Five-piece disco live specialists Crazy P’s new album showcases a maturity that is still keeping them streaks ahead of the game.
Crazy P have grown up a bit. To be fair, coming from an act that used to call itself Crazy Penis, the first step was probably staring them right in the face. But this only tells half the story.
Having always been purveyors of fine party-starting vocal disco and house crossover, Crazy P’s five-piece sound has, especially in the live arena, seen them one-step ahead of the game in terms of performance and credibility within dance music circles. When We On is their fifth album and is wholly reflective of a longevity characterised by a high level of quality, the ilk of which is not always prevelent within live dance music acts.
2011 sees Crazy P more relevant than ever. The popularity of all things groove, house and disco-orientated has skyrocketed in the last two years with Crazy P’s infectious sound becoming that little bit more sharpened on the ears of music aficionados everywhere. Their prolific remix output for the likes of Empire Of The Sun, Hot Creations and Greg Paulus on Wolf + Lamb has reinforced their position at the front line of anything with a groove, and as the latest record’s infectious opening gambit, We’re Open For Service, rang out in Crack Towers for the first time we needed no more convincing.
A mature change in direction sees multi-instrumental space-disco numbers such as the mouth-watering Heartbreaker run alongside the aforementioned vocally dominated Open For Service and the superb Eruption. In an age where disco edits are ten-a-penny, Heartbreakerespecially is a discerning groove that really makes you sit up and pay attention.
With a brand spanking new live show set to descend on, among other places, the In:Motion Futureboogie and RBMA party in Bristol, the Crazy P live experience allows the band’s female focal force, Danielle Moore, to take centre stage. Moore’s exuberance provides the kind of glitz and dramatics any discerning disco act working their camp/homoerotic magic should have at their disposal.
Crack spoke to founding member, multi-instrumentalist and production engine behind Crazy P, Jim Baron, about their forthcoming live shows and the new record.
Having listened to When We On, we thought you’d gone for a darker more seductive sound in contrast to a previously upbeat style?
I’m guessing it’s not quite as straightforwardly funky as previous records. There isn’t much of that in it at all. It’s definitely a product of getting a bit older and your pace changing a little bit. As a band, if you’re working with people all the time you want to change it a bit instead of resting on your laurels. So there are a number of reasons why the record turned out like that, but it’s definitely a bit more evocative and thoughtful than previous Crazy P records.
Is that just a straight reflection of the band’s age?
It’s numerous factors. A few things happened last year that gave us a bit of a shock. There were some health issues that bring you back down to earth and that probably shaped the record too.
There is some brilliant variation on When We On, ranging from some great vocal moments to some spacey disco moments.
I think that’s us really. We listen to lots of different stuff. I think when we kicked off years ago we used to keep albums quite straight, but as time has gone on we’ve felt more confident to show off other sides to our character.
In terms of the vocals on the record, does Danielle write her own vocals after the melody or is it more of a collective effort?
Tracks start with a fixed idea of what I want to do. I might have a backing track lying around that we could use, or it might just be a sit down and jam situation. Dan is great at working really quickly and writing really fast. She gets melodies very quickly and the words just seem to follow. She’s great and we’re very lucky as the ideas get together very quickly.
She’s also a big personality and adds a huge amount to your live performance, maybe more so than other bands of a similar ilk.
Basically, we just wind her up and let her go. She is the obvious focal point and aside from being a brilliant singer and dancer, she thinks about her stage craft very carefully. She thinks about what she wears very carefully and she thinks about her performance very carefully. As well as all that she’s really warm-hearted and down to earth and I think that shines through.
We certainly remember seeing you at Bestival a couple of years ago and being really blown away by the whole energy of your performance. How has the live show developed over time and do you think that now you’ve got five albums of material at your disposal your live act has become quite pliable, with a certain amount of rotation between vocal numbers and big instrumental numbers?
Yeah, definitely. You’ve got to go with the record you’ve made and we’ll obviously be showcasing that a lot live. For that reason we are re-structuring a few things. Having said that, the set-up remains kind of the same and first and foremost we’ll be looking at what works for the crowd. There are tunes on the album, such as Heartbreaker, that are effectively instrumentals and we try and work them into the set because it allows Danielle a costume change. We don’t tend to take textures and arrangements off the album verbatim. We try to mix them up and make them more edgy.
In terms of the production side of things you’ve been very prolific with remixes over the years. Is that all your work?
That’s me and Chris, yeah.
And is it nice for you to duck into that purely dancefloor-orientated world and create music that’s a little bit more tailored to the nightclub?
We love doing remixes as they are great fun, especially if you have great source material to work with. We’ve been doing them since we started and it’s a completely different way of working. We tried to count up how many we’d done the other day and we couldn’t do it. It’s a frightening amount. You attack each remix differently and I like to think we give a different angle to each one we do. It also gives you a whole load of ammo when you DJ.
Do you find remixing records also hones or finetunes your production skills when it comes to making original Crazy P material?
Each experience you have in the studio adds to what you know when you go back in there the next day, so I suppose so. That works in respect of other production jobs as well, so you take a bit from everything you learn.
What have you been up to this summer as a band?
We’ve done some soundsystem shows in order to keep the full live experience unique when the new record comes out. We’ve done Glastonbury, Secret Garden and Bestival and a few European ones. We are keeping quite a low profile so in a couple of weeks we can jump out and say ‘boo!’
In terms of house and disco at the moment, do you think there has been a significant increase in interest in both genres that makes what you guys are doing of greater interest in terms of popular taste?
I would say that’s true. I don’t think we’ve ever changed our sound to fit into anything though. Popular tastes come and go, but disco has definitely become very popular. I do worry there might be a bit of a glut of it and people are doing re-edits without paying attention to the source material. They basically just stick in a four-bar loop with a filter. There are a lot of people making music now, so you hope people don’t start getting bored of it.
Do worry there could be a backlash?
It happens all the time, but I think because we’ve always stuck to our guns we’ll be alright. I think because of the fact we are a live band we are viewed slightly differently. The fact we have that live arm means we aren’t in that boat and we’ll probably have more longevity.
What’s it like working with Futureboogie as management? You’re playing live at their Futureboogie and RBMA night at Motion on November 26th. Are you excited about that show?
The Futureboogie boys are brilliant and we were saying the other day finding good people to work with is like finding a partner in life. Steve and Dave are great to work with and so enthusiastic. They are coming from exactly the same place as us. They’re really on it and have their finger on the pulse of everything going on musically and in terms of the correct way to promote us. That Motion show should be great. I’ve DJed in The Tunnel Rroom a couple of times and I’ve loved it. It’s a quality line-up and I’m really looking forward to it.
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