On his own and with collaborators such as Brian Eno, Coldplay, Massive Attack, and Herbie Hancock, English producer Jon Hopkins blends his classical training and passion for electronic music into lush arrangements and soothing ambiences. As the 2010s drew to a close, he established himself as an Ivor Novello and Mercury Prize-nominated composer and musician.
Growing up in Wimbledon, Hopkins was a gifted child pianist who studied piano at the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music for five years. Along with his fascination with the works of Ravel and Stravinsky, he also fell in love with electronic music at a young age and was a fan of synth pop acts like Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys. During his teens, he started making acid house and drum’n’bass, using the money he won from piano competitions to buy himself synths and recording gear.
After leaving school, Hopkins joined Imogen Heap’s band as a keyboardist, and toured with her throughout 1998. He signed to Just Music in 2001, and recorded his debut album, Opalescent, while working part-time as a studio session musician in Wembley. His next album, 2004’s Contact Note, had a more cinematic feel. It gained the respect of Brian Eno, who recruited Hopkins to play keys on his 2005 album, Another Day on Earth, beginning a long-running collaboration between the two. Around this time, Hopkins also began another extended creative relationship with King Creosote, producing the Scottish singer/songwriter’s 2007 album, Bombshells. That year, Eno invited Hopkins to work on Coldplay’s 2008 album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, on which he played various keyboards and co-produced several tracks with Eno. Along with serving as the opening act on Coldplay’s 2008 world tour, he composed music for Entity, a piece by choreographer Wayne McGregor that was performed worldwide.
During this time, Hopkins also worked on his own music, and released his third solo album, Insides, in May 2009. Combining strings, piano and dubstep-tinged bass along with synths and beats, the album reached number 15 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums chart. Hopkins continued to collaborate, working with Tuung on their 2009 EP, Seven Gulps of Air, and joining forces with Eno, Underworld’s Karl Hyde, longtime friend Leo Abrahams, and the Necks as Pure Scenius, an improv group that played a series of concerts. Hopkins also began composing for film, working with Eno and Abrahams on the score to Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones. On his own, he wrote the music for the 2010 short film Rob and Valentyna and Gareth Edwards’ sci-fi film Monsters, which was also released in 2010 and earned an Ivor Novello Award nomination for Best Original Score. That year, Hopkins reunited with Abrahams and Eno on the improvisation-based album Small Craft on a Milk Sea. In 2011, he and King Creosote released the largely acoustic Diamond Mine; the culmination of seven years worth of work, it was nominated for a Mercury Prize. The pair followed it with two EPs, 2011’s Honest Words and 2012’s The Jubilee.
Diamond Mine influenced Hopkins’ 2013 album, Immunity, an organic-sounding set of energetic dance music and more reflective moments that also earned a Mercury Prize nomination. After writing the score for the 2013 film How I Live Now, he returned with 2014’s Asleep Versions, an EP of tranquil and vocal-heavy versions of tracks from Immunity featuring vocals from King Creosote and Braids’ Raphaelle Standell-Preston. In 2015, Hopkins contributed a volume to the LateNightTales mix series, and reissued Opalescent in 2016 to celebrate its 15-year anniversary. Early in 2018, the single “Emerald Rush” heralded the release of his fifth album, Singularity, that May. ~ Heather Phares