Crystal Fighters - Interview!

Mixmag presents ‘Big In The Bass’ event at Egg this Friday, here is an interview with headliners, electro five-piece Crystal Fighters

Eva Oyon

Date published: 22nd Jul 2009

Hey guys, firstly how are you all and how has the year been for you so far? Things seem to be on the way up pretty swiftly?

The last year has been amazing.  Having such a broad range of people respond so enthusiastically to what we thought was a really niche style of music has been really great, from Nick Grimshaw to Brodinski, and Mixmag to NME. Signing with Kitsune to release our first two singles has opened up loads of cool opportunities for us including travelling and playing with some amazing artists, but also given us the time to write our album
So how did everything get started, how did you meet and when did you start playing together?

Gilbert and Sebastian have been friends since extremely young, and Gilbert met Graham in 2007 and forced him to move to London and start to make music with Sebastian. We started out experimenting with all sorts of genres including synth metal, lo-fi r'n'b, acoustic stuff and so on under many different guises until Laure, one of Crystal Fighters' two female singers, brought back this amazing book back from the Basque Country (Spain).  The book was an unfinished opera written by Laure's grandfather which had a section within it that roughly translates to “Crystal Fighters”.  The opera is an amazing and unusual piece of work that has opened us up to all sorts of ideas and indeed to the world of Basque folk music and mythology that informs all of our music-making.  It is amazing enough that we have spent the last year and a half in this band trying to perform it and in some sense finish it.

For anyone unfamiliar with you, describe yourselves in 3 words…
Fast, mesmeric and passionate.
Where and when was your first gig and how did it go?
We formed the band with the intention of performing this extremely intense and unpredictable opera at venues where people were used to seeing either a DJ or a band strumming guitars.  Our first show had props including two bottles of tequila, txalapartas (a traditional Basque instrument), signs explaining the plot of the opera, and loads of dramatic stage directions all to a soundtrack of wonky bass, latin percussion and enormous passionate hooks. It was chaotic and we've been trying to bring that sort of energy to every show since.

You seem to fit in well with the current band/dance music crossover, what kind of genre would you settle yourselves into and who may you compare yourselves to?
We have been tagged with a few different combinations of genres. 'Globo-wonk-funk' is a fun one, as is 'baile punk'. I guess, we consider ourselves to be a mixture of folk, electro, punk, techno, dubstep and Spanish pop. We are kind of like the sound that would be created if The Velvet Underground and The Gipsy Kings were to travel back in time to the Pyrenees, 1980, and make a record with Skream, Madlib and Luciano on production.
Name 3 Crystal Fighters heroes, dead or alive…

Arthur Brown, arguably paved the way for acts like us to exist, Benjamin of Tudela (a 12th Century Basque explorer who pretty much discovered Asia for the Spanish), Silverio (Google him.  The infamous y-fronted, Jheri-curled Mexican electro-punk pioneer.  The music's not great but the vibe is definitely right.)

You regularly share flyer space with some incredible artists, who has made a lasting impression on you along the way and why?

We played with Selfish C**t last year and we were really impressed by them.  Their lead singer is one of the best front men we've seen, dead or alive.  It's not dance music, but their live show is a great inspiration to us and the energy we try to create when we perform.

Your gigs also take you all over the place, which country would you love to play in and where do you always find great crowds?

There's this enormous rave that happens every year at a place called Zugarramurdi in the Basque Country.  It takes place in a huge mountain cave on the night of the Summer Solstice and is apparently completely wild.  We'd love to play at that. 
You are playing for Mixmag’s next massive party at the Egg later this month, what can the crowd expect to hear from you?

They will hear bits of our album, bits of our remixes that are more like complete re-workings, and a few Crystal Fighters classics, all within a journey that will feel at times like a haunting and at times like an awakening.   

Where else can we catch you this summer?
We are playing at the Razmatazz in Barcelona, War Child Charity party at the Tabernacle in London, Secret Garden Party, 1234 Festival, Lethargy in Zurich, Lowlands in Amsterdam, amongst others.

Any choice last words?

Never mistake the rim of a rut for the horizon.
Catch Crystal Fighters this Friday at Egg for ‘Mixmag Big In The Bass’