ABOVE: CRYSTAL FIGHTERS. IMAGE COURTESY OF NEIL KRUG
Judging by the title of their sophomore release, Crystal Fighters know how to throw a party. The band—originally formed in Spain—just released their second album, Cave Rave, blending folk music and electronica with psychedelic beats. Band members Sebastian Pringle, Gilbert Vierich, Graham Dickson, Ellie Fletcher, and Nila Raja offer a fresh combination of a variety of international influences.
The folktronic band will literally be throwing a rave in a cave outside of Pamplona on August 29 to celebrate their latest record. Even if you won’t be able to attend, you can still experience the band’s cave performance with our exclusive premiere of Crystal Fighters’ video for “You & I,” which was shot in a cave in England. The acoustic version is summery and magical, bringing the band’s music to life.
We spoke with vocalist Sebastian Pringle about the band’s various cave raves, Spanish influences, and touring with Portugal. The Man.
ILANA KAPLAN: Are you guys playing a show tonight?
SEBASTIAN PRINGLE: Yeah. I’m in Lisbon, Portugal waiting to play tonight.
KAPLAN: What was it like playing your music in a cave for the video we’re premiering?
PRINGLE: It was a really interesting experience definitely. We named the record Cave Rave, and we wanted to do something special for it, so we went to this strange cave near Bristol in England. It’s a quite famous tourist attraction. It has lots of connections and tunnels. They mature cheese in the cave. They have this cheddar cheese that they’ve made for many years in these caves. We had to walk through these cheese corridors to get down to this amazing underground cave. It had a lake in it and had a beach inside. It was a very strange place to play. We set up some microphones in the middle of the night. It was pretty amazing.
KAPLAN: That’s so cool! How were the acoustics in the cave?
PRINGLE: It’s pretty boomy reverb. I think the idea of the album was many thousands of years ago cave people and people in prehistoric times went into caves to try and achieve transcendental experiences. When they chose the cave, they would choose the most acoustically relevant place to do their cave art. When they played drums or music, the music would overpower them with the echo. We tried to do the same thing. We chose a cave that had that type of resonance. It’s that natural reverb that probably gave birth to modern music and culture many, many years ago.
KAPLAN: You guys formed as a band in Spain. Are you all from Spain or are half of you guys from England and half from elsewhere?
PRINGLE: No. The main three guys are from London and one guy is from Massachusetts. The girl we discovered Basque music and culture from was Laure, who is half Spanish, and her grandfather was Basque. It was because of her grandfather’s opera that we learned more about the Basque culture. I love how that came about. We also have our drummer and two other girls, one is half Indian and one is Portuguese and English as well. It’s a mixture.
KAPLAN: You’re going to be touring with Portugal. The Man. How did you guys end up on a bill together? Do you find a lot of similar qualities in your music?
PRINGLE: The Portugal. The Man thing came about because of Atlantic, our record label in the States. We went to see them when we first got signed with Atlantic. They took us to a small gig in the basement of Webster Hall to see Portugal. The Man play. They have quite a lot of psychedelic properties. They are a great musical group. They were on this tour at the same time that we wanted to come back to the states. We got our own tour this year already in June, and our management and the label thought it would be cool to pair us up with Americans so we could reach a different type of audience while we were out there. We did a support tour with Foals in Europe, and it really helped us. It’s just a kind of natural thing for us to do. We’re quite different. We’re electronic and dance music in spirit. The more we go on with the new album, there’s definitely more folk and rock-‘n’-roll influences. We think it’s great to support a band like that.
KAPLAN: How has your music evolved since your first record?
PRINGLE: The way the two albums were produced was very different. The first album was essentially the three guys living in a warehouse in East London, living together, touring together at the same time and developing the album while playing live shows. Every week we would make dance music and dance beats. We would try to incorporate the Basque influence into our electronic-based music. It was definitely a slow process of building and making tracks. For Cave Rave, we went away to the Basque country to write melodies and tried to write from that perspective. We found that in a way more of a challenge. We were used to making things and producing them ourselves, but we knew we wanted to record as well with the producers. We went to L.A. to record. That approach was very different from before. We recorded over three months and that was it; whereas before, one or two tracks would take three months. It was much quicker and more intense. It sounded more polished, I suppose, because of the recording techniques. I think anyone who listens will definitely hear a progression in our sound.