Interview: Crystal Fighters

Crystal Fighters - Photo courtesy of Crystal Fighters

Crystal Fighters – Photo courtesy of Crystal Fighters

Folk-dance band Crystal Fighters recently released its second full-length album, Cave Rave, and to celebrate, the band plans on throwing an actual cave rave this summer.

“It’s in the Basque Country,” shared band member Gilbert Vierich before a recent show in Berlin. “It’s in a cave. It follows a tradition of cave raves in the Basque Country and it’s going to be awesome.”

While the cave rave is a nod to the Basque culture, the same could be said for many of the other influences the band draws its inspiration from.

The story goes that band member Laure Stockley was cleaning out the belongings of her late grandfather at his home in the Basque countryside, and stumbled upon an unfinished opera. Using the bits and pieces of what was there, the band set out to reconstruct and expand upon his ideas, which they then went on to present not only in the music, but also the live performance.

Although the group – formed in Navarra, Spain – uses some traditional instruments and Spanish folk and punk music to inspire its sound, the group is based in London, a city renown for being a tough market to crack. However, in addition to offering a unique sound, Crystal Fighters had the home-field advantage in building its fanbase there from the ground up.

“I guess the way we started it was perfect for London, because it was just to play lots of shows, like all the time. I think we did…97 shows in London in 2009,” Vierich said. “It’s a busy busy place, and it has loads and loads of small, rubbish clubs, so we just played those…the good thing was London has enough shitholes with club nights on that need talent.”

Vierich explained that many of the beginning shows were to small crowds of less than a dozen, and just looking at the group’s following today, it’s hard to believe that it’s the same band that is now routinely selling out venues.

“The thing is, it’s not that crazy, because it’s all happened step by step,” Vierich said. “Every step feels right.”

And since the May 27th release date of Cave Rave, the most recent step is beginning to play the new songs and incorporating them into the set.

“The beast is ever-evolving, the live show is constantly evolving,” Vierich said. “It’s like, definitely, the new songs are adding a dimension. We still haven’t added all the new songs into the set, so once we have that…I guess it will really start to show.”

Shortly before the album was released, lead singer Sebastian Pringle wrote a track-by-track guide to the songs, something which the band members are torn about. On one hand, it can demystify things, but on the other, this decoding of meaning is a gateway for listeners.

“That’s just one take on it. That’s just how Sebastian saw it that day when he was writing his track by track guide, [and] I think we all agree…that’s just something we were asked to do. At the same time, you know, it’s important, maybe, to open up the peoples’ interpretations,” Vierich shared. “I guess the whole point, honestly, [is] people should interpret music however they want to…if they want a little bit of guidance to make them think about things then I guess that’s what that’s for. But I think people should be free to interpret whatever they want.”

This same philosophy also applies to songwriting; although the band has a plethora of members onstage, it’s Pringle, Vierich, and Graham Dickson who do the songwriting. And because there are three people writing for something that is much bigger than themselves, there is room in the process for songs to change and grow beyond what they were intended to be.

“[We try to follow] the desire to just do something freely, and just go with it, and sort of think about that later almost, and just be informed by our experiences,” Vierich said. “But I guess, you know, making recordings and performing live are very different things, so it’s important to approach them differently.”

Crystal Fighters is currently playing a handful of dates in North America, before returning to Europe for festival season. Yet even though they are seemingly always on the go, playing countless shows, Vierich said that he rarely gets burnt out or doesn’t feel excited to play, and it all comes down to the fans.

“It’s just that connection that you have with people. Like having a connection with a lot of people at once. Or even now, if you think about it, there’s probably, I mean, I’ll be pessimistic, there’s at least 100 people in the world maybe now listening to one of our songs.” he said. “That’s pretty cool…that’s probably the best thing. The connection. The energy. The love.”

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