3_2005_cspooner.jpgFischerspooner, the collaboration between Casey Spooner and Waren Fischer, are about to release their second album Odyssey. Gothamist caught up with Casey to find out more about the album and the direction the duo are taking.

Age: 35
Avocation: Artist
Birthplace: Athens, Georgia
Current residence: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
# of years in New York: 10 years this August
Relationship status: Committed

For those you aren’t familiar, what is Fischerspooner?
It’s a creative project that can embody a lot of different things, but its focus right now is primarily music and performance.

How did you meet Warren?
We met in art school in an experimental video class.

Is it true in the early days you guys performed at a Starbucks?
Yeah, our first show was in a Starbucks. I was in another band called Sweet Thunder and my friend Kelly Kuvo organized this showcase to happen at a Starbucks. Sweet Thunder performed and a lot of the performers in Sweet Thunder had side projects, so it was sort of a full evening of everyone performing in Sweet Thunder and all their other related musical projects and different performance pieces.

We caught one of your performances that went along with your album #1. Can you talk a little bit about that.
That show to me was about this kind of Madonna, sort of outsider punk, do-it-yourself pop show, because the first record was made very independently and self-financed. It was totally outside of the music system.

And for the new record…
For the new record we had the chance to work in studios and work with musicians and all of a sudden had resources and access to people we never had before. So it’s really been about focusing on making an album and making music and the focus is how to perform that music live. So it’s changed a little bit you know. But it still has our flavor.

What are you thinking in terms of going on the road in support of the new album?
We are in the process of making a new show and in a lot of ways it’s been all about starting over. Making this new record was really a challenge. We had to find a new way to work together and it was a lot about starting over, so that’s sort of the way I’m approaching the show. I’m happy and ready for a change, but I also I think I have a certain sensibility that will always be a part of the work that we do.

How would you describe your music?
We always said that we made rock pop, because I felt like even though we got couched in dance, it was more like we were making rock music with computers. Most dance music it’s not about verses and choruses or any kind of a lyrical idea. It’s very long and kind of repetitive and fairly simplistic. For me, the first record was always about this electronic rock pop thing and it’s still that, but it’s become much more with the addition of live instruments. It’s become more rock.

One of the songs off the new album is called “We need a War.” How did that song come together?
I met Susan Sontag through a friend and she mentioned in passing that she had always wanted to write a song. When it came time to work on the record I was excited about the idea of working with her. A lot of it was because I felt like I was starting over and I wanted to find new ways of working. I was meeting with people just to see how they worked and what their process was. I was very excited to work with Susan, just to try to become a better writer. The interesting thing is, she sort of forced me to become a better thinker.

We went in and we had these discussions. I showed her my notes and instead of witnessing her craft a song, she went away and came back in 15 minutes and gave me the song.

It was very early in the writing stages. It was just a big jump for me to go from Sounds good, looks good, feels good to We Need a War. But Warren and I both knew that when we were gonna make this record it was gonna be very different. We felt completely different. We weren’t feeling like party like it’s 1999. I wanted to be able to reflect on how my life had changed in New York. So when Susan gave me those lyrics, it was just like listen, I don’t know if I can do this and she was very encouraging. She really forced me to think about it seriously. Ultimately, I felt like once I got further into the record and we found the right music and the right melody and the right vocal delivery, there was a way that the language worked musically.

How did she feel about the end result?
She liked it. She became very ill. I know that she heard it and I know that she liked it but I never actually got a chance to talk to her directly. It was very upsetting.

She was just such a special person. I am really happy that I have this crazy project that gets to live on and I got to spend time with her, mostly socially. You would think that she would be serious and intimidating and that was the thing that was kind of shocking and exciting. When I met her she was so extroverted and so alive and almost like young. She made me feel old. That was such a liberating and exciting thing to be around. Somebody who was 71 and they were so vital and so electric and so fearless. I wish that I had known her better.

We heard that Happy, another song off your new release, is about your relationship with New York…
I wanted to write about the city because it’s a very intense and special place to me. It’s really kind of defined my character. I don’t think I could be doing what I do anywhere else in the world, but I’m telling you this town can be a bitch.

It’s like an unconquerable beast and you just don’t know what each day is going to be like. Some days it’s the most voluptuous, incredible, epic place that sort of takes you to an ecstatic realm. Sometimes just walking down the street, there is such an energy, joy and excitement in being here. Then there are other days, when it feels like she’s literally just bearing down on you. You can’t do anything right and nothing is easy. And she won’t let you in. So it was like taking those feelings that at times are bitter sweet and talking about my relationship with the city.

You worked with some amazing people on the new album. How did that come about?
It was kind of an accident. The two people I wanted to work with initially were Susan Sontag and Linda Perry. I loved the idea of making a mainstream record that had a super hit writer with superstar intellectual writer together. I felt like it was this cool gamut that we could sort of straddle and I love the idea of trying to bring those two worlds together.

Is there anyone you are thinking about approaching in the future?
Maybe Chet Baker. But honestly, I sort of want to get back to working by myself.

Who do you think your audience is?
It’s always changing. At first we were adopted by this mix of New York art, fashion, music and theater people. Then that kept growing and growing further into the art world.

Then our first record was properly released in Germany and there was this new audience. First people came to us because of the show, then people started finding out about us in other parts of the world through the album first. We got this crazy mix of art, fashion, and music people and then goth and teen and adult contemporary. It’s kind of expanding. It’s exciting.

I haven’t been performing lately, so when I go out and do a show that’s when I’ll really see who’s there.

Your performances feature some pretty outlandish costumes. How important is “appearance” to you? Has it become less important…
It’s changing. I have a lot of interests and a background in visual art, performance and music, so that’s what I like about this project it gives me the chance to combine all of those ideas. It was a real struggle for me for a long time because I didn’t know - Am I an actor? Am I a painter? What am I? I could never quite figure it out. It’s just part of the way I think, having a background in visual art, but here I use myself to create a image. The image that I create is related to whatever the ideas are in the music, what the song is about. And, whatever the theme is I’m trying to illustrate.

I had this crazy haircut, and I had this big crazy head of curly hair that I had been working with for the past six months. For me it was all about creating this wild, romantic, angelic image. But I have to say, I got so sick of the perm that I shaved it all off yesterday.

I know this is going to sound strange, basically the idea was that I would create these illusions and it’s gotten to the point where I have to create the illusion so often that I am becoming the illusion. I know that’s weird. So it’s kind of hard for me to do some high maintenance roller set hairdo everyday. I’m a little more wash n’ wear lately.

For a while there Fischerspooner became synonymous with the whole Electroclash scene. What happened to Electroclash?
I don’t know. I don’t have any hard feelings about it at all. I think it was a blast. It was amazing. We were doing what we did before there was a name for it. There was a moment when everyone’s ideas were overlapping and that was an exciting when we all discovered each other – it was Peaches in Berlin, djs in Munich and Hacker and Le Tigre in Montreal. All of a sudden there were all these people working in a similar way and that was exciting.

I don’t know what it was, just a funny combination of people sort of encouraging this kind of decadent, wild excess. The media eating it up in this cycle where it just kind of spun itself to where it had to implode. To me that was kind of the point. The first years for me were really about having fun and creating excitement. I can’t even believe there was a name for it. That’s fantastic. It will go down in the annals of history as some kind of turn of the century phenomena.

You recently returned from Europe. Any highlights from your trip…
I had a fucking blast in Berlin. It is really one of the best places to go out.

There was this amazing illegal after hours place called Club Rio. They opened it just for us on a Tuesday night. It’s usually only open on the weekends and it was completely packed. Peaches djed, then Warren and then Hell. Hell is just an epic, amazing dj. His parties are a blast. The crowd was so cool, it’s like everyone there is a Dior model. They look like the height of fashion because the height of fashion is ripping them off. Except, they are all really broke and really cool and interesting.

Fischerspooner has been hosting a weekly Thursday night salon out in Williamsburg. We heard you celebrated your birthday there and the cost of admission was a gift…
It’s very casual there is no admission ever. I just like making up funny rules.

Oh my god, I got crazy stuff - from bottles of wine and chocolate, to a bag of pantyliners, a plastic ET doll and Winnie the Pooh bedroom slippers. A Louis Vuitton luggage tag, records, pictures and a lifesize cardboard cut out of myself. All these cuckoo gifts.

I’ve done it before. Jessica Craig Martin took these amazing pictures of my birthday table, it was just like a mess of all these things piled on the table. One of the most beautiful things I got for my birthday that I did there three years ago was this cake in the shape of a Budweiser can. It was iced and it looked just like a Budweiser can. It was this crazy table with bleach and a Budweiser can cake and books and magazines.

How has stardom affected you?
I don’t feel like a star. I’m not a star. My dream was always to be famous in such a cool way that people didn’t know who I was. I think I achieved that in a way. It’s not like anyone ever recognizes me or freaks out on the street.

Basically it’s given me the chance to not have a shitty day job. That is what I am really thankful for, is that I can think and execute my creative ideas and try to live in pursuit of making things whatever that is. So that’s a blessing.

You probably go out all the time. What are you doing on a typical Sunday night?
I really don't. I’m kind of quiet, that’s why I like to do the salon. It’s a cool way to socialize but it has a creative element to it.

On a Sunday, I could be going to someone’s house, to a party or I could be staying home and watching a movie. Most likely watching a movie.

Who is your favorite New Yorker (dead or alive)?
Washington Irving.

If you could change one thing about New York City, what would it be?
Make it cheaper. If it keeps getting more and more expensive it is just going to get more and more boring.

It’s the year 2024, what do you think will be the hot topic of discussion at the water cooler?
Basically humans are the same forever. Love and anger. Getting a promotion.

If you never met Warren, what do you think you’d be doing now?
I really thought I was going to be Spaulding Gray. That was kind of the trajectory. When I was a kid, the two things that were the most influencial on me were Laurie Anderson and Spaulding Gray. That was what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I would probably be doing something pretty similar, some combination of art, music and performance.

Do you have anything to say to the naysayers, or people that don’t get or have yet to embrace Fischerspooner…
I’ve always known that what we’re doing can be confrontational or off putting to people. We are trying to do something interesting and complicated, but accessible. Honestly, I like it when people don’t like it. I think it’s fun. If everyone likes what you’re doing, you kind of aren’t doing anything interesting. If you’re trying to challenge people’s beliefs or understanding of something, people aren’t going to necessarily like it always – some people do and some people don’t. For me a successful audience is a divided one.

Fischerspooner's new album, Odyssey, hits stores April 5. Join them for a record release party on Thursday, April 7 from 7pm-11pm at FS Studios, 110 N1st St, Williamsburg. The event will feature a dj set from Warren and Casey and beverages courtesy of Absolut Vodka and Vitamin Water, 21+.

Fischerspooner will also be taking up residency at the Canal Room in May. Check out their website for more details.

Photo credit: Dusan Reljin

Interview by Mindy Bond