Chicks On Speed
by?, NME, ?, 1999
Kiki Moorse, Melissa Logan, Alex Murray-Leslie.
A beer garden, Munich, Sunday July 4, 10.30pm-ish
Kiki: When did we meet? Was it two years ago?
Melissa: Alex and I met in art school, cos we were bored with art school and I met Kiki, because we both had Japanese boyfriends, who spoke Japanese to each other. When? Two years ago. And then we started getting along better than the boys.
Alex: We met about '94, '95, because we used to do this bar called Maria Bar, and then Melissa came along one day and had all these slides and really cool things and wanted to show them; and then we stopped doing Maria Bar and then we started doing Seppi Bar, a bar where we used to just find different locations and just do a party for a night, maybe once a month or something. Just everything.
It wasn't just about music, it was more about just meeting and communication and having fun. And then the music got more important.
M: Like having Super 8 nights, stuff like that, like with different mediums just where people bring stuff, cos it was more that there just wasnt a meeting point or...
A: ... there was nothing. Munich was sort of boring.
M: And especially at art school it was very divided and there wasn't enough communication with people.
K: But then we also invited like DJs to play from different places like Vienna. That was actually how we got to meet some of our...
A + K: ... producers! Heh heh heh!
A: Gerhard Potuznik and Ramond Bayer from Mego and Tobi Neumann, who you met. He also came to Seppi Bar and then he started Djing there and the whole thing.
NME: So why are you here anyway?
A: We were here just to go to art school.
NME: From Sydney you went to Munich just to do art school? Is it a good art school?
M: They have a world-famous jeweller there.
A: It's like, I went there to do jewellery and what I learnt there, I mean it's good but I think that you don't need to stay there six years. It gets a little bit you can stay six years. But I only stayed five. Its a prestigious course, yeah.
M: I did painting. But, uh, my professor just told me to keep on painting the way I'm painting now and that's Melissa Logan painting, and I didn't want to do that. I wanted to do a lot of different things and he didn't like the things I was doing.
A: He said it was 'dilettantish'. What does that mean? I dont know, in English.
M: But it was just more of the idea that you have like this corporate identity thing that you build up around yourself; that you only produce like in one direction. The problem was it was more the audience, because you have these gallerists and also the people who buy the art, but then the problem was who are you actually making it for? And that has a lot actually to do I mean with what were doing now. Cos it's a lot closer and direct.
A: We got sort of annoyed with the whole art world and the gallery system and the system of...
NME: You should make pictures this big (hangable size) so they can fit on people's walls.
A: Yeah, but not just that, the whole position of the artist and the gallerist and the communication you get with the viewer, and then you don't reach enough people and then that's why we decided to make music
M: Cos it's not so isolated. Or elitist, actually.
NME: And when did you decide to make music?
A: A year and a half ago. Yeah.
K: Actually, we did this, um, multimedia project, called The Box Set, which was a box with a tape, a cardboard record and a t-shirt and a button and a poster and...
M: So there was all these merchandising elements of a band.
A: But there was no band. Well, there was Chicks On Speed, but we didn't really exist. No, we made a tape...
K: No, there was Go Records!
A: No, it was No Good Records. But we made a tape and the tape was like all this chopped-up stuff, collaged stuff together. We just did it with a tape recorder and a Walkman, start/stop. And it was called 'I Wanna Be A DJ Baby' and that was the start. And we did a performance as well.
M: Yeah, we did a three-minute performance, where we had our records there, but all the source, it was all coming from tapes but it sounded like we were cutting in really well, spinning really fast.
A: And then Tobi came up and said, "Hey, do you wanna make some real music?" And we said, "Yeah", and then we made 'Warm Leatherette'. Yeah.
K: And then we asked Hell if he wants to give us a track for Go Records.
A: And he gave us the first track and then we remixed his track.
M: And then Upstart came along and said, um, that we could be a sub-label instead of just doing because we were just going to press it and put it out like without having a label or just having a fake label.
NME: And then you did 'This Is For You'.
K: No, 'Warm Leatherette'.
M: And the like half a year later I did that.
A: No, because we had this concept of the ten seven-inches. And that was the beginning of Go Records.
NME: And it's still there, this concept?
A: Well, it is there, but some of the producers are starting to make tracks that don't fit on to seven-inches so then we have to make ten-inches. But it's still, yeah. But the concept always changes and grows and that's OK.
NME: And what are you trying to do then?
A: What do you mean?
M: Erm, we wanted to work with a lot of different styles of music and a lot of different people.
A: It's mainly about working with these people and the communication and what comes out of working in a group.
NME: What do you think you're doing then? Why should people listen to you?
M: They should enjoy it, I guess.
A: Have fun with it. If they want to.
M: And I think also it should be a little bit demanding. Like, and I think people also like it if, um, they are challenged. And that's why we don't wanna stay in just one genre where it gets kinda like just easy...
K: ... to swallow. We like to surprise the people.
NME: But the trouble is, when you do a thousand records only that many people can hear it.
K: That's why were doing a CD now.
A: No, in the beginning we just thought more of a hand-made sort of thing. We didn't wanna make a really massive thing.
NME: Has it got out of control?
A: No. It's never out of control. Heh heh heh!
K: Well, we never expected that so many people would buy our records.
A: Yes, we did. But it was strategy! We didn't make enough and then...
M: It also has to do with the whole supply and demand, and we wanted to reverse it, not always that records are produced for the demand, cos you know record companies are always trying to sell as many as possible. Anyway, it was just playing with the market a bit actually.
A: We wanted to do it so it looked like we made the cover and everything.
NME: But you did.
A: Yeah, I know. Heh.
M: You mean the hand-made thing.
A: The hand-made element. You know, touched. And the first one, the first single we did it didn't have a hole in it and we had to glue each label, so you had to break each. It was like a virgin, you know.
K: The first 500 copies of 'Warm Leatherette'. All hand-glued.
NME: And yet, there's still very much an art aspect to it, isn't there?
A: We see it more as though it's a project. Like we do a bar project and this label idea is a project and Chicks On Speed is project. But we do exhibitions and stuff and that doesn't necessarily have to be in an art context. Like exhibiting in Copenhagen in a project room, where they have everything from internet parties or discussion forums to DJs and installations.
NME: What did you do there?
M: We made collages and, um, exhibited them. We got them printed out really big and then put them on the walls and that was a project called Monsters which we did in, um, Marseilles, Copenhagen and, did we do it anywhere else?
A: No, were gonna do it in Cologne as well.
NME: And what's going on in New York?
A: At the Kent Gallery. Its a project where they invite a different artist to put something in a plastic bag like they send you a plastic bag and you have to fill it with what you want.
M: The show's about consumerist consuming.
A: At Christmas.
M: Because New York at Christmas is, everyone's walking around with loads of paper bags.
(Phone starts ringing.)
M: But the people who are organising this show are interesting, they just believe that art starts when you go out into the public and start doing it, actually its about more communication rather than the products themselves. And that's why it's, um, gonna be interesting working with them.
NME: So, um, what are your records about, your songs?
M: Well, we didn't want to do it like Angela Bullock.
A: Big Bottom.
M: She's a fine artist, who does stuff in galleries, like she shows this video of her or other people playing bass or making noise. It's really arty.
A: Art for art's sake. What did you think of them?
NME: They played the same night as Pan Sonic. Not with them but below them. And they did 'Smoke On The Water'. I went to get a beer.
A: No. we don't want to get in to all of that.
M: I guess it's not good to diss her but that's actually what we didn't want to do was to be artists doing music. We wanted to, um, also have, um, music that's taking seriously in the music world and not just in the art world.
A: Just to try another context. Yeah. But were not just interested in the music. We want to look at everything from a different perspective. And to analyse it and to work with the people that are in that context but to not close ourselves into one area or something.
NME: So the music thing could end?
A: Yes. We do record covers and all these graphic things and exhibitions. so its a development and we'll see what happens.
M: It's strange, because it gets you away from defining yourself as a fine artist or a musician, so you're kind of floating between that, and then you don't really have this label and it's what youre doing is what you are, this whole identity thing. It's more obscure actually. But not as clearly defined. Which is fine cos we also wanted to like, er, I dont know how you'd explain it, like redefine it, you know?
NME: I like it, because you can dance to it.
A: Yeah, that's important too. You've gotta have fun with it. Yeah.
NME: And do you take yourselves seriously?
M: Yeah, we take ourselves seriously but we have fun at it, so sometimes people think that we don't take ourselves seriously, which is also OK but...
A: Yeah, that's OK.
NME: And what are the collages about? What are you trying to do with them?
A: It depends what project we're working on. Like when we did Monsters we had, like, a topic and we wanted to decapitate people and put them back together.
K: It was about, how do you say this, man/woman image. In the beginning that was also a big idea like combining a male and female body parts.
M: Yeah, it has to do with that. Its also fun to try to create monsters because in every culture they exist.
A: Yeah. And to make people scared. Or disgusted or, yeah.
M: Also like that Wall Of Babylon they have these monsters that they build from tigers with parts of snakes, sort of like different things attached, and that was supposed to show like power, I guess, and how many of these monsters you had was the more powerful you were. Or something like that.
A: But also a big influence was that book Where The Wild Things Are, you know that. This idea, so it's all science.
NME: So can people buy this?
A: Yeah, we sold some poster in Copenhagen. They're really big, they're massive. Some of them are like three metres long by one and a half metres wide.
K: We have two left at home in a roll.
A: The others are in Copenhagen in somebody's house.
NME: So what happens now? You're clearly enjoying what youre doing with the music.
K: Yeah, we are really enjoying to do live shows now. In the beginning we had big discussions, if we should perform live at all, but now...
A: ... it's developed its own sort of direction, its like another facet of the whole thing.
NME: And people will just come to see you as a band, and have fun.
M: And I guess because were also like anti-instrument and also kinda not so into bands. I never liked seeing live bands
A: I did! I used to love going to see Nick Cave and stuff.
M: You were really into it. Yeah. So it's funny, like working together because we all have really different positions and then try to manage somehow to come together.
NME: So who does what then?
A: We all do it together, what do you mean?
NME: You can't all have the same idea?
A: No, but it gets to the point where the idea is Chicks On Speed. You filter the idea.
M: It all goes around because, um, we are actually all three like really different, so if someone has one idea, then it gets added to and added to and then it changes and whatever, it's a mish-mash.
K: But it's never that one person says OK, I have this idea, we have to do this now...
A: No. That's the beauty of it.
K: So one will say, what do you think about this?
A: And then one says "yeah" and then we do it like that, like what we wear or something.
M: Yee-air. Or else we get annoyed with it and spend a few days talking about it and fighting about it! Something comes out of it.
A: And now with this idea with the 'Glamour Girl' thing, like whether we make a video or not, or whether its a concept to do that and so this is the next project.
NME: And what are your songs about, then? No, sorry, how would you describe your music?
A: Well, it sort of started as remixing in the beginning and then we got bored of that and then we started making originals and each song has a different topic.
M: Yeah, cos we actually, when we did it first, we took the whole structure of the mainstream, of the produced band; when you're a produced band, you're produced and do playback always like live and have the concept of it, which isn't the difference between the mainstream and what we were doing, but still like play with that structure which exists in the mainstream, um, because it was so boring and we couldn't take it, or not doing playback anymore. Or whatever, at least the vocals are not playback and then we started doing more and more ourselves. It was also actually that we didn't want to do too much in the beginning.
How we'd define, though, is kinda difficult because each thing, with 'Glamour Girl', it's just a really old skool house track and...
A: But it's twisted in a way.
(Phone rings again.)
NME: So why did you do this kind of music instead of, say, guitar ballads?
M: Well, we could actually do guitar ballads. We already did Smash Metal and that had guitars in it.
A: No, but that's not guitar ballad, that's hardcore metal, sort of. No, it always depends on who we want to work with, like we ask Gerhard or Christopher Just and we go to them and say...
M: But we tried to do a ballad with Ed, don't you remember? And then he wouldn't do it with us.
A: We sent him some lyrics and he was scared of us.
M: These incredibly tacky lyrics.
A: They were brilliant, though. About a girl always ringing up this guy.
K: It was just such a cliché, it was too much maybe.
NME: So what do you sing about?
K: Well, actually 'Glamour Girl' is about this girl Roberta from Brazil, the Queen of Brazil.
NME: Who was down at Ultraschall?
A: Yeah. Amazing.
NME: But 'Eurotrash Girl' is about...
A: Oh that's a remix of someone else's song. That's written by David Lorre (?) and actually...
A: He was in Camper Van Beethoven and the Cracker.
NME: Oh, was he? What a shame.
A: You don't like him?
M: No, but he did that in Camper Van Beethoven, they did that actually. And then a band here did a cover of that, FSK they're called. John Peel really likes them, I think they're his favourite ever German band, so we actually got it from them and then we found out it was from David Lorre, later. But we just liked that Eurotrash attitude thing.
A: We had fits. Cos we're here and it's like, yea-air, what are you doing here? Heh heh heh.
M: It's also really clichéd though, a little bit poor me syndrome, like a middle class white kid in Europe, you know.
A: It's true. Like all the Australian girls that go over or something. Or American.
NME: And then other records are about?
A: 'Night Of The Pedestrian', that's like about the video game.
K: And also a dream.
M: Sylvia Plath's book.
A: It's all mixed together.
M: That's right, it was three different things that we mish-mashed together.
NME: So what's gonna happen?
A: We have these tracks coming out, no, wait, what are we doing now? B-52s remixes are coming out.
K: And we are going to finish the roll of ten.
A: Then the CD compilation is coming out on the first of November.
NME: On what label?
A: On our label, Go Records. Ha ha!
NME: But it could come out on JBO?
M: No, not so soon. Like, I don't think we'd give them, like, our album or something because that'll come out on Go.
A: I mean, yeah, we're gonna just check it out.
NME: But you're quite happy with the way things are going?
NME: Better than you thought?
All: Heh heh heh!
A: Just the way we thought!
NME: And what do you want to achieve?
A: We want to change the world.
M: That's a good answer.
A: We could talk about Stop Records. It's a tape label and the first tape was called 'Analogue Internet' and it was meant to be a tape label that goes from A to Z, and we've had one release and were going to release once a year a tape. And we invite other people always to give us material, whether its bootlegged or original or never been released before.
M: It's not all music either. Some of its just talking.
A: Yeah, like Chris Korda was on there.
M: And Anthony "Shake" Shakir.
A: He gave us a speech about rock'n'roll has got to go.
M: Yeah, he can do some good preaching, about music and the music scene and Detroit, about God and the Devil and everything, else hahahaha!
NME: You seem quite well connected.
A: Well, you just sort of meet people when you're playing in different locations and stuff, and also through Upstart and Disko B.
NME: So where can you get these tapes?
A: Oh, 'Analogue Internet'? We can get you a copy.
M: We did it really low budget. We only had one master.
A: And the master at the end of it, we didn't realise, stretched and so half of the tapes must have been really awful.
M: But it was OK, because we kind of did it raunchy from the beginning.
M: And it sounded very analogue.
A: And we stole a Pan Sonic song and just sang over the top of it and stuff.
M: Just freestyled. Heheheheh!
A: We're gonna ask the New Zealand guys to do something on Stop now. Some droning, yeah.
NME: Is Stop an internet label?
K: Analogue via internet.
A: We're tryna put stuff out on the internet.
M: Cos that's the thing with the tapes is that they're hard to distribute and it's such a pain sending them around. So the MP3 can also be good, I guess.
A: That's viral.cee.com. No, we don't know yet. Hahahaha!
M: That's a project in process still. A project in progress.
NME: And then you play the UK in September.
M: OK, so you got it all? OK!?
A: Oh maybe we should say something about Mixmob(?). We're gonna have a star on Go Records. It's this, um, young guy from the East side of Germany and he did this song called 'Genie' and were gonna... it'll be Go 4 or something and so he gave us his song and we're gonna put his song on one side and then were gonna remix it on the other side.
M: Just one disc. But that'll be like one two three.
A: It goes ten to one. Five and six are coming out in four weeks.
M: And then this guy will be four; this guy she was talking about.
Is this enough?
Copyright © 1999 NME. Reprinted with permission.