Edge

Pop Rocks with Coke: An Interview with Fischerspooner

Warren Fischer of Fischerspooner dishes on Madonna and Miami’s “high culture concentration camp”

Let’s face it. Most pop music is ridiculously bubblegum and fake – the lip-synching, the lack of live instrumentation, the cheesy choreography, all of those backup singers. But the world wants, arguably needs, pop stars who are bigger than life, who live to schmooze with celebrities at New York parties for Paper magazine, and offer their product to the month’s choice club DJs. Enter modern pop artists Fischerspooner, and their stellar musical contribution to pop art, #1.
Staging an experimental bout of shattered electro theatre five years ago at a Starbucks in Astor Place, New York, former art students Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner (alongside a loose ensemble of 20 dancers, stylists, vocalists and sex kittens) have since lived to see-and-be-seen. Quickly impressing and networking with distinguished players in the New York art world, most notably Gavin Brown and Jeffrey Deitch, Fischerspooner’s live performances continue to grow thematically and theatrically, utilizing freaky costumes, kilos of glitter and confetti, sexuality, crowd interaction, and yes, the “press play” button. The duo makes no qualms about their thirst for success and entertainment – just see their tongue-in-cheek album title. It’s this charismatic gusto, alongside the peak of electroclash, and #1’s dance floor vocoder jams like “L.A. Song,” “Emerge” and “Natural Disaster,” that have escorted FS from three-day stints at Deitch Projects to the BBC’s “Top of the Pops” twice (including Casey’s shimmy with Kylie Minogue) to this month’s Coachella festival in Cali.
See, pop stars can be mega and avant-garde. Warren Fischer, responsible for FS’ beats and songwriting, took a brief break from pondering ways to spend a much-publicized million-dollar advance to chat with Life & Art about dreams, Madonna and the quest for world domination.

Q: You and Casey live pretty lavish and publicized lives. When you find time to sleep, do your dreams differ at all from reality?
FS: (laughs) That’s one of the better questions I’ve ever been asked. Yeah, the dream-fantasy day-life just sort of melds perfectly with our dream-fantasy sleep-life. It’s just a constant state of ecstasy.

Q: Have any of the ideas or concepts for your live shows been inspired by dreams, where you wake up and write something down?
FS: I feel like there are themes Casey and I have discussed that have triggered things, but nothing’s ever been lifted entirely from a dream.

Q: Most electro coming out now basks in the moment, and your live performances are known for their spontaneity. During the conception and recording process for #1, were you concerned with how the music might sound five years from now?
FS: Not really. When you’re writing music you tend to think that it’s going to be played the week after it’s done, and then you slowly realize that you have to release it first, and then you put out the single and suddenly it’s half-a-year later. As long as people are interested you keep riding it. So, I make a track and expect the whole thing to blow over in a month, but it actually lasts for five years.

Q: Would you agree that Fischerspooner is an art piece constantly changing with and reflecting the times?
FS: Yeah. I think that Casey and I are coming at this from a different direction than, let’s say the people who put together *NSYNC. So we approach it differently and make our own decisions, so it ends up being weirder, even though *NSYNC is pretty fucking weird if you sit back and think about them. (laughs) We’re not really tailored to the now, but many people seem to think it’s a poignant and timely commentary. It’s not like we said, “Let’s wait until the year 2000, go,” but people seem to think it’s relevant.

Q: Has Casey’s tongue (on the cover of #1) reveled in its own celebrity since the release of #1?
FS: Well…(laughs) another good question. Let’s just say Casey’s tongue has had its fair share of exchanges with the public.

Q: How do you plan on maintaining the levels of unpredictability and interaction you’re famous for at Deitch Projects as the tour venues grow larger?
FS: The staging is different and the audience is different. One thing I like to tell people is that there’s no ideal show. For example, at Deitch Projects we designed the show there for a few nights and it’ll never happen again exactly like that. We’ve done down ‘n’ dirty European tours with four people and ones where Casey ran around on stage with Spanish crowds throwing their shoes and socks, which are just as incredible.

Q: Have you guys ever considered stopping in the South and playing a coffee shop there?
FS: Oh what, and get our asses kicked? (laughs) We’ll play places like Atlanta though. It’s not “the South” south, but we did a show in Miami at this art collector’s house (see inside album cover), and we built a stage over his pool with these towers that reflected light spots onto the crowd. It became this sort of weird high culture concentration camp – the audience was 40-and-up and drinking cocktails. All of the performers jumped in the pool and did “Emerge” soaking wet…legendary.

Q: Who are your predictions for the best designers and bands of the summer?
FS: I’d put my money on, if not summer the fall, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ next record is going to be huge. The new Rapture record is really hot. It’s amazing the shit going on in New York right now. For a minute, it was just the Strokes and us, but now you can’t even fucking count. It’s amazing. For fashion, my money’s on Rachel Comey. She’s doing some wardrobe for us this summer, makes really great clothes.

Q: What do you make of Fischerspooner’s oft-comparisons to Andy Warhol and Devo?
FS: Andy Warhol yes. Devo, yeah a little bit, sure. We try to be a little bit more global the way Warhol was. The distinction I make between us and Andy Warhol is that he founded his career on the idea of taking pop culture and putting it in the gallery, and we try to take gallery and experimental ideas and put them into pop culture. It’s a similar impulse in the opposite direction.

Q: Have you guys talked with Madonna about doing a track together?
FS: Her management was trying to sign us up and there was talk of collaboration at one point, but we decided to go with someone else. So since then, her management company has dissed us out of sheer jealousy and rage. There’s been a communication breakdown with Madonna. Some people can’t separate business and personal life. I’m sure Madonna doesn’t have a problem. Here’s the real story: Madonna wanted us to do a remix and her manager killed it out of spite.

Q: What does the future hold for Fischerspooner?
FS: We plan on making a few videos for bands through our holding company, FS Studios. We basically aspire for world domination every chance we get.

For more info, visit www.fischerspooner.com.

Hunter Stephenson can be reached at HurricaneAccent@hotmail.com.

April 15, 2003

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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