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Legendary New York-based electroclash duo and artistic collective Fischerspooner is set to release Sir, their fifth full-length, which has counted with the contribution of Michael Stipe from R.E.M and Beyoncé’s producer Boots – on February 16. We’ve had an intimate and fun conversation with Casey Spooner, who is experiencing a beautiful artistic phase – a tumultuous period that has made him decide to move to Paris.

This new album comes to life in the midst of a rather conservative-oriented international political and hectic social scenario. Sir is, first and foremost, a celebration of love, life and freedom. But it is full of dichotomies since the songs go from joy and celebration to despair and heartbreak. Very aware of – and actually enjoying – the times we live in, Casey Spooner and Warren Fischer have made an album that explore the differences (if any) between public and personal space and intimacy, reflecting on the boundaries that have been reshaped because of social media (as an example, one of the songs contains a real recording of Casey having sex).

But also, Sir raises a voice for those communities who’ve been historically mistreated by people in positions of power – women, Afro-Americans, LGBTQ+, Native Americans, etc. – and celebrates queerness as a political statement against the status quo. After having had an exhibition at Vienna’s Mumok – composed of sound, photography, and film – titled as the album, and also after having performed in New York City, they are now releasing the much-awaited album and planning a world tour for the months to come. And if seeing them live is already good news, here’s a better one: if you’re a dancer, you might end up joining them onstage. How? Read the interview, and you’ll find out.

I barely remember that night Casey, but we actually met around 2005 in Malaga, in the south of Spain. Fischerspooner played at a festival there and its manager took us to a flamenco show right after the gig in the midst of the night.
Oh gosh, I remember that night!
You were wearing some sort of El Zorro-style cape by Y-3.
I remember, I think that was actually in 2007, it was after Odyssey. I am not sure. Warren and I got on the stage dancing flamenco. I remember all of it (laughs).
I follow you on Instagram and saw that you’ve spent some time in Paris. Did you just move there?
Yes, I just moved to Paris.

“For the past seven to ten years I’ve been going through my own sort of sexual revolution, which I think is also a reflection of culture at large.”
Wow, how come?
It was kind of an accident. I came for two days and I just felt like living there. So I stayed and called to pack up my stuff, put everything in storage, left my apartment and found a room. And I’m so happy here!
That’s amazing. Actually, I’ve seen you’ve been pretty active there doing some fashion shows. Was it menswear?
I did men’s in Milan, and men’s and couture in Paris.
What is your relationhip with the fashion world?
I love clothes, I always like to dress up. It also happened very accidentally. I did this show in Milan because my friend Julie Ragolia contacted me at the beginning of the year. She was styling a presentation and said, “come to Milan and see the show”, and I was like “sure!” I went there and they dressed me. Then, from this show on, I started hanging out with Violet Chachki and then Prada called, and after that, everybody started calling. Violet and I were having fun by getting dressed up and going to shows.
Now let’s move to the main thing. You’re about to launch your fourth studio length, Sir. It’s been a long time since your debut album, things have changed a lot, we are older, and the music industry works differently. What does this record mean to you at this point?
I don’t know, it means a lot. It’s a kind of a document of a time now because I’ve been working on it for so long – I stared in January 2013 and, basically, five years later from where I stared, it couldn’t be more different. It is this kind of crazy document of my life changing.

Actually, your latest album, Entertainment, was launched in 2009. It’s been quite a long time now. Why has it taken those many years? Why now?
I’ve never stopped working. I thought this record would get done a lot sooner as well. I actually worked for two years when we released Entertainment in 2009, so I was busy in 2010 and 2011. Also, I released my solo record in 2010, so I didn’t work in music for maybe only one year (2012). But I do a lot of other things, creatively-wise: I did photography, I made a feature film, I did a web series interviewing people related to creativity, I made a book – as I said, I never stop working.
I wish the record had come out sooner. When I started working on this record I said that I didn’t want to be working on it for two years. And, of course, I ended up working on it for four (laughs). You see, sometimes ideas keep getting better and better and things take more time than you’d expect – and that’s ok. But I’m hoping the next record doesn’t come out in 2029 (laughs). I’d like the next one to go a little bit faster.
This is the first Fischerspooner record working with Michael Stipe and Boots. As far as I know, you have a relationship with Michael, right?
Michael is an old friend; we’ve known each other since 1988.
How has this affected the creative process? I think the band never worked like this before.
Oh yes, definitely. Michael has had a huge influence. He came in to work as a friend, first. I was working on the record and thought I was done, and when I was on my last song I asked him to come in and help me on another track. When we started working on it, he started giving me feedback on lots of other songs. We worked together a little bit and we had a great time, so we thought we should keep going and maybe he should take on a more formal role. Warren suggested asking him to be the producer. The first thing Michael said was “no, I’m not working in music. I’m just doing this as a friend, I don’t want to get involved.” But then I think he decided it would be fun and a good idea.
The thing is, I had decided that I wanted to make records about queerness – that was a very clear theme from the beginning. And I guess he decided this would be fun. This is the first time I work with a producer who is also a performer and a songwriter. A lot of producers I tend to work with are performers but they tend to be more on the technical side; they would come more from electronics and programming; more about the sonic side rather than performance and songwriting.

“I feel the most important thing I can do as an artist is to be as outspoken as possible about queerness, acceptance, and tolerance.”
Because you wrote all the songs, as I understand?
Yes, I did. I wrote them together with Michael (Stipe) and Andy LeMaster.
Did you get into technical stuff yourself too?
No, no, I’m not a programmer. Warren (Fischer) is the one who does that. Michael Stipe and I are more performers, songwriters and vocalists. And then, a lot of the other people with whom we work, from Andy and Warren to Michael Cheever, do the programming.
Actually, I wanted to ask you about Warren. Did he get involved in Sir from scratch? I’m asking this because I’ve seen he’s been writing scores and producing films. Did he move to Los Angeles?
Absolutely. He’s always wanted to work more in film – although he is a commercial director, so he had already worked in it.
In one of the songs, you included a sound recording of you moaning while having sex with a guy in Madrid. Could you tell us more about it?
It is the last minute of Mister A’s remix of Have Fun Tonight. I wanted to do kind of a version of Donna Summer’s Love To Love You Baby. We had been working on the remix and the (first) producer had tried to put in sexy sounds – he recorded himself but it sounded kind of hokey. Then they had an actor come in and it sounded a little bit better, but it still sounded metronomic. While we were working on the remix I happened to be in Madrid during World Pride and I just happened to be having sex with a friend of mine. And I said, “you know what, do you mind I record it? Because I really need the sound for a remix”.

The videos for Have Fun Tonight and Top Brazil are statements of sexual, social and expression freedom of the LGBTQ+ community. You grew up when AIDS/HIV became the most feared thing within the community so your sexuality was kind of trapped in that fear. Now, thanks to all the medical, technological and educational research and advances, I feel like you’re having a wilder, more careless and freer sexual life. And we can see that both in the videos and in the songs.
Yes, for the past seven to ten years I’ve been going through my own sort of sexual revolution, which I think is also a reflection of culture at large. All of a sudden, because of digital culture, everyone has access to sex and pornography, so there’s a sexual expansion happening in general.

In that sense, what is the importance of sexuality – whether or not explicit – in Sir
In general, one of the things I am doing is trying to combine emotion with explicit sexuality. A lot of times you see something sexual and try to jump away from anything emotional or romantic, especially if it is gay sex. The idea is to create a world where emotion and sex can exist simultaneously.
Probably triggered by the current United States administration, we live in a cultural moment of resistance and resilience: from the abuses to the Native American community, to the LGBTQ+ one, to the fight for women’s equality, the #Metoo and #Timesup movements, the bigotry, the racism, etc. As an artist, what is your take or position within such scenario?
Politically, I think it is very important to be very queer right now, to be very flamboyant about it; there’s so much Nazi conservatism in the United States at the moment. I think we are living in very dangerous times. We have a very mentally unstable person in a great position of power and it is a threat to a lot of people’s basic civil rights. I think it is shocking that someone that can be as corrupt and morally questionable can be in such a position – someone who can openly harass women, literally saying things like “grab them by the pussy”. The fact that this is somehow acceptable and people can turn away from it is unreal and horrifying.
I feel the most important thing I can do is to be as outspoken as possible about queerness, acceptance, and tolerance. Also, I have to try to convince the people around me – the art conservatives that have supported Trump – that this is a mistake and that they have to change their position. I have to protect people around me who are more vulnerable: people of colour, trans, etc. I need to try to create a safe place for them.
That’s really good. We have to use all the power we have together to create such tolerance.
For me, the point of working in pop music and pop culture is to be able to say something that may resonate to someone living not in Paris or in New York City; people who don’t feel safe or connected but instead they feel lost and vulnerable. I want to say that there are others like you, you are going to be fine. I come from a small town, from a conservative community; so if I can survive, you can too.
After listening to the record, even though it has an overall partygoer vibe, I felt like Everything is Just Alright connects the most to Fischerspooner’s legacy.
I think sonically it has that kind of… [Casey hums the intro bass] It has that kind of driving quality that is very Warren.

“For me, the point of working in pop music and pop culture is to be able to say something that may resonate to someone living not in Paris or in New York City; people who don’t feel safe or connected but instead they feel lost and vulnerable.”
You did a first gig with your new set at Brooklyn Steel. How did it go?
Oh, it went amazing. It was our first big New York show. We designed the performance and we are ready to go on tour. We are scheduling summer shows now.
There were many performances and dancers onstage that night. How will you be able to move all of them worldwide? Or will you adapt the show accordingly?
I’m not sure. When we perform in New York it’s easy because you don’t have to make everyone travel. I think that what I’m going to do – which can actually be fun and interesting – is a local casting wherever I travel, so different people in every community can come on stage and dance on the show. That’s a way to bring in dancers and local performers, a way to connect with each community and each city.
That’s a wonderful idea, just like they do with big orchestras, when they use local musicians instead of touring with the whole set.
Exactly. And selfishly, I’ll get to meet all the hot dancers.
I have always understood Fischerspooner as a collective of interdisciplinary artists rather than just a music band. In fact, you have recently held an exhibition at Vienna’s Mumok, titled Sir as well. Could you tell us more about it?
The Vienna piece was a sound, film and photography installation. The photos were a series I shot together with a friend of mine, Yuki James. They were taken in my apartment with a wide cast of characters: different lovers, co-workers, friends, etc. It was kind of a portrait of a social family. Then, in the middle of the room, there was a film and dance piece we did between Juan Pablo Real and me. It was a video sculpture about twenty-seven minutes long, single-take, slow-motion dance with a soundscape audio – which was actually the song Togetherness. The whole exhibition was very tied to the material of the song’s music video, like an extension of it.

Are you planning to do this somewhere else?
We have another exhibition coming up in a museum: NAK (Neuer Aachener Kunstverein) in Aachen (Germany).
Is it the same footage?
No, it’s going to be a new idea. A totally new exhibition.
Anything else? Something secret you’d like to tell us?
What do you mean, are you kidding? I have already too much to do! You are asking me to come up with something else when I have a museum show, I’m releasing a record, I am making a music video for every song, I moved to Paris, I’m launching a clothing line, and a fragrance. And we are going to tour the world. What else you want me to do? Oh, but you know what? My secret project is that I want to make a TV show with Violet Chachki. That is the non-secret project I haven’t done yet.
There we go (laughs).
And you know what else? I’m very excited because I will get to work with Paco Leon in Spain. He is going to appear in a music video we’ll shoot in Madrid for Stranger Strange. I’m ready to move there, work with Paco and have an affair. I love Madrid.
The album Sir by Fischerspooner will be released worldwide on Friday, the 16th of February.

Víctor Moreno
Rinalto Sada

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