ELECTRONICA AS NARRATIVE: JON HOPKINS ON THE VERY HUMAN PROCESS OF PRODUCTION

Not to be confused with the top-rated university, Jon Hopkins reigns from a decidedly more contrary world — music. The UK electronica artist crafts tracks that manage to achieve a rare combination of emotive expression and technical precision. There’s a perfection in the atmospheric pulse of Hopkins‘ tracks, a meticulousness to every sonic movement. His ability to weave resonant narratives through electronic music has caught the ears of everyone from Imogen Heap, with whom Hopkins jumpstarted his career as a guitarist, to ambient legend, Brian Eno. With collaborations and remixes with respected electronic innovators like Four Tet and Nosaj Thing under his belt, Hopkins more recently found resounding success with his June 2013-released LP, Immunity, garnering his second Mercury Prize nomination.

We caught up with the rising musician ahead of his upcoming show (Saturday, November 30 at the Echoplex) and talk movie scores, technology, and the very human process of music production.

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LA CANVAS: You’ve spoken in interviews a lot about the tension between technology and human emotion – why do you gravitate toward electronic music in particular to express emotion?

Jon Hopkins: It’s hard to answer that really, I mean my primary motive is just following my instincts – it was just as soon as I heard it when I was a kid, I connected to it. It was just more exciting to me to hear sounds that I had never heard before. it occurred to me even then that it was like an open platform – it would evolve like people do. It’s impossible to imagine the type of sounds that will be possible to make in time – and I love that idea, much more than trying to find new ways of playing the piano – which is the other side of what I was doing. But as the years went on, what I wanted to do as a kid has come true. So now I can imagine the sound and make it.

LAC: Speaking of making any sound you want – you mentioned listening to raindrops coming down a pipe and really wanting to capture that sound – what’s been the most difficult sound or image that you have tried to capture?

JH: I don’t actually try to capture the [exact] thing, it’s more like inspiration for things. So the raindrop thing was actually water running through pipes in a hotel room – it happened to be resonating in a way that was inexplicable. It was like causing this chord to happen and it was a completely random thing. It seemed like a random passage. It wasn’t like I was trying to replicate the sound but more the feeling of it. I don’t go around with a recorder.

The sounds that are on the record that are real world sounds, are ones that I captured from around the studio where I am. To me they seemed really logical to include. It’s like incorporating the world and my own reality into it. So I don’t go to lengths to capture things around me unless I am actually writing.

LAC: You’ve worked on a couple movie scores…

JH: Yes, I’ve done four actually.

LAC: If you could pick a movie score – not necessarily the ones that you’ve worked on – but just in general, if you could pick one to represent your life, which would it be?

JH: Hm, the reality of my life – it would be Twin Peaks. It has a pretty exceptional score. Theres something incredibly dark and deep and beautiful about that score that really resonates with me more than any other score has. It is just so well arranged. We imagine some art closer to our hearts than others – and that’s definitely the one for me.

LAC: When we listen to your music we get the sense that it is deeply personal. Does the process for your music ever exhaust you emotionally, or do you find that it energizes you?

JH: It’s a total mix of those two things actually. When you said ‘does it ever exhaust you?’ I found myself nodding. It’s like I put nine months of work into that album. It really takes a toll – it really takes over your life. It makes it in some ways difficult – when you’ve had an amazingly intense day, and you’re making a breakthrough on a track, it makes it difficult to come home and relate normally to a girlfriend or anyone I see – you’re in a different world. The best thing to do is take a few days off to become a normal human being again. But then after I take a long time off – after a week or so with no music at all, it feels like I am lacking something, lacking energy. Somewhere in there, there is a balance. I just haven’t found it yet.

LAC: Are there any challenges translating your productions into live shows?

JH: Actually it’s a difficult part of the album cycle. You have in your head that there is this huge fanfare and you go to mastering and you commit to it and then you have to deconstruct it all again for the live album. It is painful- you have to get right back into it and figure out how to do it live. Then it becomes fine when you actually start doing the shows, you think you’ve prepared properly. You take the tracks even further than they go on the record … there’s more you can do in the live arena. You can make them longer, heavier, more extreme in some ways and you can even feed off the crowd. It’s a great opportunity to explore the ideas you didn’t have the first time around. Again, it’s difficult, but amazing.

LAC: We’ve heard you speak about being against trends, and how they lead to a sound that can be identified as old. But, has there ever been a new trend that has caught your ear and had  you a little bit tempted?

JH: Oh yeah, I mean I talk a lot of bullocks in interviews (laughs). It’s not quite as clear cut as that. But there are some elements of my sound that I can pinpoint, ‘Oh that was inspired by this’ everything was a trend at one time. So it is difficult – you really do feel differently about what you do everyday so sometimes you will say things like that…

There is a particular type of compression that’s very common, sidechain compression – I can’t really describe the sound – its like a way of making a bass drum or whatever part you like displaced with the part behind it and it makes everything sound fat and amazing. It is definitely a trend of the moment. I try to do it subtly so that it isn’t like super obvious. There are some examples where it is being used too extremely years ago when it was at its peak.

I just prefer to cherry pick the things I love the most and not worry about what trend they’re from, I guess thats a better way of putting it.

I do like the idea of combining sounds of all different times, whether it is right now or ages ago.

LAC: Do you have any guilty pleasure listening?

JH: I prefer to call it ‘proud pleasure listening.’ I am quite an admirer of ABBA and the production in ABBA – and not everyone is into that. My dad was always playing it. And Fleetwood Mac as well. Im quite proud to announce that I like these things cause there’s a reason why these things are so enduring, it’s cause they are amazing. They have a common level of skill and writing and production.

LAC: Lastly, what’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

JH: I don’t really know at this point. The album has opened up all kinds of new opportunities. You know if you asked me this a few months ago I might’ve said I was going to do another collaboration – but now I want to set up my own studio. I really want to start my own place that is custom built. Eventually I want to do my own solo album – take it to another level with that. So that may well be a two year project. But yeah, you don’t know who is going to call and have something exciting for me. You never know if you are going to get a call from a director and be linked to a 4 month project.

I’m touring ’til August, and everything else is happening after that.

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Catch Jon Hopkins playing at the Echoplex this Saturday, November 30 alongside fellow European electronic musicians, Clark and Nathan Fake. Purchase tickets here.

Photo: Oddbjørn Steffensen

RECAP: DAVID LYNCH “NAMING” OPENING at KAYNE GRIFFIN CORCORAN

Move over Jonathan Goldsmith, cause David Lynch might be claiming your throne. Between the renaissance man’s celebrated film and TV work, his new dabble in music, or his specialty roast of coffee (seriously??), It’s hard to believe Lynch is also an accomplished visual artist. “Naming,” Lynch’s solo exhibition at Kayne Griffin Corcoran features shadowy photos of decaying stores and diners, drawings of flies, and Surrealist, dream-like canvases––everything your Blue-Velvet-meets-Eraserhead-fantasies could dream up.

If Lynch’s hypnagogic installation doesn’t fit your fancy, go for the gallery space itself. Kayne Griffin Corcoran’s new 15,000 square-foot build-out on La Brea Avenue, the vision of L.A. firm Standard and James Turrell, is quite the beauty, complete with a private courtyard patio (There’s even a permanent Skyspace designed by Turell himself).

Peep shots from the opening below (all photos courtesy of Andi Elloway and Guest of a Guest):

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FUTURE SEX LOVE SOUNDS: FUTURE ISSUE RELEASE PARTY

We can sleep when we’re dead. At least that’s what we told ourselves while putting together our baby, The Future Issue. Sound crazy? Not so much. But sleep depravation is only worth as much as the the extraordinary people and places we covered in our November/December issue, and it was only right that we hastily clocked out last Thursday to prepare our livers for a grand party celebrating the release of our magazine. With low ceilings and dim lighting, the ambiance at Hollywood’s newest underground bar, Dirty Laundry, provided the perfect space for clandestine dancing and libations for all, toasting our city’s most innovative creatives, artists, thinkers, and doers trailblazing their way into the future.

Of course, what better way to throw a party than to have it soundtracked by some of our city’s most talented musicians? Special guest Mystery Skulls set the tone for the night alongside our Soulection homies AbJo and Andre Power, and the ladies of Immigré.

Big ups to our friends with benefits and partners in crime who help us in spoiling our guests:  Tri-Antler | Grammy Museum | Warner Bros Music | The Vape Supply Co. | Monaco Vodka Cocktails | Sharetapes | Branded Arts | Duster Skateboards | Hint Water | See You Monday | Zanerobe. Proceeds from our silent auction will go to the Epilepsy Foundation.

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Much thanks to our photography partners: Tommy B for keeping the memories alive with a killer photo booth and Guest of a Guest for assisting with photo coverage. Photo credit for GOFG pictures: Nathan Telea.

Go tag-crazy with the rest of the LA CANVAS photo album on our Facebook.

THANK US NOW: THE COMPREHENSIVE GIFT GUIDE FOR EVERYONE IN YOUR CALL LOG

The holidays give some the warm fuzzies, and others perennial anxiety– at least for the latter group, the goddess (and Mr. Gore) gave us online shopping.  So before you adjust the backlight on your screen in the name of commercial nostalgia, why not take a peek at our CliffsNotes?

THE PRETENTIOUS MUSICIAN 

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1. Around the World in 80 Raves: A Guide to Best Parties & Festivals on the Planet
PRICE: $14.95 (via Urban Outfitters)
For those veteran EDC attendees, maybe it’s time they take their raver experience to new horizons. Place this book into the hands of the right kandi-toting, shufflin’ EDM-aficionado straight out of UC Irvine, and you will never see them ever again.

2. Amoeba gift cards
PRICE: Depends… how much does this person actually deserve?
Normally we’d point you to gift cards only if it’s the last absolute last resort, but truthfully, any pretentious musician will go ga-ga over some records from Amoeba. So throw a bone, or a vinyl or two, to your favorite crate-digger.

3. LSTN headphones
PRICE: Troubadours – $150 | Fillmores – $100 | Bowerys – $50
No matter your giftee’s degree of pretension, LSTN headphones has you covered. Whether they like over-ears or earbuds, all LSTN headphones are eco-friendly, handcrafted from reclaimed wood and sound fantastic.

4. Sharetapes 
PRICE: $6.99 – pack of 5 — $240 – 250 customized tapes
For all the lovers and hopeless romantics out there. Sharetapes give you the cuteness of a mixtape, but the practicality of credit-card size. This holiday season tell that special someone how you feel with a customizable playlist on the go.

5. Marshall Stanmore Speaker
PRICE: $400
Do you have a friend who wishes they had a reason to impress people by an array of amps, but are not blessed with the ability to actually play an instrument? Well, this is the gift for them. When they don’t have their intricately thought out playlist  blasting from the speaker, it will double as an amp look-a-like to impress the masses – or that cute neighbor upstairs.

 

FOR THE ONE WHO IS ALWAYS DRUNK (OR YOURSELF)

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1. Whiskey Cube Set
PRICE: $24.95 (via Urban Outfitters)
Watered down whiskey is for pansies. With this stone cube set you can now wean out those folk who have not established the taste for liquor. They can go back to their sugary drinks, while you look refined drinking in your study with this set – I mean, while the gift receiver looks great and dignified with these in their drink.

2. Assouline: Vintage Cocktails Book 
PRICE: $50 (via The Bazaar at SLS Hotel)
Nights in with friends are going to be more entertaining, and more prone to blackouts with this book at hand…you’re welcome.

3. Domaine LA
PRICE: $85-$150
Wine is a pretty fun gift to give. Why? Because it can be shared. So head to Domaine LA for their superb selection in small-time, family-run wine producers from Europe and the United States. And who knows, maybe owner Jill Bernheimer will let you sample two or three. Or four. We’re aiming for four.

4. Beer Making Kit
PRICE: $40
So, giving this gift can either have rewarding results or end in disaster. Fortunately, the Brooklyn Brew Shop makes home-brewing easy with their kits, and provides a wide variety of hoppy-goodness to fit your giftee’s (or your own) beer preference.

5. Gin & Luck Rucksack
PRICE: $99.99 at Cocktail Kingdom
Why didn’t we have this in college? That’s all we have to say.

#NODISRESPECTTOYOU #ALLDISRESPECTTOYOURSTYLIST

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1. Altru Apparel Glyph Button-Up
PRICE: $88
Are you finally sick of your male counterparts wearing boring button-ups (or grungy plaid) and thinking they look cool, or “ironic”? Altru Apparel gives the guy a classic, lightweight fit with an eye-catching print. Now it is safe to be seen in public with them.

2. See You Monday Leggings
PRICE: $7.95 – $23 (via KarmaLoop)
For the friend/sister/mom with some sass. These leggings add a pop to whatever your giftee decides to throw on – even that oversized t-shirt they rolled out of bed in.

3. Globe Mahalo (Navy/Plaid)
PRICE: $69.95
While you may not have worn Globe sneakers since 2005, when the puffy skate shoes were all the rage, you have been missing out. They are partaking in the minimalistic, clean look and are doing it really well. Pre-order the Mahalo’s and put their other sneakers to shame.

4. Paisley Sockwear
PRICE: $15
Grown man shoes need grown man socks … but you can’t go wrong with a little whimsicality either. 

5. TOPMAN x SIBLING/TOPMAN Black Leather Biker Jacket
PRICE: $160 // $300
Give yourself a reason to have a “Cool Christmas Sweater Party” rather than the overrated and overdone “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.”

6. Aark Watches
PRICE: $140 – $380 (can be found at Poketo)
Minimalistic but not mundane. Aark gives you an array of colors and design to fit just about every mood, outfit, and time of day.  This unisex watch is totes next level – and très chic.

GOT ME FEELIN’ SOME TYPE OF WAY…GIFTS

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1. Voluspa Candles | Japonica Collection
PRICE: $10 – $68 (@ Anthropologie)
Nothing sets the mood like a candle – and these are some of the best.

2. Love Nail Tree Jewelry 
PRICE: $12-$38
LNT gives you old school romance with their collection of jewelry. Ranging from simple shapes to intricate clock necklaces (not like Flavor Flav, tho). So whoever you give this gift to will feel stylish and special.

3. Royal Apothic Conservatory Collection eau de parfum
PRICE: $55
Not sure how you feel, but we think nothing is better than someone who smells like a million bucks – or in this case, royalty.

4. Hopeless Lingerie (Everything)
PRICE: $35 -$280
We are not really sure where we should begin on tempting you to buy your partner AT LEAST one thing from this website, because we want you to buy everything – and send us a care package too. The Aussie designer knows how to mix minimal coverage with class, and knows the quality of handmade products. Order quick though, we are sure Santa sent over a long list of orders already.

5. Radeo’s Pretty Glam Special Underwear
PRICE: $13 – $55
Your favorite Suicide Girl now adds designer to her resume. – a designer of panties, of course. While Radeo herself is not only sexy, but a true nerd at heart, her underwear come in galaxy print,  a cute robot friend , and well, herself.

6. Diptyque Smoothing Body Polish
PRICE:  $68 (@ Nordstrom)
Diptyque is more than just candles. This smoothing body polish will make anyone more soft to the touch, and make bath-time that much more luxurious.

YOU’RE SO VAIN, YOU KNOW THIS GIFT IS FOR YOU

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1. Imperial Barber Pomades
PRICE: $20 – $24 (@ No. A Boutique)
With barbershops becoming a culture of their own, we know you know someone with a fly haircut. These pomades will keep their hair in place with a variety of holds. They probably still won’t let you touch their hair, but you are one step closer because without you and your gift, they would be a mess.

2. Season’s Tweetings – Lush Gift set
PRICE: $59.95
This gift set is the one that will cause you to have a constant battle with yourself – deciding on whether you really should give it away or just keep it. Stuffed with Lush goodies like Rose Jam shower gel, celestial moisturizer and Noriko soap, it’s going to be hard to talk yourself out of thinking your sister deserves this more than you do.

3. Lime Crime Velvetines 
PRICE: $20
The best wingman — and wingwoman — are the ones that take care of you. So to keep your matchmaker streak going, you help set up your best friend for some Christmas lovin’, so you do three things: invite all your single friends over, set up the apartment with mistletoe galore and slap some Lime Crime Velvetine on her — she’s not going to keep those lips on for that much longer.

4. Oribe Shine Light Reflecting Spray
PRICE: $36
Once again, Oribe makes our lists. We cannot get enough of the brand and we are sure your giftee will spend more time in the mirror than they already do with any Oribe product, but our current fave is the Light Reflecting Spray. With the gloomy weather finally heading our way, who doesn’t want to shine bright?

5. Belmondo Face Kit 
PRICE: $150
Of course, in this year’s Secret Santa drawing, you got your brother’s buddy that somewhat resembles an LA-version of The Situation. Which is true, because of course, his tanning lotion is made of natural, olive-oil based products like Belmondo’s.

THE LA “TRAVELER”

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1. Fuji Instax Mini
PRICE: $125-$149
Pint-sized and definitely not your grandma’s Polaroid camera; perfect for the vintage-photo junkie because it’s like Instagram but for real-life.

2. ChargeCard : Slim USB Cable
PRICE: $25
After giving your friend this gift, their typical wallet check-list before a night out will turn into something like this: driver’s license, cash, credit card, condoms, gum, phone charger — okay, good to go.

3. Signal Snowboards
PRICE: $390 – $900
Winter is coming and the mountains will begin to be fueled by eager athletic individuals waiting to shred through that snow.  And like the first day of school, you need to look good your first day on the mountain. Whether you are a beginner, or an expert, Signal has what you need

4. Humble Bundle Travel Coffee Gift Set 
PRICE: $20
There’s just something about big cities and coffee. Even in 80-degree Novembers, Angelenos still require coffee for functioning, and this Humble Bundle just makes that addiction so much easier.

5. Shinola The Women’s Bixby
PRICE: $1,950
With the traffic being horrible all day, every day, what better gift to give your little LA wanderlust than a perfectly pink bicycle? Just watch out for busses.

THE NEXT MASTER CHEF JR.

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1. Milk Bottle Measuring Cup
PRICE: $24
Since Pyrex is too hood now, and the milk man no longer travels door-to-door, using a take on the old school milk bottles as measuring cups has got to be the way to go. And plus, it’s just cuter than your standard.

2. Reclaimed wood boards
PRICE: $32
Bring a little nature into your friend’s downtown loft because there is such a thing as too much metropolis.

3. Molecular Gastronomy Starter Kit
PRICE: $79.95
Psh. If 13-year-old Alexander Weiss can do it, how hard can it be? Isn’t the saying, “if you can read, you can cook?” …….. right?

4. Ladurèe Sucre Cookbook
PRICE: $30
Give your friend some Ladurèe macarons, and they’ll eat for a night. Teach them how to make Ladurèe macarons, and you can have some too.

JUST BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME

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Crooks & Castles X Monopoly Board Game Collectors Edition
PRICE: $80
Board game nights just got more street. If your homies can’t knock the hustle, then maybe you guys need to handle shit on the board at Mayfair and Park Lane.

BRINGING BEACH VIBES TO A CONCRETE JUNGLE: ALCHEMY WORKS

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Raan Parton, founder and creative director of Apolis, along with his wife Lindsay Parton, recently opened Alchemy Works – a stylish multipurpose garage-like retail store, art gallery, and event space. The large, bright, open studio with its high ceiling and burnish concrete floor was designed to reflect Raan’s hometown of breezy Santa Barbara. He wanted to bring cool beach vibes to the industrial-chic area known as the Art District, asserting that even downtown L.A. will have endless summers.

For it’s launch, Alchemy Works is selling its centerpiece, a neatly polished dark blue 1959 Fiat Abarth Spyder convertible, the only one in the U.S. yet somehow perfectly designed for a sunset drive down PCH. And fret not ladies, although the shop may look like a man’s dream garage, not everything in the store is for guys, there are some well-selected items for women as well.

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Almost all of the items in the store, including the art pieces, are made in California. Much like the art, everything in the store will be rotated in an effort to continue to provide a platform to showcase as many designers, photographers, and all around creatives that live in our city. Stop by frequently – there’ll always be something new to check out.