Jon Hopkins Talks Immunity, Lucid Sleep, Music in Schools… and McLovin

photo by Steve Gullick
photo by Steve Gullick

Fresh off another Mercury Prize nomination, London-based musician and producer Jon Hopkins plays Fortune Sound Club this Monday, November 25 (with Clark and Nathan Fake – tickets), in support of his latest full-length, Immunity.

Vancouver Weekly: So, congratulations on your second Mercury nomination.

Jon Hopkins: Oh yeah, thanks, a pretty surreal occurrence, but, it was amazing.

Do you find that awards matter to you, and, let’s say you won over James Blake this year, do you think your life would be different at all, today, or in a month’s time?

It’s very hard to tell actually. I mean, I think that particular award, it certainly matters to be nominated and, you know, it would have been nice to win, but I don’t think you can change the path I find myself on anyway. It’s my plan, regardless, to set up a new studio and make my next album, you know, that’s what I was gonna do. I’d certainly have sold a few more copies and had to do a bit more press and stuff like that, but those aren’t really the motivations for me.

The title Immunity. Why did you go with Immunity as the name of the album, and was it something you had worked out before even started working on the album, or did the music kind of decide the name?

It came halfway through. I think it was a real moment when it came because it totally summed up what I was trying to do. The concept of Immunity is the feeling of immunity that music can give you, and particularly the writing of it, you know. When I was writing this record, I felt, like, I was in this bubble, just protected underneath everything. Friends said at times I looked like I was in love. It was just that amazing feeling.

Does this album feel any different than any other album did when you finished it? Or do you have the same kind of feeling towards this album you would any other album when you finish it? Does this feel different in any way?

It’s think it’s hard to remember exactly how I felt when I finished the third one, because I was happy with that but, the nature of my career has been that albums come out, and I then do lots of other work for a bit because the albums aren’t particularly, you know, they’ve never been enough for me, to just do that. You haven’t gone far enough. So, that’s resulted in the processes of writing being broken up. So, for Insides, I was writing over three years in short bursts. Maybe it wasn’t the same coherence or style or general overall concept that this one has. I tried to, as much as I could, do it in one go. I managed to clear most of last year to do this one. Maybe the result… I feel like it hangs together better, like it sounds like one work rather than a collection of tracks.

It absolutely does, I honestly think it’s one of the best albums of the year by a long way.

Oh well, thank you.

In terms of the process, I know I’ve heard you say before that you work on instinct. The next time you make another album, will the process be the same for you, or do you think you’ll try something else, or maybe let something new happen, throughout your creative process.

Yeah, I have an idea for the next one. I want to learn some new software, which will allow me to make it [the album] in a more spontaneous way. I mean, everything does still work on instinct, meaning like, that guide whether something works or not. But I definitely feel that there are ways of realizing ideas quicker. I can’t stand using new programs and stuff. I can’t stand the process of learning.

But, if I was to just accept that, and do that for a month and learn some things that would allow me to be much quicker, I think I could get something that sounds much free-er, which would be interesting to try. I feel like I’m really happy with the final result but, the amount of time it took to make it, I like to think it’s possible to do with quicker. So I’m kinda looking into that.

I’m pretty sure you’re still using Sound Forge as your main production software?

Well no, the main sound-making program I use is Logic. I like to have a different writing tool than sound-making tool, and they work really well alongside each other. They’re kind of integrally central, really.

What else do you take inspiration from? Obviously music is a source of inspiration for all musicians, but what else in terms of film or sport or art or even people?

Well, for me, one of the main inspirations has been the meditation side and self-hypnosis and trying to enter different states of consciousness in various different ways. That’s been, I think, the central thing that’s guided some of the compositions on the album. I’ve learned various forms of lucid deep sleep. It’s quite amazing really, and that’s where most of the music comes from. I’m very into trying to harness all the internal stuff rather than going around looking from stuff from the outside world.