An array of black markers, jars of acrylic paint, skinny and fat brushes, and cans of spray paint before him, Casey Spooner, one half of Fischerspooner, begins billboarding song titles from the electroclash duo’s self-released third album, Entertainment (out next month). The guerilla-style graphic rendering, Spooner says, “seems appropriate, as the entire album was written with song titles first, music and lyrics second.” It will come as no surprise to fans who have witnessed Fischerspooner’s live spectaculars that the performance artist himself became an integral part of his piece: a black-and-white sweater by Australian designers Romance Was Born, bold patterned jeans by Jeremy Scott for Tsubi and silver sunglasses by Adam Kimmel fit seamlessly into his floor-to-ceiling graffiti-style mural. The resulting piece, he says, “is a bit Stefan Sagmeister; it also reminds me a little bit of the graffiti artist Neck Face’s style.”
Spooner says of his approach today, “I had no idea what I was going to do. I was just excited about trying to use all of the language of the record on the wall.” Titles like “Supply & Demand” and “Money Can’t Dance” sprayed big and black against the silver wall spell out where his head was at while writing the songs. “There has always been this duality between entertainment and art for us — trying to find a balance of commercial versus creative. The title Entertainment sort of puts that idea in quotation marks.”
Bandmate Warren Fischer, who composes the music for the duo, sees the theme of economic crisis writ large across the album’s 10 get-your-feet-on-the-dancefloor tracks. Spooner considers it “a record of crisis—and hopefulness.” He was already in economic freefall long before the current recession. Odyssey, Fischerspooner’s second album, was recorded for Capitol Records in 2005, but the label, says Spooner, didn’t offer much in the way of tour support once the album was completed. It was near-death for the performance-based act, and they parted ways with the label soon after. Fed up, Spooner considered moving to Istanbul, but ended up finding creative rebirth while working on a production of Hamlet with the New York theatrical company The Wooster Group.
Today, Spooner and Fischer are back to their DIY indie roots, and savoring the possibilities that the shift has brought with it. While making Entertainment, Spooner was intrigued by frontiers: space travel and the wild West filtered heavily into his creative process, as did kabuki and flamenco cultural traditions. Without corporate dollars behind them, Spooner is taking specific cues from his love of flamenco: “Flamenco is basically the poor people’s entertainment. It becomes fetishized, romanticized and glorified — but really, we’re watching hookers, whores and hustlers, the filth of the earth, and how they entertain themselves. It’s all about the power of these performers, and how they command the stage with just themselves, gesture and percussion.” Although, it must be noted: Rare is the flamenco dancer sheathed in a big red tinsel coat by Gareth Pugh, as Spooner is during part of the band’s current act, or outfitted in dizzying black and white, as he was during his impromptu performance with paint.
Photography by Victoria Will.