Alexis Taylor fronts the U.K. band Hot Chip, whose new album “Why Make Sense?” is filled with the sort of sexy, smart dance music that has earned them nominations for a Grammy award and the Mercury Prize. Alexis puts together a winning party playlist while wearing his heart on his (vinyl) sleeve.
Alexis Taylor: Hey, I’m Alexis from the band Hot Chip, and this is my dinner party soundtrack.
Jona Lewie – “You’ll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties”
I thought it’s good to start with Jona Lewie, “Always in the Kitchen at Parties.”
It’s a fantastic early ’80s synthpop, novelty song that I used to listen to on the record player at my dad’s house. He seemed to be drawn towards pop songs with a nice kind of narrative to them.
It’s about somebody who’s not very good at socializing. And I can relate to that myself, but I also feel like I’d get away from the kitchen quite quickly because I’m not a great cook, and I’d want to be on the dance floor if there is one. Or, if there isn’t, I’ll make one exist.
Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes – “Wake Up Everybody”
Next on the dinner party soundtrack would be Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, “Wake Up Everybody,” which is a very serious, but easy-on-the-ears ’70s record.
It’s asking for people to look after those around them and to help, one by one, to make the world a better place.
Teddy Pendergrass in one of his best vocal performances. I think he has the right amount of texture and almost gravel to his voice, mixed with a smoothness. I had originally heard the reggae singer and producer Big Youth performing a cover version of the same track. And then my brother bought the original for me as a present a few years ago, and it turned out to be an inspiration to us.
At this point, people will be really embracing each other on the dance floor in a slightly drunken and gingerly way, but this will make people feel at ease.
Keith Rowe – “Groovy Situation”
So the next song I would put on the soundtrack would be Keith Rowe, “Groovy Situation,” which is a wonderful reggae song, something I’ve had on 7-inch single for years and years, and it’s survived being dropped on the floor and trodden on, and it’s been cleaned up and played again. It’s a crackly copy I have, but it’s one of my favorite pieces of music.
If it’s a dinner party, it shouldn’t all be about dancing. We haven’t really mentioned anyone making food, so Rob from Hot Chip might be taking care of desserts: raspberry or sherry trifle, perhaps.
Trifle was recently added to our rider after asking all of the band and crew if there’s anything that they’d like particularly to be added to the rider. And Rob’s response was, “Trifle?” So, that’s now something that we’ll be either forced to look at or eat every day of our touring lives.
Hot Chip – “Easy to Get”
I guess usually if we play any of our own music [at a] party, it would be because it’s a new song that we’re excited about sharing with people, and for the new album, I would probably pick “Easy to Get.”
I think there’s a misunderstanding sometimes of Hot Chip. Some people don’t like it because they think it’s full of sarcasm or irony or things that people question and second guess. And actually, for me, it’s emotionally open and deliberately easy to get. It’s possible to make music that’s like that, and it’s quite playful as well.