Chicks On Speed by Paige Wolf
Critics have had a hell of a time explaining the success of Chicks On Speed. The New York Times published an article praising the act’s productivity, while international publications have speculated on the world-altering meaning of its unique sound (mini-disc-derived electronica put to minimalist covers such as Cracker’s “Eurotrash Girl”) and bizarre shows including paper outfits and human collages.
As prophesied by the name of its first album, Chicks on Speed Will Save Us All, the self-produced, self-marketed trio—including New Yorker Melissa Logan, Munich resident Kiki Morse and Australian Alex Murray-Leslie—has big plans. The Re-Releases Of The Unreleases showcases more of the group’s clicks, buzzes, beeps and screams. Chicks On Speed even produced a web site with hopes of selling everything from homemade leather stage outfits to underwear.
Murray-Leslie took the time to reveal a bit of the mystique behind Munich’s ambitious art students-cum-rockstars and the real reason these three women call themselves Chicks On Speed.
Rockpile: Your music has been pegged with so many labels. Describe Chicks on Speed’s music in your own words.
Alex Murray-Leslie: Well, we love collecting terms journalists have given us in articles—”punk without pogo,” “hysterical disco,” “fake music,” “art or fart” and “chick music.” Actually, I think I like the term “furniture music,” a term given by Eric Satie. It’s music to appreciate your surroundings more, or to hate them.
(Editor’s note: Satie,1866-1925, was an eccentric French musician and forerunner to minimalism—also a known enemy of music critics.)
Does it offend you when the critics call COS ‘fake music?’ Yes and no.
When did COS decide to supplement art with music? It was after our box set. We invented perfect band merchandising in the form of “the box set” in ’97—a t-shirt, interview, fake record label (called No Good Records), a poster with us looking like air hostesses, a badge, a tape with “I Wanna Be A DJ Baby” and a paper record. So it was sort of obvious that the music was missing from the project.
Which instruments do COS actually play? We don’t play guitar. We play mini-disc, of course.
Do you listen to any new music? Favorite old stuff? Yoko Ono, Merzbow, Hecker, Madonna (Music only), Le Tigre, Bikini Kill, Kathleen Hannah/Julie Ruin, Pan Sonic, TG, Psychic TV, Kraftwerk (remixes for Expo), Mooner Industries, G.D. Luxxe, Adult, Le Car, Ersatz Audio, Anthony Shake Shakir, Jeff Mills, Rolando (Nights Of The Jaguar), Peaches And Gonzales, Minit, Sigma Editions, Farmers’ Manual, Hanayo, Michiko Kusaki, Mause, Fuck Head, Cylob and Aphex Twin
Your live performances have been called eclectic, to say the least. Do you think that’s how all live shows should be? Well, it’s great to see that so many people are approaching visual music in such a messy way at the moment. Everything is getting mashed together and coming out as a hell of a lot of fun. Yes, that’s a good way to approach a live concert—move with the crowds. Last week, we played in Lisbon (Numero Festival), and all of a sudden the circus tent flooded. We really had to react to the situation. This makes things live and for the moment.
You ladies seem to like the party scene. Describe your ultimate party. We played at Trash in Jerusalem (this year). First there was a small exhibition of paintings that transformed into animated music videos. Then there was an auction of S&M objects in small boxes, which were auctioned by a man from Southebys. Then Chicky, the representative from the Israeli Euro Vision contest, gave a talk about Nazism and facial hair and how to stuff vegetables. We played to a crowd of 30 people. It was wild. It was a small theater called The Habamah theater in the hills of Jerusalem. An art couple named Pil and Galia Kolektiv put on the event—unforgetable. Leaving the country we faced two bomb scares where we had to run out of the airport. We found out later they were just testing equipment.
Why do you call yourselves Chicks On Speed? We used to paint at night very quickly to make it to the art school auction the next day to sell our collages and stuff to banks in Germany. It was always a sure, quick way to make a bit of cash. They always insisted on an artist name, so we decided in a moment of haste on this. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have paid us!
What are your immediate plans for COS? To do everything.
Long-term aspirations? To build a building in Mauer Street in Berlin
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