Interview with Fischerspooner: electroclash, live shows and Entertainment

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Appeared as 'Fischerspooner’ (Time Out Singapore May 2009)

Alexis Ong finds out how the electroclash duo, Fischerspooner, and their multi-talented posse turned fiscal troubles into creative gold

First published on 6 Aug 2009.

Tell me about your new album, Entertainment. It’s been four years since Odyssey.

Gosh, where to start. It was challenging because we started trying to make Entertainment with EMI, and the music business was in crisis. Everyone was braced for job losses, and within a year every single person we worked with at Capitol [Records] was laid off and the building was sold. The site of this legendary American label – once home to Frank Sinatra and all these classic performers – was turned into a condo.

That’s horrible.

Yeah. Meanwhile I was really frustrated with Odyssey because we weren’t able to tour as extensively as I’d hoped to. Those two years spent recording were the longest we’d not been on stage in 15 years – we’d created a new body of work and only got to perform for three months.

Speaking of challenges, Entertainment is your first selfreleased album. Are you planning on going back to a label?

We work better on our own creatively. We never had any issue with EMI – we always had creative control and they trusted us. But on a big label it was difficult for us to play around. Things are done very specifically in the music business, and it is very much a business. The system didn’t work for us creatively. Now I feel like we can generate our own material on our own terms, give it to someone to market and distribute, and we’re okay. Really all labels do is front you money. They’re like a bad bank loan.

'Well, you better tell somebody to call somebody and make it happen. I want to be big in Singapore.'

Are you guys doing a digital and physical release, then?

Entertainment will be out on iTunes as well as a physical format. The internet is the way we built our audience – our project boomed with Napster. Before that we were an underground performance-art project. But we still need people to buy records – investors look at those numbers to determine how much to invest in you. In reality we’re successful, but on paper we’re a disaster because our audience downloads everything.

Good thing you’re going on tour soon, then. Are you excited?

Yes! It’s gonna be everywhere, but we’re still securing European dates. We haven’t been out in the US properly since maybe 2004. It’s been way too long. We’re in discussions about maybe doing Japan in September and Australia in October.

You should swing by this way, then. We’re sort of in between.

Well, you better tell somebody to call somebody and make it happen. I want to be big in Singapore.

Interview with Fischerspooner: electroclash, live shows and Entertainment
Entertainment by Fischerspooner

Fischerspooner is made up of many different people – how do you keep track of who’s in the band?

It’s always been a revolving team, but with a core group. It really depends on the idea and our resources. New York has a big creative community – everyone’s always working in different projects, so it’s not uncommon for someone to step in, then go away and do something else.

Fischerspooner is known for its amazing live shows. Recently, big names like Kanye and Kylie had to abandon their special effects on tour stops here. Are you going to pare yours down?

Well, the economic crisis means we’re having to tailor the show to work with minimal resources – but something about it is liberating. Sometimes limitations help us do the best creative work because it gives you something to work against. We’re having to be a bit more thoughtful, trying to make something powerful. Instead of ignoring everything that’s happening, it’s more exciting to acknowledge it.

Well said. What about your incredible outfits?

We’re really lucky because we have a lot of fans in fashion. Gareth Pugh has a piece he made for me that I’m still wearing, and we have some clothes from Calvin Klein. Image is a big part of the project. Music sounds better when we look cool.

Time Out Singapore reviews Fischerspooner’s album Entertainment.

The group

Interview with Fischerspooner: electroclash, live shows and Entertainment

Fischerspooner (website) is an electroclash and performance troupe that was formed in 1998 in New York. Their latest album Entertainment, released in 2009, is the group's third.

Read Time Out Singapore’s review of Entertainment

By Alexis Ong
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