Interview: Txistus, Tabors and Txalapartas at the Ready, Crystal Fighters.

Basque sounds-via-Hackney, the greatest band to emerge out of the muddied lands of the unsigned with the Crystal prefix (in Dots & Dashes' humble opinion) and connoisseurs of a resonant Txalaparta, three renegade fighters battling away for genre autonomy will wash up on your shores shortly. Probably before you've even got time to pledge your allegiance to whichever strand of conservative dance/ house/ rave/ world/ indie monotony (delete as appropriate) currently dictating your daily aural intake. Crystal Fighters are, figuratively speaking, about as roasting right about now as a one-way voyage into the blustering gusts of the sun's surface sailing in the heart of an AGA.

Debut LP, Star Of Love is scheduled for release on the 13th September, with forthcoming single and flimsy summer anthem devourer In The Summer crash-landing from the 'Fighters' parallel Solar System on 5th July. Sign your inbox away and get it free, below, now. It goes a little something like this...

Crystal Fighters - 'In The Summer' Single by Sainted PR

Having clinched Dots & Dashes' Track of 2009 with Xtatic Truth, they'll doubtlessly scale such great heights once again come December, following a hefty summer schedule that whistle-stops at Glastonbury, Bestival, and V Festivals. They already played Camden Crawl and Brighton's Great Escape. If you missed them (they played twice at Camden Crawl so there's no real excuse there...) they'll be firing up for this weekend's Isle Of Wight Festival possibly whilst you skim-read this garbled jargon. 2ramp caught up with Sebastian, Gilbert and Graham on behalf of Dots & Dashes in the summertime shades of Rome to talk Xtatic Truthes, thriving Basque mystery and lost opera...

Dots: Basque heritage and influence, a strong founding force behind Crystal Fighters. Has that initial concept stretched beyond the preliminary constraints you'd have expected, becoming more of your identity than you'd have originally considered? And how has nationalistic confusion affected your rise out of the online abyss?

Graham: Initially, the Basque twangs stemmed merely from an infatuation with the culture, predominantly musically although the eerie mythology that comes with it being recognised as one of the first cultures in the world sucked us in deeper. Then obviously as things progressed, we came across more and more people from the Basque country, we've now played there, and at times we've actually been accepted into it so it's certainly become more than merely our appreciation for it, almost as if we're doing something simultaneously for and with the Basque country.

Gilbert: That said, we do go places and have people say to us "oh, we thought you were from Navarra because on your Myspace it says you're from Navarra" but the point of that is the spiritual home of what we're doing is in Navarra. The book is from that region, we're influenced by that region, and everything for us has essentially stemmed from that region. We say it because that's where the idea exists.

Graham: There's no confusion over our true nationalities; we're from where we're from obviously. But we're now doing something that is inspired by a different culture and nationality and we've embraced that.

Dashes: At some of your earlier shows it was reported you'd speak in a broken Spanglish, presumably to throw your audience off the scent. Was the intention originally to get away with being a genetically Basque band and do you think the intrigue generated from that aided you in your quest for exposure?

Graham: You have to refer to the opera to answer those sorts of questions, as that served as the purest of inspirations for our initial shows. We had signs, characters and so said characters were actually speaking in the English tongue of the place of the opera's setting. They played a role.

Sebastian: With our early shows, we'd only just received the opera, well, the notebook which contained a fractured opera so we were really excited about that and we spoke in all sorts of accents to attempt to portray the content of the libretto.

Dots: A sense of mystery can add an enigmatic quality, generating a whole shed-load of intrigue so perhaps people not being entirely sure of your origins propelled you along...

Gilbert: But the band's culture itself is extremely mysterious. Even in our research and interest in this foreign culture, there's still a myriad of facts we don't yet know or understand so part of that mystery is that we're trying to emanate elements of the unknown, transporting this vibe around the world, sharing this thriving sense of mystery.

Dashes: Do you feel as though this mystery's been a highly central aspect to Crystal Fighters as a band?

Graham: The mystery's definitely played a large role in our progress during this project, but then that doesn't inherently have to do with us as a band. A load of acts use mystery...

Gilbert: Then I suppose it depends on what you're referring to when batting the word "mystery" about... From our perspective, our mystery comes from the initial confusion often experienced as to exactly what we're doing, and for people that know what we're up to, asking precisely why we're doing it. And then even to those that understand why, we hope to shock them with the new material, remixes and mixtapes we put out there, hoping to further that emotion that we instill.

Dots: On the theme of mystery, the actual makeup of the band has been something of a mystery to onlookers. Has that been something you've wanted to keep flexible and interesting throughout, what with line ups changing radically and the uncertainties as to who you'll be seeing on stage at a Crystal Fighters show? And have you had time to envisage how the band will shape up, at least aesthetically, in the future?

Gilbert: Of course we enjoy the music we make, but there's a massive part of us that wants others to enjoy it so when playing live, we try and imagine what will best connect with our audience and what will portray us in the best possible way so in the past, when playing a certain type of show, it was a case of putting across our more theatrical side. Then when we were performing with the girls, we were playing particularly stages last summer and we thought that's what people wanted and since then, we've been performing without the girls. They're still on the record, but we've opted for a harder live approach; since the end of last year we've been playing in small clubs and now we're slowly moving back onto the stages for the summer but we want to bring to the people the best possible shows we can, that render the idea as clearly as possible and at the moment, we're performing as a trio to achieve just that.

Graham: I think a key point that Gilbert's missing is that we three boys have been the backbone of the project since the beginning. We've had Laure bring us the main inspiration, the book, to the three of us and we developed this thing and she and Mimi became this fundamental part of Crystal Fighters so it's become this collective, where people drift in and out, making it more than merely about the girl singer, the guy singer, whatever.

Gilbert: We're willing to work with whoever, wherever our influences take us. We can't pin ourselves down...

Dashes: Talking of your live shows, do you think they've played a part in shaping your current sound?

Gilbert: Totally. We try to be innovative live, doing certain things entirely differently to how they come across on record.

Graham: The live sound was our original sound, and now the record has developed from our live act.

Gilbert: I mean with the live stuff, a lot of people say it's maybe harder than the material we've released thus far. We tend to see what works live and what works on record as two mutually exclusive, totally different things. It's quite cool having people come along to see us having heard us online and then being thrust into this high-octane environment, incurred through the energy rustled up by our live show. But we like to think of ourselves primarily as a live band; we've written an album which is almost finished that'll be out later this year in September, we're already excited about that. But originally, we were a live band. We love bringing our vibe to people, playing to people and there's nothing more rewarding in the musical realm than getting out onto whichever stage we can.

Sebastian: Also we've written a fair old chunk of our material during the week, before a show, putting down a beat before singing a lyric over the top that accidentally works so with the music and lyrics, bits and pieces fell together automatically almost.

Dots: You've been busy boys over the past year, touring incessantly, festivals looming on the horizon. Has squeezing in time to lay down the album been a little tricky at times?

Gilbert: No, it's been positive predominantly! Playing around the world, traveling really gives us inspiration, on top of our other inspirations, to write stuff but of course you have to find an equilibrium so at the end of last year/ beginning of this year we had to take a break from the live circuit just to finish off recordings. But it's amazing being able to travel, for example, to the Basque country as that gave us great experience that we'll certainly take a lot from.

Dashes: Looking down the remix list for I Love London, an infinite spectrum of genres is covered and you definitely fit in with a group of London acts currently picking the best bits from a plethora of scenes. Have there been any live acts or shows seen on your travels that have really impressed and had a substantial musical impact on you as a band?

Sebastian: Well we're lucky to be shoved on bills with live bands and often these days with dance subgenres being so commercially viable, we luckily get shoved on the bigger stages with the dancier acts too so we play with people like Zombie Nation, Rusko and Digital Mystikz amongst other techno artists, dubstep artists...

Gilbert: And that definitely influences our production side, showing us how to rock things up whilst remaining true to our dance roots.

Sebastian: We used to be big fans of Selfish Cunt. In the beginning they were a big inspiration for us, as a live band doing that punk thing.

Gilbert: We get booked a lot of the time as a club act which helps, as we get to play alongside other acts that are doing something really direct. I think when DJs play dance tracks everything's quite direct. It's not like an indie band playing out some song or other and finally getting to the bit were it breaks out a little more... We like to take influence from both sides of the coin but take London for instance. People go and watch bands, everyone stands there, no one dances. They see the band amidst this spectacle, and then go home again. Conversely, people go to clubs, often they can't even see the DJ, the musical experience is far smaller as the guy's just playing records, yet absolutely everyone bops along, having an amazing time. So trying to bring that enjoyment value without worrying about pretensions and tacking it onto the greatest aspects of live music is really what we're trying to get at.

Dots: And finally, what have the most Xtatic Truthes been that you've learned over the past year or so?

Sebastian: I was wrong to sing that we were born to be alone, as I've been with these two for so long. Possibly too long...