Fischerspooner: New York Retro-Electro Performance Artists
'Fischerspooner is probably the strangest band ever' - Vanity Fair
When it comes to Fischerspooner there are two prevalent views. Firstly, that they are a triumph of style over substance. Alternately, they are a triumph of substance who just happen to have a great sense of style. That said, there are those who love (or hate) Fischerspooner simply for the music and don't even stop to consider their hidden depths.
The music is blatantly electronic and manipulated to the extreme with samplers, computers and pro tools. Rarely does an entire verse of song go by without some vocal effect taking the lyrics and stretching them out into an ecstasy of robotic noise. Pulsing, eighties-style basslines prove that Giorgio Moroder was truly a genius, and that the description 'Flashdance meets Kraftwerk' isn't too far from the mark. But there's more than just the music... Vanity Fair isn't wrong when they say that Fischerspooner is probably the strangest band ever...
The Two Sides Of Fischerspooner
Fischerspooner are, at their most complex, a group of New York performance artists who combine elaborate costumes and complex choreography with retro electronic music. They are, according to Casey Spooner, an 'experiment in entertainment and all the things that entertainment entails, from image to publicity to live events...', and he and Warren Fischer are joined by an entire troupe of dancers and wardrobe personnel to produce their all-encompassing live show.
Simplifying this a little, we have the Fischerspooner that most people are familiar with. Stripped down to Casey Spooner and Warren Fischer, this version of Fischerspooner have so far produced one album, remixed Kylie's Come Into My World and made a name for themselves with the track Emerge, now remixed a myriad times, as only a band's flagship song can be.
Fischerspooner: The Performance Art Aspect
Fischerspooner have a problem with the truth. As Casey Spooner puts it, 'If there's anything you want to write, lie. It would be great to read a whole load of press cuttings that didn't resemble each other'. Which explains, quite neatly, why it's virtually impossible to pin down the members of Fischerspooner's live show: some reports list around fifteen members, others as many as twenty-five. What is clear, however, is the central core: five main members, accompanied by however many dancers, choreographers, filmmakers, photographers and graphic designers as are necessary.
Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner form the main impetus for the performance, ably assisted by Jeremiah Clancy, more often known as Peanuts. The two final members of the inner circle are Lizzy Yoder and Cindy Greene.
The Fischerspooner Five: A Little More Detail:
Warren Fischer: The son of a psychology professor and an opera diva, Warren grew up in Los Angeles and Wisconsin. He spent much of his youth performing as a violinist and, eventually, headed for the Art Institute of Chicago where, in a video arts class he ran into Casey Spooner.
Casey Spooner: Brought up in Athens, Georgia in South Carolina, Casey Spooner is a self-confessed art fag. Attending the same school as Warren Fischer, he originally started out with an experimental theatrical group, leading to a fledgling band, Table and an eventual collaboration with Warren Fischer.
Peanuts: An attendee of Marquette University, Wisconsin, Peanuts was inspired by a cassette of Fischerspooner playing live. Peanuts' main task is to assist Casey with his costume changes whilst onstage.
Lizzy Yoder / Cindy Greene: Lizzy and Cindy's tasks are very similar to Casey's. More than backup singers but not quite lead performers, Lizzy and Cindy enjoy the same attention to costume as Casey, and are an integral part of the Fischerspooner live performance.
Fischerspooner: The Retro-Electro Aspect
It is unfortunate for Fischerspooner, then, that following a couple of self-funded releases and an under-noticed release under International Deejay Gigolos, they were quickly snapped up by Ministry Of Sound and touted as pure electroclash. It worked well at the time, but even stalwarts of the scene like Miss Kittin and DJ Hell are eschewing its virtues for a more rounded, modern style of music.
Regardless, Fischerspooner's demurely titled initial album '#1' - either a logical choice of name intended to be followed by '#2' or a rather hopeful bid for a chart position - rapidly made an impression and their popularity seems to have endured beyond the brief electroclash scene. Hailed by NME as the 'best thing to happen to music since electricity', Fischerspooner have had no trouble eliciting similar responses from a whole range of journalists. The release of a successful album and a well-known single, Emerge, is an important time for any band. It was at this point, rather strangely, that Fischerspooner elected to go quiet for a while.
And so it is that Fischerspooner have, since #1's 2002 release, remained virtually silent, popping up once more in late 2002 to give Kylie the retro electronic treatment on Top Of The Pops. Recent activity (a cover of the Pink Panther theme and a mashed-up remix of Emerge on the Queer Eye For The Straight Guy soundtrack) along with the odd press release shows, however, that this time is coming to an end. With finishing touches from French producer Mirwais, Fischerspooner have collaborated with David Byrne, Susan Sontag and Tony Hoffer to produce their follow-up album. Just Let Go was released as a single, for which many fans were truly thankful, and the album Odyssey was finally released into the wild in 2005.