Interview: Crystal Fighters
Published on August 19th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Fresh from the success of their recent Cave Rave album, Crystal Fighters are gearing up towards staging an actual real life cave rave in the Basque Countryside on August 29th.
Intrigued? We were, so we caught up with multi-instrumentalist Graham Dickson to ask him about that and various other matters, including his band’s fascinating inception…
How’s your summer been? Any particular festival highlights?
Ah man, it’s been great. There’ve been some really awesome festivals. There was one in Lisbon where we got to play with Vampire Weekend and Edward Sharpe, and we were playing at 3 in the morning which was cool.
We were in Slovakia last weekend and everyone got cancelled except for us because of rain and wind! Other than that we went to America for a month doing club shows, so it hasn’t really been one show that’s done it for me so much as most of them.
And you’ve got a few more still to come, I believe…
Yeah, this weekend we’ve got Pukkelpop in Belgium and Lowlands in Holland, and Reading and Leeds are coming up.
I gather you guys are in the process of getting a video together for “LA Calling”. Have you been involved in this?
I have been involved. There are some pretty awesome treatments coming in; we haven’t chosen one yet but it should be great.
How did you come to learn to play so many exotic instruments?
Basically our initial inspiration was this book written by a guy in the Basque country, and it got us interested in early Basque mythology, which led us to early Basque instrumentation.
It’s really through that that we started going to the Basque country and picking up local instruments and learning how to play them. That really sparked it, and now we pick up instruments from all over the world and use them on record.
I was reading about Laure’s grandfather’s manuscript and it sounds fascinating. How would you say it’s infused itself into the music? Do you quote it in the lyrics?
It’s not necessarily always quoted in the lyrics but it’s definitely been an inspiration and will continue to be an inspiring thing for the rest of our lives, in terms of the philosophy behind it and the ancient European culture.
So yeah, this album was definitely inspired by it as well, but I think this time we looked more beyond the Basque culture and into the ancient European times, 35,000 years ago when people were documenting early creative experiences in caves.
The horizon’s broadened for this album: we used instruments from Africa, South America and other indigenous regions of the world.
Is Laure still in the band? Your Wikipedia entry lists her as a former member.
She’s around. I mean, anyone who’s ever done anything with us will always be part of the crew. She’s doing her own thing at the moment, I think because we’re touring so much. But yeah, she’s not gone.
What can people expect from the cave rave itself?
Fun! I’m really excited about it. The cave itself has been used for ceremonies for thousands of years, and we’re getting a bunch of local musicians to come play some of the traditional instruments.
The after party’s in San Sebastián at midday the next day, I believe, so it should be a fun, kind of epic experience in the middle of nowhere, I imagine.
I read that within the band you were “torn” about Sebastian doing a track-by-track guide to the new album. How did you feel about it yourself?
Interesting knowledge! (Laughs) I dunno, I think there’s something to be said for mystery and interpreting things your own way.
There are a lot of songs that I thought meant one thing, then once I heard the writer of the song talk about it and I realised it was about another thing, it changed my appreciation of the song in a way.
On the other hand, there have been a lot of songs where I wish I’d known what they were really about, that I’d love to have somebody actually tell me the true meaning of. It’s a double-edged sword.
Who are these “fast-moving criminal friends in London” Sebastian mentions in the guide?
(Laughs in recognition) Oh, yeah. Erm…we’ve had some friends who were involved in illegal activity, but not necessarily criminal in the most negative way. I think we can all agree that some laws are ridiculous!
One of our friends got in some trouble, so there’s a little bit of a shout-out to him.
Have you talked yet about what you might do next as a band? Do you have material in mind for your next album?
At the moment we’re really focusing on touring and expanding the live set from the last album and playing as much as we can, but we’re always thinking about the next thing and we’ve already got some ideas going around for the next album.
I’m not exactly sure when or where we’re going to record it, but yeah we’re always thinking about what’s coming next so something will come, for sure.
Finally, which have been your favourite albums from this year?
Oh man, Mount Kimbie’s new album. IS TROPICAL’s new album is really good too; Luke Smith produced that one.
I don’t know if you know Arthur Beatrice but their album is about to come out in a few months and it’s the best album I’ve heard in years.
Shlomo’s album kind of blew me away. I’m listening to a lot of minimal techno and stuff; I DJ so I’m just trying to get new records all the time.
Oh, and Prince; it’s not new, but every few years I go through these waves of listening to Prince and he’s been blowing my mind all over again.
Graham Dickson, thank you.
Cave Rave is out now on Zirkulo In Association With Shamrock Solutions and Shirecroft LLP.