“Santana at Woodstock seemed pretty rad…”
Sebastian Pringle from Crystal Fighters is in a hotel room in Lisbon when we reach him. There’s a festival tonight, another tomorrow, a string of gigs happening in the days after that. This is a band that love to travel and use the experiences they collect to inform what direction they move in next. After their recent sunburst-shaped enormo-smash You & I comes the new album, Cave Rave, which was inspired by the idea of ancient hole-in-a-hill dwellers free of all cultural baggage. A bit like [name redacted].
So what Lisbonic culture has Sebastian been soaking up?
“I’ve actually been sleeping most of the day,” he laughs. Righto…
Hello Seb – tell me, what was the first music you were aware of?
Well, my dad listened to a lot of blues and reggae; the Paul Butterfield Blues band and Taj Mahal were my his favourites. As I became a teenager I discovered Oasis and Blur and then we all moved onto American punk, like Pennywise – that skate sound. Later we moved onto UK punk like Capdown and Captain Everything, more on the hardcore and ska side which, of course, led us back to reggae and dub!
You’d come full-circle?
Yeah. I was listening to King Tubby and people like Phyllis Dillon. I was living in Bristol by then, so there was a lot of dub and hip-hop around.
What five artists couldn’t Crystal Fighters exist without?
I’d say Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and that whole Brazilian Tropicalia take on rock and roll. MF Doom would be in there, he was hugely influential for me lyrically and Madlib, his ease with samples and sounds is completely inspiring. Then I’d have to say reggae producer The Scientist – his Rids The World of the Curse of the Intergalactic Vampires album is a real favourite of mine.
What was the last amazing record you heard?
I love that sort of dubby, minimal techno that producers like Pylon make. Graham from the band is really into all of that and he knows a lot of those guys. The new Aquadrop record is great too – he’s really flipped his sound from glitchy electro to straight up trap. Then there’s Cumbia legend Anibal Velasquez – his stuff is really taking me away at the moment.
Are Crystal Fighters Spotify users?
Oh yes, big time. I think the amazing thing about it is you can hear a reference from someone in a conversation to a piece of music then you can go straight to it on your phone. I discovered King Tuff the other day through a chance conversation and I really like him. I think Spotify is an amazing resource.
If I could drop you into any band in history, who would it be?
Definitely Santana’s band at Woodstock – they seem pretty rad. They looked out of their minds and they had such a powerful vibe!
When these dates are done we’re going to throw a big Crystal Fighters party and you’re DJing: what five records are we guaranteed to hear?
Oh well, you’ll definitely hear some Pylon, then Mambo Loco by Anibal Velasquez – that’s a mad tune. Badness Dub by King Tubby is brilliant, then it would be straight into Chic’s Everybody Dance and some vintage Afro-beat piece by D.O. Misiani
OK, simple final question. What’s your favourite noise?
Oh that’s easy – birdsong is my favourite noise. We had a house outside Austin during SXSW in 2010 and the birdsong there was fascinating. I think a lot of early music must have been inspired melodically and rhythmically by those sort of natural sounds.
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