Hagop Tchaparian used to play in '90s UK punk-pop band Symposium, but in the early '00s became obsessed with electronic music. He was soon a regular at London club Fabric and ended up tour managing and doing live sound for Hot Chip in their early days (they named a song on The Warning after him). Around the same time, he also tour managed Four Tet, who became an even bigger influence, mentoring him as he began to make his own electronic music. He amassed snippets and beats but kept looking for emotional resonance that would tie them together, which ended up being found sound and field recordings. “I love synthesizers and music gear but there are some sounds that I hear around me as I go about my life that make me sit up and really pay attention," Tchaparian says. "I try to capture as much of them as I can and have used them as the main building blocks of the album. I need music to mean something to me otherwise I'm not as interested. It's a bit like younger days where I would just gravitate to certain inspiration like oxygen - I just really need it.” Bolts is Hagop's debut album, a decade in the making, that's out on Four Tet's Text Records and presents his unique, heady mix of dance music styles -- techno, drum and bass, footwork -- and those ambient field recordings. You can listen to the album below.

We asked Hagop to make us a list of influences behind Bolts, but what he sent us was something more, basically a history of how he went from skateboarding punk to clubgoer to travelling the world with Hot Chip and Four Tet to making his first album. It's a terrific read and he included lots of photos as well. Check that out, and the album, below.

HAGOP TCHAPARIAN - INFLUENCES BEHIND 'BOLTS'

1. Chris Christodoulou (TV & Film Director)

Accidentally meeting Chris was a pivotal gateway in to a whole new life! The band I was in had a part in a UK film [Five Seconds to Spare] with Ray Winstone. It was pretty boring with early starts and lots of waiting around but I had the good fortune to bump into this guy Chris Christodoulou who was a runner on the film. We had some shared heritage, were both from Fulham and our parents had both had greasy spoon cafs -- we just hit it off.

Pretty soon we were getting stuck in to London clubs like Fabric and going to drum and bass raves with people like DJ Hype playing. It was so much fun, we met loads of people and it was just a great change for me from being in a band, Coupled with the flyering outside clubs that I was doing to make money (due to some misfortune related to the band I was in), I was fully getting sucked into clubs and electronic music like never before. At some point Chris said: "I have these two friends that are making music in their bedroom, you should meet them," and that was when I first met Joe and Alexis of Hot Chip. If it wasn't for Chris, I would definitely not be here writing this. He is now a director and directs a lot of popular TV shows in the UK. Shout out Chris! This is us, Chris on the right:

Chris Christodoulou
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2. Hot Chip

After being introduced to them via Chris and attending some of their early shows, I pretty much instantly loved them and their music. They are five super smart, hilarious people.

The thing that inspired me the most was that they had made everything themselves and had released DIY (at first). Prior to that, my experiences had been with record companies and producers etc and it was my first time seeing up close that DIY was possible (and fun) and that there was a whole interesting scene going on. There was some talk of me being the manager but I ended up helping them out on the road and I learned so much from them. How they saw things. They way they looked at music. Travelling in between shows in the van, they would play song after song that I had never heard before. I also learned a lot doing the sound for Hot Chip and distinctly remember finding certain frequencies in the low end where the crowd would immediately respond when they played places like Sub Club in Glasgow and the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. "What if I just add a bit more here... oh yes!"

I love their music and they continue to be a huge source of inspiration and great advice. Bad Photo Of A Great Early Hot Chip Show:

hot chip show
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3. Four Tet / Kieran Hebden

The first time I met Kieran Hebden was when Hot Chip opened for Four Tet in the US. Over the years we have worked together and collaborated on a few things. Putting it lightly, Kieran has a knowledge of music like no one else. There's a great episode on BBC 6 Music where he picks a few things out from John Peel's collection that shows some of the depth of his knowledge!

Kieran gives really good feedback and has a unique ability to envision the context where the music will sit. He has so much wisdom and takes care to get things in the right place. It has been so much fun putting this project together with him and I have learned loads.

His music speaks for itself and he can communicate it on a genius level. I have had countless experiences standing at the back of a venue or in a field somewhere where he has just started doing the thing that he does (live or DJ) and just seen people unite with so much joy. We have had quite a few adventures together. He is a true genius.

Leila Hebden (management mogul) is also a big influence.

Four Tet
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2. Ryan Smith (of Caribou and Taraval)

Ryan is a big influence and has a studio in a concrete bunker that's full of synths and modular equipment. Aside from being an amazing guitar player in Caribou he makes techno bangers as Taraval. I played him the first few songs on the album and his confidence in making fast decisions and talent as a producer helped me to finalise them.

Ryan Smith's Studio:

attachment-Ryan Smith1
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attachment-Ryan Smith2
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4. Ibiza
I have been fortunate to spend quite a bit of time in Ibiza as I have a really good friend, "DJ Sadeedo," who lives there. The parties that he hosts and also the parties that he has taken me to are some of the best experiences I have ever had and have been very influential as well as a lot of fun! Pretty much all of this takes place off the beaten track in Ibiza, mainly more towards the north of the island. It's a world away from the superclubs -- rustic, dancing under the stars until the sun comes up then to deserted beaches or hikes in the forest and amazing food -- I love this island.

DJ Sadeedo in Ibiza
DJ Sadeedo in Ibiza
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5. Rinse FM & NTS
I love these two stations and feel lucky to be able to listen to them. It's so exciting to scroll through and hear all the sounds that people are putting out. Listening to the Ben UFO / Hessle audio show has been particularly influential and I try to never miss it. I also love Pete Tong's show.

6. Armenian Music & Instruments
Growing up in London with a very proud Armenian father, we were surrounded by Armenian music at home and in the car. It wasn't until I was a bit older that I was able to visit the places he had grown up and actually got to see some of the instruments in person and it was mind blowing. As a child he was removed from the place he was born in Turkey and ended up in a refugee camp in Lebanon. Without possessions, culture was pretty much all he had to carry with him.

Perhaps since they evolved at a time when mics weren't a thing, some of the instruments (particularly the Zurna) are SO loud that they are deafening to stand next to. Some of the samples on the album were taken from people just playing in the village but I also recorded some in person in LA (as featured on the song "GL") with my friend and recording guru Leopold Ross. We had to monitor from another room because being too close would have damaged our hearing!

In general, I really love collecting sounds and a lot of the samples on the album came from approaching a musician somewhere and asking if I can record them. When I listen back, I get instantly transported to that time and place. Things can sometimes get more interesting when those moments are blended with other sounds later on down the line. Some of the sounds that were blended in were inspired and facilitated by production master Dennis White at his studio in London. The synth sounds on the song "Right To Riot" were an example of this. Sometimes the synths themselves are a source of inspiration and Dennis has a good collection.

Some of Dennis White's Synthesisers:

attachment-Dennis White's Synthesisers
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I met two girls (Susanna and Lilit) in Armenia in the street and they play this instrument called a Qanun that features on the album. They study their whole life to play this instrument and it has so many strings it takes over ten minutes to tune. See below..

Typical Village Scene In Anjar Lebanon:

People dance in a circle around the Zurna (reed instrument) and Dhol (bass drum)
People dance in a circle around the Zurna (reed instrument) and Dhol (bass drum)
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Make Shift Recording Session Yerevan, Armenia

Susanna Manaseryan & Lilit Gevorgyan
Susanna Manaseryan & Lilit Gevorgyan
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7.Clubs
Whether its Plastic People or Printworks, I find clubs to be such special places and have had some truly influential and inspirational musical and social moments in them. I have been to many clubs in different places and they all have something different about them. I hope to go to many more! As a child I remember finding refuge hiding under the dinner table, escaping from family guests. For me, Plastic People (maybe because of the ceiling) had this same kind of thing about it where I felt like I was under a table in the dark just letting loose and escaping from the formality of everything.

8. Raves in Fields
I read about a study from a football stadium somewhere that said that when there are more than a certain number of people in a group, people no longer act as individuals but they act collectively. The football match I sampled for the album track "LDZ" was one such occasion. I was just overcome with the collective euphoria of the crowd.

I once turned up to a rave in the outback in Australia with Four Tet on a Monday where the people had been partying since the Friday a few days before. It was such a crazy vibe, people seemed a bit dazed and I couldn't believe they were still awake! Kieran started DJ-ing at 1 PM and played until 4 PM and in this time I watched him take the crowd from barely hanging in there to a full on state of mass euphoria - absolutely amazing.

Pitch Music & Arts Festival, Australia, 2:20pm, Monday.
Pitch Music & Arts Festival, Australia, 2:20pm, Monday.
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9. Not Doing what you are Supposed To Do
I am really inspired by artists who don't do what they are expected to do. People like Yves Klein for example. It can be so tempting to just play the game and do the usual dog and pony show. Floating Points and Caribou (and everyone else I mentioned) are so inspiring to me because they just seem to do what they want on their own terms. When it comes to arranging the music, I try to go with what I am feeling rather than a number of bars per section for example.

Four Tet, Floating Points, hagop tchaparian
Four Tet, Floating Points and me (Picture Courtesy Of DJ Dials)
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10. Skateboarding
Skateboarding has been a continual source of inspiration throughout my life. Just jumping on my board and cruising around or hitting a park makes time stand still. There's a culture of creativity that surrounds skateboarding that really speaks to me -- fashion, design, art, music, style -- there's so much there. I discovered a ton of music through skate videos.

When we were discussing the cover art for the album, somehow we connected with Atiba Jefferson (skate photography legend) and he was down to provide the cover art. He sent over a selection of images and we ended up going with photos featuring pro skateboarders Sean Malto and Kevin "Spanky" Long. I truly cannot believe that the cover of my album was shot by Atiba. It's like a dream.

Hagop Tchaparian - Bolts
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"Right To Riot" Artwork by Atiba Jefferson Featuring Kevin "Spanky" Long
"Right To Riot" Artwork by Atiba Jefferson Featuring Kevin "Spanky" Long
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