Fischerspooner is an art and performance project created and helmed by Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner that makes music, dance, fashion, film and photography. Straddling genres in art and entertainment, the project is renowned for outsider pop shows bursting with stage effects presented in both art galleries and traditional concert venues. They have released two full-length albums of music: 1, a punked-up digital party record trussed with conceptual lyrics; and Odyssey, a rich emotional fantasia with a deep, expansive sound.
Fischer and Spooner met at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where they collaborated on performance art pieces. Years later in New York, Warren was starting his career as a commercial director and Casey had become frustrated after a nine-year tenure with the experimental theatre company Doorika; both were looking for a new creative outlet. Eager to rekindle their collaboration, they attempted a TV pilot but became more interested in the digital soundtrack Warren had composed for the show.
Between 1998 and 2000 the duo wrote a spate of cool electronic tracks to accompany an ambitious new performance idea. The music was perfectly pitched for the turn of the millennium: a pure digital statement equally informed by Spooner’s love of pop confection as by Fischer’s classical training and background in the seminal math-rock band Table. The show, a smash-up of pop extravagance undercut by experimental theatrics, was carried off with aplomb by Spooner, the flamboyant trickster front man, and driven home with Fischer’s pulsating, addictive beats. With the help of an ever-expanding network of dancers, singers, designers, and artists, the performances grew into large-scale arena-style pop spectacles staged in galleries and nightclubs.
After an unlikely debut at the Starbucks on Astor Place, subsequent shows jumped between clubs like Limelight and Baktun and art world venues like Jack Tilton Gallery, P.S.1’s Warm-Up series and a staging within Rikrit Tiravanija’s “Apartment 21” installation at Gavin Brown’s enterprise. Fischerspooner unveiled their first solo show at Gavin Brown in March, 2000 with a series of marathon performances, five sets per night for five nights, that cemented their reputation as a pioneering, uneasily categorized creative force. In 2001 they followed up with a supersized version of the show in Los Angeles, and rocked New York in 2002 with a kaleidoscopic spectacular at current gallery Deitch Projects, concurrent with the premiere of their short film “Sweetness.”
Self-releasing the music at first, Fischerspooner amassed a dedicated international following during the heady first flowering of the digital music era. White labels and an underground vinyl release with DJ Hell’s International DeeJay Gigolo Records positioned them as a figurehead of the burgeoning electro movement. Meanwhile, their hyper-stylish performances at clubs like WMF in Berlin and Pyramid Club in New York left packed houses awestruck. Intense press attention led to a record deal with club pioneers Ministry of Sound, which drove “Emerge” into the UK Top 40, leading to an appearance on Top of the Pops, and in turn landed them a worldwide exclusive with Capitol Records.
After a few years of touring the U.S. and Europe, the duo began the grueling work of writing Odyssey. No longer a grass-roots operation making pop-art on a laptop, Fischer and Spooner grappled with themselves and each other, a process reflected in the emotional depths attained on the record. Opening the writing process to collaborators, the duo attracted a diverse group including songwriting powerhouse Linda Perry, art-pop pioneer David Byrne, and renowned intellectual Susan Sontag, who contributed the lyrics to “We Need A War.” Other contributors included longtime engineer and collaborator Nicolas Vernhes (Fiery Furnaces, Black Dice), L.A. producer Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air), and French producer and songwriter Mirwais (Madonna).
To accommodate their new sound, musicians were added to the live show. Throughout the rehearsal process, Fischerspooner presented the Excellent Workshop salon series at their studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Myriad artists were invited to show photography, sculpture, painting, video and performances that ranged from rock, dance, and cabaret to an all classical night and a live talk show. The salons even became a de facto community center during the popular screenings of the 2004 presidential debates. In 2005, after a sold-out premiere at New York’s Canal Room, the band embarked on a summer-long residency at Ibiza’s Man-U-Mission, the largest nightclub in the world. Performing every Monday night to tens of thousands, they spent the rest of the week headlining clubs and festivals from Oslo to Istanbul.
2006 began with an event sponsored by Calvin Klein at the Teatro Goldini opera house in Florence, Italy during Pitti Uomo fashion week. Next, Fischerspooner shared a bill with Cindy Sheehan, Michael Stipe, Bright Eyes and Rufus Wainwright for the Bring ‘Em Home Now concert in New York, commemorating the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The group anchored Deitch Projects and Paper Magazine’s second annual Art Parade in New York, crowning the procession with a dazzling float overflowing with musicians and dancers dressed by vanguard London designer Gareth Pugh. In perhaps their most unusual gig, Fischerspooner appeared as a holographic entity in Michael Counts’s “Field of Mars” production.
Currently Fischerspooner are busy preparing a book chronicling the years 1998-2004 from their debut through the end of the 1 creative cycle, Casey appears as Laertes in the Wooster Group production Hamlet, which includes two original Fischerspooner songs composed for the show using Shakespeare’s text (Hamlet has played Barcelona, Berlin, Paris and New York and will tour Europe again in 2008), and they are recording songs for what will be their third full-length album with producer Jeff Saltzman (The Killers, The Black Keys, The Sounds). Two of these songs are being released on the French label Kitsune on February 4th & March 10th, 2008 with performances to follow!