For the Love of Prince: Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip and Matt Thorne Share their Mutual Obsession

The late Prince receives lovin' in the Red Bull conversation room during Metropolis on Friday night

A music festival with talking, ah sure! No better way to start out a conversation at Metropolis than with Prince’s ‘Muse to the Pharaoh.' Ready to go, Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor kicks off the conversation by asking about whether Matt Thorne, author of Prince, sees a clear influence by other musicians, particularly R&B singer D’Angelo, in that song. Matt infers that the whole neo-soul movement influenced ‘Muse to the Pharaoh,’ not one sole person.

The two discuss D'Angelo a bit more, and recall how Prince did not like people using his songs, such as when Tom Jones made a cover of ‘Kiss.' But his attitude for when D’Angelo reworked ‘She Work,’ Prince seemed to admire that endeavour.

Next, Alexis treats the audience to ‘Ex’s Face,’ igniting Matt to inquire how he perceives the music as a musician versus a writer. He says the music feels “engaging” and he is drawn specifically towards the strangeness and unusualness of ‘Ex’s Face. In particular he thinks it is “Nice to hear a strange atmospheric song, moving from the 80s.”

The third track ‘Bob George’ comes from the Black Album and Alexis explains how Prince is talking about himself in third person for the song but in a humorous in a way. Take these lyrics for example,"That skinny motherfucker with the high voice?"It’s an example of the proto-hip-hop experimentation Prince underwent, and is yet again described as ‘unusual’ – a common word Alexis attaches to Prince’s music.

Matt also finds a lot to say about ‘Joy in Repetition,’ bouncing off Alexis’s idea that the song pertains to a joy in musical repetition. The author feels that Prince found joy in the repetition of relationships, thinking that Prince was writing about the idea of being with one person forever and forever.

Among other topics, Miles Davis's 60s to 70s period pops up and how his style of moving quickly through genres really resonated with Prince's own experimentation with rock, pop, funk, and R&B.

In the question round, a fella wants to know the best way to stagger the release of Prince’s songs. Matt hopes no one improves upon the songs, but maintains the state that they are already in because alterations could mar Prince’s original intent.

The conversation fades out after comparing David Bowie’s final album Black Star to Prince’s last release Hit and Run, before their respective deaths. The Metropolis weekend surely provided no better celebration for two absolute legends who inspired a generation of music.

 

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