Speed Freaks: An Interview with CHICKS ON SPEED

“I've searched the world over, for a Euro-Trash Girl.” “Love her breasts and forget the rest.” Lyrics from "Euro Trash Girl" and "Glamour Girl" seem like lines spoken in drunken mumbles at some frat party. But they are actually a part of a giant fluorescent headband empire known as CHICKS ON SPEED.

ART, 05/11/02: INTERVIEW Three former students of Munich's School of Art in southern Germany-New Yorker Melissa Logan, Sydney, Australia's Alex Murray-Leslie, and Munich's own Kiki Morse-have invented a darling potent femme music enterprise.

It's that paranoid confluence of having an eighties flashback and catching the Chicks on Speed in concert which leaves the audience practicing cutesy weirdo dance moves all the way home, hoping around to anything with a beat. The Chicks on Speed who bring their stylish mix of music, video art and tarty venom (and cleverly unsubtle sales pitches everywhere they go.)

Originally conceived as an art installation project, COS have hair-sprayed themselves beyond academia into a seemingly unlimited statement of fashion and social criticism. But how serious are they taking this movement?

According to Melissa Logan, Euro Trash Girl is a complex narrative with a comedic storyline. “David Leurie more precisely Camper Van Bethoven's track is about a Euro bumming around guy and is totally self pitying. This wasn't written for girls to find each other, but then we had to turn the poor me ness into toughness so we would want to listen to it, so we could have a cool anthem.”

The band actually started out as a ‘fake-band’ and a merchandising project in 1997. They sell paper dresses on their Web site for $86.”

The shaking aerobics is part of the fun, although second hand smoke does deter from an actual healthy exercise, the event itself is pure visual and oral stimulus, video projections, re-enforced infomercial video art, promoting some of the wares of the COS Empire. An empire that consists of a record label, t-shirts, vinyls, bumper stickers and of course, cotton undies. “The fashion we make derives from the stage outfits, but if we find a good pattern we are likely to screenprint a batch of t-shirts for the producers, then some scarves for the web shop & the shops we sell to. We don't do seasons, we do out-fits: Birmingham, white leather, Bic Camra, Le bon marche. As for what we wear, we each have a airplane outfit, & it's not from H&M.”

It seems at worst the Chicks on Speed emulate an 80's fashion frivolity minced with the occasionally predictable early 1990's C+C music factory monotony. However, their live presence distorts all the possible musical criticism, they are so rabid with colours, movement and eclectically distorted energy you can't help but enjoy every minute of it. Wardrobe is a big part of the Chicks on Speed live shows. “I bought a washing machine last week, I made my friends come & try to bargain down the price from $220 to $200 with delivery not bad huh? And yes, when we come back from tour first thing is to get it all washed so hopefully it's dry by the time we have to pack again.”

The Chicks on Speed are as much entrepreneurs as kareoke media darlings. They have a record company, and recently put out Feminist Sweepstakes, the new album by the New York based band LE TIGRE.

Logan says the recording process doesn’t change their improvised approach to making noise. “Its still spontaneous in the studio, one is just projecting in a different way, one is not reaching to the back of the concert hall, one is reaching the listener on the other side.”

Articulating their idiosyncratic language by merging performance, graphic design and feminist/consumerist politics with the seemingly disparate sounds of early 80's New Wave/NYC, electronica, DIY punk, disco, pop and Digital Hardcore.

In 1999 the NME voted their first release single of the week, but does their fashion speak louder than their sound?

“We write a lot about marketing strategies, about commercialism, sometimes we want it to sound commercial like in Sell-Out. At the same time its a political song (it's about systems of ripping off & being ripped off).At the deep down basis of politics is freedom, & we are very conscious of freedom & sometimes the lack of it, & the respect for those who put out there necks, & revulsion to puppets & sheep, the sneechers & leachers, we know who you are.”

Will Save Us All!, released in April 2000, brings us all up to speed, and at nearly 72 minutes in length via 33 tracks, The Re-releases of the Un-releases claims the throne as the definitive Chicks on Speed document. The single"FASHION RULES" on Chicks On Speed Records was just released and a new album on the horizon. in the next few months.

For more on shows, new releases and merchandising check out the Chicks on Speed website on-line empire.

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