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.
NATHANIEL G. MOORE
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.)
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
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.”
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.
on shows, new releases and merchandising check out the Chicks on Speed
website on-line empire.
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