dub bassline that drops a few minutes in somehow always surprises me."
2. Todd Terje, "Snooze 4 Love"
"For me, this is actually a perfect piece of music. It doesn't try to do anything particularly experimental — it sounds simple, even straight on the surface, but after years of listening, I still find new and subtle delights every time. The central analog riff is so varied and 'alive-sounding' — it is constantly changing in both sonic and melodic content, rising and falling. The drums grow and diminish around it and the thing as a whole is just so unified — it exists in a perfectly constructed world. It also doesn't particularly sit with any scene — it never sounded new, or old, just timeless."
3. Orbital, "Forever"
"This is a formative track I came across in my teenage stoner years. It was on a compilation tape one of my brother's friends made for him — he didn't have a track listing, and this being several years before the internet was publicly available, we didn't find out what the song was until some years later. The way the layers upon layers of intertwining, beautifully structured analog synths build and revolve around simple, fragile melodies blew me away. It was the first time I had heard electronic music with a strong emotional core."
4. Fairmont, "Ununoctium"
"I heard my friend Nathan Fake play this in one of his DJ sets — Fairmont is a label-mate of his at Border Community. This track for me is all about anticipation, energy, excitement. I love the confident, almost stubborn way with which the central chord repeats and grows, and the sheer fatness of the sound is like a physical structure, pushing relentlessly forward. The effect on a dance floor is amazing; it feels unstoppable."
5. Everything Everything, "Tin (The Manhole)"
"I saw this performed live at the Mercurys two years ago, having not been familiar with their stuff before that. It floored me — not because they were all wearing matching boiler suits, but because it is so beautiful it goes beyond beauty and into the pain zone. Like a lot of my favorite lyrics, they are obscured, even elliptical to the point where their true meaning is not clear. But there is a heartbreaking, yearning sadness in there. The way the echoing, falsetto vocals wreathe and intertwine around each other towards the end destroys me. Listen to it when you are hungover and you will definitely cry."
6. John Martyn, "Small Hours"
"I have always been interested in incorporating real places into the music I make. Bringing the outside into the controlled world of recorded sound just gives life and physicality. This track was recorded by a river — listen on headphones and you can hear geese in the background. Musically it centers around a simple, meditative guitar, controlled with volume and delay pedals. About three minutes into its nine-minute length, an improvised vocal line drifts in but is not really the focus, and it's gone again before you know it. You feel like you are just present at the creation of something — like he is playing this for himself and no one else."
Immunity is out now on Domino.
(This interview was condensed and edited by Samantha Rollins.)
Watch the video for "Open Eye Signal" below:
More in this series...
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Save the world... by changing how you pee
- Why does Fareed Zakaria still have a job?
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Does solar energy have a battery problem?
- 7 common estate-planning mistakes
- 10 ways to gain real superpowers that will change your life
Subscribe to the Week