Chicks on Speed are a female electroclash band, born when Alex and Melissa met at the Munich Art Academy in Munich, Germany in 1997. Chicks on Speed's core members are Melissa Logan (Upstate NY, USA) and Alex Murray-Leslie (Bowral, Australia), who collaborate with amongst others Anat Ben-David (Tel Aviv, Israel), Kathi Glas (Berlin, Germany) and A.L. Steiner (NY, USA). Around Chicks on Speed there is grouped a large and ever-changing collective of musicians, producers, fashion and graphic artists, designers, film and video makers, and so on. Though usually considered part of such musical genres as electroclash, actually Chicks on Speed started as a multidisciplinary art group, who applied punk-inspired DIY ethic to performance art, collage graphics and home-made fashion (they have created their own stage costumes with cheap and recycled material such as plastic bags and gaffa tape, for example). They originally got their name when they earned some extra money at art galleries by hanging paintings to the walls, and someone quipped that they worked like "chicks on speed". They had their own club nights at Munich's Seppi Bar: Chicks on Speed had created an installation piece which was called "I Wanna Be A DJ, Baby", where they stood behind DJ decks and smashed records while a sound collage tape was playing. For this project they also put together a "box set" with a T-shirt, a cassette, a paper record and a fake interview for their "band", at this stage yet imaginary. During this time period they met Upstart (a.k.a. Peter Wacha) of Disko B record label who helped Chicks on Speed to actually get started in music.
Chicks on Speed's attitude, combining punk rock aesthetics and feminism -- inspired among all by the cultural criticism of such people as Situationists, Valerie Solanas or Stewart Home -- towards music-making is mischievous, prankish and not a little bit ambiguous; they have jokingly called themselves a "fake band", as a sort of parody of producer-led girl groups like Spice Girls. On the other hand they are very serious about running the whole business; with single and album releases, promotional videos, tours and their own record label, not to mention their art exhibitions, performances, fashion designs and similar activities. The ambiguity is about whether they want to remain an experimental art project or aspire towards being a pop act making it all the way to the charts.
The critical and audience responses to Chicks on Speed have been mixed: they have had their championing proponents -- such as British journalists Piers Martin and Jill Mingo (who works as their PR/press officer), and pHinn (who has maintained their extensive "Official Unofficial" fan site since 2000 at pHinnWeb) -- who think that their approach is fresh and innovative, not to speak about their dedicated hardcore fans, but negative comments have been heard too from the critics (often male) who think Chicks on Speed are just faddish and dilettante-ish, their cultural criticism only half-baked and contrived sloganeering (this was obvious, for example, by the less-than-enthusiastic reception their 2004 album Press the Spacebar had among many critics). The worst audience response to Chicks on Speed was probably had when in June 2004 they played as the warm-up act for the Red Hot Chili Peppers' UK tour, which reached its climax at Hyde Park, London: Chicks on Speed were bottled off of the stage virtually on every date by the Red Hot Chili Peppers fans who were less than understanding towards the Chicks' art-punk attitudes and their Hymn "We Don't play Guitars".