Interview – Crash Jacket

Nottingham’s Crash Jacket have built up a strong local following over the past two years, incorporating dance, funk, rock and hip hop influences into their distinct sound. With their debut EP due to be released this year, M3 contacted the band to find out what they thought about the music industry…

M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Crash Jacket – We are Crash Jacket, a four piece Nottingham band, and we have been fusing elements of dance, funk, indie and hip hop to try and create something fresh sounding and shake up the local music scene. We play high energy gigs and put as much life and fun into the shows that we play as we can!

What inspired you to form Crash Jacket? What are your own musical backgrounds?
A conversation between the Vocalist and Bassist, we were both in bands which had pretty much run their respective courses, so we wanted to start something new and innovative. Our influences are as varied as you can get, which was kind of the point for us and it’s reflected in the music we play, we didn’t want to be pigeon holed into one genre. Some influences include, The Smiths, Rage Against The Machine, Tool, The Libertines, The Arctic Monkeys, The Police, My Dying Bride, Cypress Hill, Oasis, Mogwai, 65daysofstatic and Joy Division.

What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
It’s really about convenience, and depends where you are, if we’re in the home then it’s probably CD, if we’re on the move then it’s most likely MP3. Just totally because of ease of access. For quality and for the true connoisseur then Vinyl will always be king, but they are just totally impractical these days, they don’t fit in your pocket so well!

Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
An album for us defines a certain moment in the development of a band, 10 years ago buying an album would take you on a musical journey and would always have songs on it which wouldn’t be appreciated at a first listen but would grow on you. Today though it is so easy to just download the one song that you like and ignore anything that doesn’t grab you straight away. Music has become much more disposable and single songs reign supreme. It is difficult for bands to release an album that will sell, although this has had to make them work harder and really think about what they put out. The public is much more fickle, which does have some positives.

Much has been made of the supposed death of the record store in recent years. Do you believe the digital age has killed the record store, and if so, do you think that this is a necessary part of progression, or a tragic loss?
The digital age has totally destroyed the concept of the record store, with music becoming so much more accessible and having everything at your fingertips there is no longer a need for you to step out of your front door. From a nostalgic point of view this could be seen as tragic, but just as our parents lamented the death of vinyl it is part of the evolution of the music scene in general. Things change and we have to change with it. It has it’s positive and negatives. The digital music store gives a much wider range of music and has allowed more raw unsigned talent the opportunity to get heard. But it has made music much more impersonal and throw away.

How useful do you think social media websites are for new bands?
It is essential, for us without things like Facebook or YouTube we would have not gotten the reach that we have. It has allowed us to market ourselves through friends for free, and has gotten us gigs in really high places like Rock City in Nottingham. That would have been pretty much impossible ten years ago without the backing of a record label.

Recently, there seem to be a large number of bands offering their releases for free via sites like Bandcamp. What do you think of this distribution method, do you think it is a realistic solution to the problem of illegal downloading?
It’s not really realistic over the long term, for new bands it’s perfect, it gets you out there and lets people hear you without having to invest any money. But to record and produce music properly costs a fortune so in the long term bands need to charge for their product. In terms of illegal downloading it will probably always be with us and we have to make choices as the consumer to support the talent we love. Unfortunately it is usually the easy, cheapest choice that is made.

Do you think traditional copyright laws are still enforceable in the digital age, or do you think we will have to rethink the concept of copyright itself?
Copyright was designed long before anyone even dreamed the internet was possible, sharing and passing things around for free has really blurred the idea of copyright. Lots of methods and changes are being talked about by governments, recently SOPA, but these ideas whilst trying to preserve intellectual ownership generally just ending supporting the big companies interests. The death of copyright could put the ownership back on the artist themselves and give them the power to control their music as they see fit.

What would you say are the main challenges facing an up-and-coming musician/band in today’s cultural climate?
Funding is the biggest challenge, getting the money behind you to record decent demos, getting exposure isn’t too much of a problem as long as you are prepared to put the work into your own marketing. Whilst it is much easier to reach the public you’ve got to be prepared to work for it and
be your own promoter a lot of the time. Also there probably hasn’t ever been more unsigned bands vying for a place in the big time, so making yourself stand out having something no one else does. There is a lot of talent out there but you need to be able to work hard to get yourself heard.

Finally, what does the future hold for Crash Jacket?
The biggest question of all! Hopefully more and more exposure, we’d like to try and start reaching a world stage, playing more gigs around the UK and Europe. We hope to release an EP, through iTunes and then who knows? The ultimate goal for us is a sold out arena tour! Obviously that’s well down the line, for now we’re just gonna keep putting the hard work in and plugging ourselves in as many places as possible!

For more information about Crash Jacket, you can find the band on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.

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About M3 Event

The music industry is rapidly changing. The internet has enabled widespread piracy, as well as a variety of new business and distribution models. We want to offer an engaged audience in and around the Euregion an opportunity to develop a coherent and detailed picture of the future of music distribution. On the 31st of May 2012 a music conference in Maastricht, consisting of oppositional debates, creative workshops and lectures, will provoke opportunities for intellectual stimulation, debate, as well as networking. We hope to utilise the skills and ideas of some of most forward thinking minds and operators in the industry in order to highlight some promising new ideas and areas which can be improved upon.

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