Kaotican Alphabet

Jon Hopkins interview

We caught up with Coldplay's album collaborator and support act

With Viva La Vida collaborator Jon Hopkins about to start another run of shows supporting Coldplay, we thought it was time to find out a bit more about him…

Hello Jon, how are you?
Hi, I am well, though a bit jetlagged. Currently in Miami, I arrived in the US in time to DJ at the Atlanta show last night and have my first live support in Kansas tomorrow night.

You’ve already played some dates with the band on this tour, have you enjoyed them?
It’s been amazing, I think I’ve played about 15 shows with them so far. The most surreal were the first three free shows we did in London, Barcelona and New York. The sense of anticipation and excitement from the crowd was awesome.
What’s it like to play to big arenas?
Quite hard to describe. At first it was actually beyond nerve-wracking and almost amusing. Then it became slightly terrifying. Now it’s actually fun.
Have you found Coldplay’s fans responsive to your music?
Yes it has seemed to go down really well – I didn’t know how they’d react to something so different from the band they’ve come to see but they’ve been really welcoming and I’ve had some awesome responses.
You worked on Viva La Vida with the band – how did you meet them?
I was introduced to them by Brian Eno, one of the producers on the record. He invited me into the studio for one day in early 07 to see if I could contribute and I somehow ended up staying till the album was finished a year later.

And what was your involvement on the record?
I co-produced a couple of the tracks, and played organs, harmoniums, and other keyboard instruments on some others. I also adapted one of my own new songs (a track called Light Through The Veins, which I’m releasing soon) into what finally became the intro to Life In Technicolor, and the backing to The Escapist.

Had you worked with other bands in a similar way?
I wouldn’t say I’ve had a comparable experience really – I have produced some solo artists, such as King Creosote and Dan Arborise, and have done bits of co-writing with David Holmes, Brian Eno and Massive Attack, but I also do a lot of film scoring and remixing work which tends to be more solitary. So it’s been cool to work with a bigger group of people, and see how things work within a band like this.
What was the atmosphere like in the studio compared to other acts you’ve worked with?
Perhaps harder-working but amazing fun, very rewarding.

Is it a nice feeling knowing that music you’ve worked on and co-written is now in the homes of millions across the world?

Yeah very, and I’m proud of my input on the record. What was particularly great was hearing the intro to Violet Hill on the radio for the first time, which actually came from an improvisation that myself and Davide Rossi (the album’s string arranger) did.

Could you tell us a bit more about your own music?
It’s electronically made, but includes a lot of treated acoustic instruments. It’s rhythmic and melodic, very dark in parts and euphoric in others. I’m not good at describing it beyond that but you can hear some at

How do you translate largely electronic music to a live show?
There are a lot of new instruments and technologies around that allow you to make electronic music a much more "performed" thing, and to improvise and build your ideas live. I also play alongside a big screen of visuals on this tour, made up of some crazy psychedelic animations by this genius guy called Vince Collins, who allowed me to use his work as part of my show. This adds an extra dimension I think… these stages are perhaps quite difficult to fill with one person and some machines.

Do you enjoy being on the road?
Yes. It’s not something I’ve done much of until this year but I’m loving it.

Are Coldplay a fun band to tour with?
Yeah. I’ve known the band for nearly two years now, it’s great being on the road with them.

After the US, you’ll be joining them for the UK tour too – are there any shows you’re particularly looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to the London o2 Arena shows – Davide Rossi is joining me on stage doing live strings.

Do you tend to watch Coldplay’s show? What do you think of it?
It’s been cool watching it evolve over the last 6 months, it’s changed a lot from the first friends and family show into the massive spectacular I witnessed last night… it seems to really have settled into itself now, if that makes sense.

Finally, what’s your favourite Coldplay song?
Probably Politik. A sublime epic.

Thanks Jon.
You’re welcome.

For more info on Jon Hopkins check out his MySpace here