Beat Construction: Joe Goddard

Photographer jamie stoker
June 15, 2013

Doctor feel good

Born and raised in Fulham, a neighborhood in Southwest London, Joe Goddard was surrounded by a wide range of musical influences from an early age. From late ’80s hip-hop records passed down from older boys at school to the flourishing dance music scene of the city at the time, Goddard engaged everything club bouncers would allot him access to. There were drum & bass nights at Metalheadz, trips to Notting Hill Carnival for the Soundsystems and much later, “Forward” night in the Soho district with Skream and Benga. “[I’ve] just always been obsessed with music, and London has so much to offer,“he says by phone from local recording studio Club Ralph.

Starting with CoolEdit and Isley Brothers samples at 14, Goddard began making beats for schoolmates with rap dreams, as well as cultivating a creative relationship with Alexis Taylor, a high school classmate with whom he later started Hot Chip. Several years and many CD-R demos later, they released their first album, Coming On Strong, in 2004, through local indie label Moshi Moshi. Critical acclaim, a Grammy nomination and an enduring impact on indie dance music would follow, but apart from the group, Goddard has gone on to establish himself as a wildly popular DJ and remixer, one half of house/garage outfit The 2 Bears with Raf Rundell and more recently, head of his own label, Greco-Roman. The success he’s had both as a part of and beyond Hot Chip is something Goddard credits to never knowing which flag exactly he wanted to fly. “We never really felt like we were full-on indie kids, or dance kids,” he says. “We’re somewhere in the middle, so we liked to kind of take conventions from those different worlds and kind of mix them together.”

Goddard first encountered the concept of a remix through Pete Rock’s reworking of House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” Among his own standout recastings, he’s transformed Nneka’s meandering “Shining Star” into a thumping flurry of electronic drum kits and sped-up vocals. The original, a song so righteously neo-soul that the video was shot entirely in a forest, is reinvented as a nine-minute dance track reminiscent of the perfect soul/house marriages of Crystal Waters or Donna Summer’s work with Giorgio Moroder. Similarly, Jessie Ware’s “Night Light” is sped up for the dance floor, breathing new energy into a song that could’ve been used to pacify crying babies with the addition of a swirling funk synth line. “Approaching a remix, the parts have obviously already been created so the task is to listen through the stems and find things that you like within them as a starting point,” Goddard says. “Also, thinking about how a remix could make the song feel good to a new audience that might not otherwise have heard it.”

Remixing young artists’ work posits Goddard as an elder statesmen of the dance-pop generation now flourishing years after Hot Chip helped popularize the sound, as well as gifting indie cred and alternate exposure to artists like Nneka and Ware. As he looks forward to another solo EP, Taking Over, as well as the first Greco-Roman compilation in July, Goddard is a man comfortably skating the lines between dance, pop, house, soul and indie, and doing it all without sacrificing quality control. “The world is far too full of pointless, poorly-made remixes that really have no reason to exist,” he says, expressing a sentiment with which far too many YouTube commenters can whole-heartedly agree.

From The Collection:

Beat Construction
Beat Construction: Joe Goddard