If you're heading down to Eastern Electrics festival in London on August 4th, make sure you catch Crazy P's Saturday night headline set.
Known for hosting one of the best live dance shows in the UK, the band's legacy traces back to 1996 - when they were originally known as Crazy Penis. Time has mellowed them - slightly. Ahead of the August event, we caught up with the band to discuss the name change, the differences in today's music landscape and find out why you wont hear any autotune in their live performances...
So you've dropped the Crazy Penis moniker in the last few years, yet it seems the name is still attached to you. So it begs the question, what is a Crazy Penis and what made you choose that name?
Well, may I just say it has nothing to do with me! I am a fully fledged woman and was heavily influential in the name change… but really it came from a very innocent place. A small 7 inch (fnarr fnarr) record called ‘Loco Pinga’ was a name Jim and Chris liked, which our first record label, Paper, found out vaguely translated as Crazy Penis… and so the limp legacy began!
Obviously you have evolved as a band as time has gone on, other than the abbreviation of your name how has your sound evolved?
We have gotten older. fact! I think as you get older your tastes broaden and you appreciate the subtleties of music and production and therefore our influences have grown. Everything from folk to indie to jazz and wendy house – we are forever evolving and growing in confidence with experimentation so we hope our sound continues to change and mature with our experiences.… phew!
Over the last two years or so "live" electronic music has become a big thing, what are your views on the current trends in EDM?
You could definitely argue what is "live"… but there are lots of effects and interesting programmes and vocal processors which can add to a DJ set and personalise a set. It’s all very interesting. Whether it’s done well or not is a different matter, but that is obviously a matter of opinion. We saw Henrik Schwartz play at Motion in Bristol and his set was amazing as he really worked the dynamics of the sound and created an energy.
Do you see it as a blessing or a curse?
It’s ever-evolving, so it is how it is… we continue on our own path and evolve in our own way. Trends come and go and meanwhile we are still loving every minute of it. There’s room for everyone I think.
In the past you have been referred to as the "new school" of dance music alongside acts such as Wolf & Lamb and Jamie Jones. Do you feel you have to fight to retain that bi-line or have advanced to the state of veterans so to speak?
It’s lovely to be compared to those people but like I said before we're just happy to be making music we love still and performing live. I don’t think we categorise ourselves like that. It’s important for us to progress musically and as performers but we don’t necessarily draw comparisons. They quite often make us giggle!
Another association that has been thrown around is that you are "the best live electronic band in the world". How does that make you feel (without being modest) and what do you think it is about your live show that people find so memorable?
Erm that is quite ridiculous! We are a live band and people are often surprised at how live we are! But look at all our previous; Moloko, Goldfrapp, etc etc. They were all primarily musicians as are the lads in the band and so they have a real feel for the instruments they play and in itself that generates energy. Our music is based on life experiences so resonates with a lot of people. I also think the audience can see how much we enjoy performing – I am very lucky to have a great set of friends behind me and that propels my confidence – again which I think is passed on to the audience. We are a very lucky team.
How would you compare to say a 'live' DJ show?
It's totally different. We have many real instruments to set up, sound check and look after. Like I said earlier a lot of live DJ shows are worth their label as they work not just on other peoples tunes but sometimes their own and really get hold of the crowd’s attention. But it can’t compare to a group of people playing live instruments – it’s a different ball game. We have a "soundsystem" which could be called a live DJ set. I sing and have just started using a vocal processor which is amazing and can transform my very feminine voice into a deep male voice. Jim and Chris play keys and have samples and we all DJ… it is quite an experimental performance.
Is it important to preserve the advent of real live music in the days of autotune and miming? If so why?
Yes it is! Music doesn’t always need to be perfect and real live music is open to mistakes which is wonderful! It keeps the adrenalin alive. There’s room for the more synthetic sound of the autotune – it’s just not for us… although the lads do have a setting for me when I’m not hitting the notes in the studio. Can’t remember what they call it but it’s something like "It’s time to get Barry out" – that’s when I know I need to book my ideas up. I also think that a lot of modern commercial bands incorporate a heavy performance element which would make a lot of live singing impossible – but it’s what the masses want and have come to expect.
On the subject of live what can we expect to see incorporated into your set at Eastern Electrics?
Five very excited people! It’s a great event to be playing and a super lineup… We haven't even decided what we're doing yet. We have a lot to get through before then!
Lastly what's next in the studio?
Hopefully working on a new album once the busy period slows down. Yipee!