A little over six months since his last visit to the Golden City, English electronica druid Jon Hopkins is making a return again month, with a new show ready to be staged at the Warfield on the 12th. And already, the show is fast selling out. This kind of popularity may seem peculiar for a musician who only has five studio albums under his belt, and operates mostly as a producer-slash-eminence grise. But as his fans and critics will tell you, Hopkins’s musical talent is too brilliant to be measured against numbers alone.
Hopkins has dabbled in a bit of everything. He’s written his own music, he’s collaborated with several other artists, and he’s composed scores for various films; but it’s as a producer and innovator, in the mould of Brian Eno, that Hopkins has reached the widest audience. You’ve definitely heard work with his stamp on it, even if you don’t know it – from Coldplay’s Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, to his work with David Holmes (of Ocean’s Eleven and Hollywood movie soundtrack fame).
With each endeavor, he’s outdone his previous work. But Hopkins’s genius musicianship had a humble beginning; he started off playing the keyboard for English singer Imogen Heap, of Hide and Seek fame. He toured with her band before starting work on his own debut album Opalescent. Upon its release, it was so well-received that many of the tracks were licensed to Sex and the City.
But when his second album Contact Note didn’t take off as well as he’d hoped it would, Hopkins took a detour and ventured into music production. Wearing this hat, he produced King Creosote’s album Bombshell and co-produced that multi-multi-platinum Coldplay record alongside Eno. Following the immense success of the latter, Hopkins toured with the band for around six months, opening to arenas across cities in the UK, Japan, and the United States.
Then, Entity happened. Hopkins was commissioned by choreographer Wayne McGregor to compose music for the production, and the success of this work inspired the musician to create his third album five years after his second. Titled Insides, the record was at number 15 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart, and emerged as one of the top ten electronic albums in 2009.
Despite the success of his third record, or perhaps because of it, Hopkins once again took a break from creating studio albums. This time, he ventured into film music and also took on a number of solo shows. One of the most significant collaborations of his career happened when he was invited to perform solo at the Sydney Opera House, for the Luminous Festival. Among his musical compositions for films, Hopkins has the soundtracks for titles like The Lovely Bones and lo-fi sci-fi breakout Monsters to his credit.
His fourth album Immunity dropped in 2013, and much like its predecessor, it was extremely well-received. It stood at the 13thspot on the Billboard Top Electronic Albums, and was even nominated for the Mercury Prize. Hopkins’s most recent album Singularity came out last year. And this time, his work was nominated for the Grammy Awards. That’s quite an arc – and this week, he comes to San Francisco. If you like off-beat, carefully-constructed electronica that’s food for the ears and the soul as well as the feet and the lasers, check it out.
Photos by Pitch Perfect PR