Bryan Hollon AKA Boom Bip is back with a new record, Zig Zaj, as furious and fabulous as we have come to expect from his extended repertoire of awesome. With a healthy number of beautiful collaborations thrown into the mix, we hooked up with the prolific producer to talk stage dynamics, UK dates, Neon Neon news, and Boom Bip’s future sounds...
How are you?
The current tour is underway, what’s happening with UK dates?
We’ve postponed the UK dates right now. A lot of the band members are doing things with other bands, and it would be really tight. We figured it best to put it off just another month and a half. I think we’re shooting for late November, early December.
What’s the line-up for the tour?
I have Eric Gardner playing drums. He plays with a lot of people; Charlotte Gainsbourg, Gnarls Barkley, Tom Morello on his new project, and Beck for a while. And I've got Josiah Steinbrick, [who] plays in a band called The Moore. Then [there is] Josh Klinghoffer who is in the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
What equipment are you using?
It’s funny you should ask, that’s what I’ve been sorting out today. All the gear is streamlined as much as possible. We're always go grand, you know? We want to bring as much gear as possible but it’s not feasible to do that. So we’re keeping it fairly simple for a Boom Bip show I guess. I’ve got the synthesisers that I’m playing plus a guitar and Eric just has a standard kit with some extra toms. Josiah has a bass guitar and two synthesisers, and Josh has one synth and a guitar with like sixty pedals, in true Josh fashion. He is a pedal fanatic; it’s amazing what he can do with them [laughs].
Are there any guest appearances on the cards?
I’m hoping with Alex (Kapranos, of Franz Ferdinand), if we can do some shows around London or in Scotland, he’d definitely be down. Maybe Mikey from Bon Iver, It’s just a matter of being in the same place at the same time. Some things will definitely happen, I’m sure Cate [Le Bon] will be up for it. I’m going to be spending some time in Wales around that time, in December I’ll probably be over there writing with Gruff [Rhys].
You’ve worked with a wide variety of musicians and artists, is this partly responsible for your genre deviation?
It’s just my love of different genres of music. I have a hard time focusing on a particular style. My records explore a lot of different genres and that’s all purely based on influence. Collaborating with different people with their own defined style can help me focus. With Gruff and Neon Neon it was easier, but even Stainless Style was all over the place. That’s my contribution, if you collaborate with me it’s likely it’s going to go down a bunch of different avenues. Some people could really enjoy that, and others could think it’s a bit distracting maybe.
So these collaborations anchor you?
Absolutely. With Boom Bip records I’ve never put any limitations on what I’m doing. That’s part of the fun, you know? It’s kind of feeding this need to educate myself and my appetite is huge. It makes you sort of a scatter brain when you’re actually trying to write, so when I have an artist like Alex who comes in, or Luke [Steele of Empire of The Sun fame], it helps me focus because I know what their style is, I want to touch on their style and also make it sound like a Boom Bip song.
What is your ideal situation to create music?
There’s no ideal situation, I enjoy very much the band dynamic. But now that I have done that, I kind of like the idea of the next Boom Bip record to just be completely me, see what happens. The ideal situation changes I guess. Ideally I wanted to work with other people, we had a very communal space that we recorded in with a very live feel, that’s what you get with ‘Zig Zaj’. I learnt a tremendous amount on this record about production and mixing and I think you can hear that but I think with the next one I want to see what comes out of a truly solo album.
And you are also planning to write with Gruff Rhys as well?
We’ve taken on this approach where we are a biographical band, so we’re going to focus on a different person for each record. The new record [will be] a whole different aesthetic, we’re not even sure if we want to call it Neon Neon. You’ll know that it’s us, but the sound will be quite different. When I’m over there in November, we’re going to finish these demos we started. The plan is to get back together in the spring and record what we’ve got, and then maybe a fall release next year?
What would you say has been the most prolific and exciting collaboration?
Well Gruff and I have a special relationship. He definitely brings out the best in me, but with [Zig Zaj] Luke was really inspiring to work with. He is tremendously talented, and the track that we did together ‘New Order’ was just us going berserk with some 80’s psychotic vibe. I feel that Luke definitely brought a lot of creativity out of me. We weren’t holding back at all, and you can hear that. I feel it’s the peak of the record.
Do you like to mess with audience expectations, or is it simply what pleases you?
I like that aspect of it, the records I’ve always appreciated are kind of all over the place, like Pink Floyd, they were all over the place, or someone like Syd Barrett. As a listener I love surprises. I find that if someone is getting that in my records then that’s great.