How Hagop Tchaparian Went From Pop-Punk Star to A-List Tour Manager to Globe-Trotting Electronic Musician

How Hagop Tchaparian Went From Pop-Punk Star to A-List Tour Manager to Globe-Trotting Electronic Musician

Soon, Tchaparian was out of the band and trying to make ends meet. He flyered outside nightclubs, cleaned the floors of the local town hall, and did construction in the million-pound house of a musician that, just a few years before, he’d rubbed elbows with in the studio. But shortly before the group’s demise, as part of a plan to pay off their debts, Symposium’s members had landed bit parts in a movie called Five Seconds to Spareplaying a band called—ironically enough—the Unfortunates. On set, Tchaparian struck up a friendship with a production runner who also happened to be Armenian. They’d hang out, get coffee, go clubbing. At one point, the friend mentioned that he had two acquaintances who were making music—would Hagop like to meet them? And that’s how Tchaparian first encountered Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard, of a then-fledgling project called Hot Chip.

What they were doing—not quite house music, not really rock music, and all on their own terms—was the polar opposite of everything Tchaparian had experienced with Symposium. “They were just so cool,” he recalls. Meeting them was “a weird, magical gateway.” He’d pitch in after their shows, breaking down gear and hauling crates to the curb. It wasn’t so much that he was looking for a job, he says. “Just, like, ‘Oh, I can actually be useful.’”

Goddard recalls, “He began helping us with everything we needed—driving, doing live sound, selling merch, setting stuff up. For a long time, he wasn’t even paid—he just likes to be involved.” Eventually, Tchaparian became Hot Chip’s tour manager, shepherding the band from Motel 6 to Motel 6 as they crossed the U.S. by van. “Hagop has incredible energy and positivity,” marvels Goddard. “Although he did an insane amount of work, he never became frustrated—he just got on with it and made the shows happen, on a tiny budget.”

Tchaparian downplays his organizational skills. “There are tour managers that have printers and a flashlight and a first-aid kit in their backpack—that’s not me,” he protests. Nevertheless, his time with Hot Chip soon landed him work helping out Junior Boys and Four Tet. He describes the friends he met through these experiences as “geniuses”—a social circle that includes Caribou’s Dan Snaith and Floating Points’ Sam Shepherd, who he mentions so often that at one point he apologizes, swearing that he’s not trying to drop names. “I could feel my brain jiggling around with excitement,” he says of hanging out with them. Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden describes Tchaparian as a friend first and a right hand second. “He’s been with me at some of the craziest moments I’ve had as a DJ,” Hebden says. “I’ll turn around and he’ll be there screaming with excitement. He sees the magic of it all in the same way as me.”

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