Ego, Berghain And The Irrelevance Of Drugs: Crystal Fighters On Raves

Not shy of a late night, the continent-straddling stars are well placed to take us through the parties of their past, present and future...
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Not shy of a late night, the continent-straddling stars are well placed to take us through the parties of their past, present and future...


Crystal Fighters are a band born in the bowels of a thousand raves.  From warehouses in Hackney Wick to festival fields and arena floors across the world, they have made the feet of thousands stamp in time with their Basque-influenced electro-folk.  Last year they even put on their own  inside a cave just outside San Sebastian, aptly called the Cave Rave after their most recent album.

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Live, they are an electrifying proposition. At times it’s a classic balls-to-the-wall rock and roll show, all G n’ R riffs and topless posturing.  At others it’s a proper twanging rave, propelled by the serotonin waves crashing from the stage as much as the sweeties being passed around.

Before their recent show at Brixton Academy I caught up with C.F guitarist Gilbert to talk about the sanctified art of raving, why it matters, and his most memorable nights out/mornings in.   Despite being only two hours from their biggest show to date, and constantly fielding calls and door knocks and guestlist requests, Gilbert proved himself to be the sort of guy whose success reinforces the theory of karma.  I suppose it’s befitting that a guitarist in a band who preach love and harmony should be so unquestionably lovely, but I’ve interviewed a lot of musicians in my time and they definitely ain’t all like that.  Certainly most don’t have the unhurried drawl and wide smile of a man that looks like he’d laugh his way through the Rapture. Proof, perhaps, that raves don't have to be bad for your health...


The Cave Rave…
Unfortunately the hosts of a party don’t normally have as much fun as everyone else! Ours was not one of my favourite raves but it was an incredible experience and has given us something we can try and perfect over the years.  It’s opened up the doors for us to experiment, and throw raves in indigenous hotspots around the world.  I’d like to do one outside the Mayan pyramids in Mexico City.

Most important…
The raves that had the most impact and were most inspirational, were the first few I went to which played music that I liked.  There were earlier raves I went to in America [where I’m from] but it’s a different dance music culture, especially when I was getting into dance music.  It’s a lot more house-based, fast, techno.  When I started it was like glow sticks and cargo trousers.  The ones I go to now, there are no glow sticks.

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Crowds…
In Berlin, 2 weekends ago, I can’t tell you exactly where, but it was in a squat on the water in Kreuzberg and it was amazing. Really good system, really good people, really well controlled, everyone there was respectful.  If you needed water, or a drink, or to go to the bathroom or anything, nothing was too much trouble for anyone.  Everything’s streamlined, everyone’s respectful and is there for the same reason, which is to listen to good music rather than just get wasted and have some sort of laddish evening.

Drugs…
You can achieve numerous levels of consciousness with or without substances, but if that is your thing, then that’s up to you and I’m not one to judge!  I hate the terms drugs anyway.  I personally don’t think of a plant that grows out of the ground as a drug. Depending on who you are, some people find a less selfish way of existing through substances, whether it’s plants or real drugs.  For a lot of people, they can just shut off ego and allow you to just exist, which can make you really happy.

Festival raving…
Fuck, we go to a lot! Melt is amazing for dance music, for all music.  It’s just outside Berlin on an old industrial site and it’s just crazy.  I’ve only been there after playing, but I would pay to go there if I had the time. I remember seeing Boyz Noize there, about six. It was insane.

Australia…
I’ve never raved there. It’s expensive, that’s the thing.    We did a Parklife tour with Magnetic Man, Diplo, Duck Sauce, all these big guys and it was quite full on.  Lots of fun, but lots of getting wasted. We’re back in Australia for half of January.  I like to surf and there’s some of the most epic spots there, so I can’t wait.


Recession raving…
The ceremonies people used to have thousands of years ago were  mind-altering and perspective-altering experiences in a closed off space.  There were very inspirational and impactual on all creativity that we’re a part of now.  Now you can go to a rave or a club in a dark space and you can lose yourself of time or space and you can let the music and vibrations effect you and you can leave in a much more enlightened space than when you came.  And it’s not about the drugs. At all. And if you’ve tapped into that energy before, you don’t need to have anything to recreate that experience.  And the problem is a lot of people are focusing on the drug side of things, rather than actually having fun.

Berghain…
Panorama Bar, If you get there about 4 or 5 in the morning on the Sunday until 11/noon, it’s insane dude. They kill it. Everyone’s so respectful, and so free. It’s ‘cos they’re all scared shitless they’re not going to get in!  And their door policy isn’t strict, or unfair, it just keeps out the dicks. If you keep the people who are up to no good out there’s nothing to worry about.  There’s no security, everyone’s free and listening to the best sound system in the world.  But you can recreate that energy in numerous places, it doesn’t have to be in that club.

Crystal Fighters gigs as raves…
If we can create something where people lose their time and space and feel connected to people and feel energised by positivity and love, then, sick. Recently things have been going pretty well, it’s like one big energy ball…

New single 'Love Natural' is out now. Get all the info on upcoming C.F tours and releases here