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Chicks On Speed: Sweat It Out.

20 January 2003 | 1:00 am | Emma Jane
Originally Appeared In

Kicking Against The Chicks.

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Chicks On Speed play the Boiler Room at 1.15pm at the Big Day Out at the Gold Coast Parklands on Sunday and The Zoo on January 22.

Chicks On Speed – art wank, political electronica or the new revolution in aesthetics meets anarchy? Most auteur's of taste would opt for the latter, with the COS ambience sweeping the fashionable post codes of the world. But they’re anti-fashion, right? Yes and no…in true Naughties style, COS represent the dichotomy of life in the early 2000’s…can a political conscience meld with hedonistic electronica and cutting edge art? Darn tooting it can say’s Sydney born, Barcelona based Alex Murray-Lesley, one third of the femme core of COS (including Kiki Moorse and Melissa Logan). Sounding a tad dazed and confused, Alex concedes that she and the gals are “good, but pretty tired. Right now we’re just compiling our new record that will be released in April or May, and we’re doing the cover graphics and working on new music.”

No rest for the wicked then?

“It’s full time! We’re living it all the time, which can get a bit mental, but we realise we’re together forever through good and bad…it’s like we’re married.” She laughs with the throaty voice of a girl living life in a nightclub.

The Chicks music can best be defined as eclectic, swaying from the swanky electro thrust of Euro Trash Girl to their moody and downright obscure cover version of Nick Cave’s Where The Wild Roses Grow, Alex says the current flava will have a more narrative edge.

“We’ve written a lot of new songs about capitalism, slave labour and globalism really, the graphics reflect all that, and we’re planning a really big exhibition in New York to coincide with the release of the new album in April. It will be called 99 Cent Sweat Shop, and we’re gonna have people there sewing our clothes, trying to emulate what a sweat shop really looks like and from that we’re gonna make our new videos for the album.”

For a group with a very strong political message of anti-capitalism and anti-globalisation, COS must walk a very fine line between commerce and art, being signed to a global distribution company and actively participating in capitalism. Surely some of the more staunch activists scream ‘sell-out’?

“Well, most of our friends are like that, they say ‘How can you do that?’ Either you decide you want to be an artist and be able to live like that, which I think is a really important part of it, you need to be able to devote all your creative energies to something, but sometimes you do have to compromise, because you have to be able to sell your records. In that sense, we are working within a capitalist society, but I think you just have to realise ‘OK, we don’t want to be greedy.’ It’s a very fine line, don‘t desire more then what you actually need. So to be artists and to be able to just make your art, it’s great to do that with enough funds to do that, but then anything above that is like moving into the greedy section, you know what I mean? I figure if you can always generate energies back into your work, I can only see that as a positive thing.”

The grand vision of CoS is the absolute melding of art, music and culture, with design jostling for position against ideology. The ultimate aim is to make you think, with the secondary bonus of making you dance too.

“It’s totally like we get the opportunity to bring all these elements together” enthuses Alex, “When you’re starting out you don’t have the financing to be able to bring everything together, so we’re lucky like that…we’re finding a deal with a new record company too,  I mean it will still be on Chicks on Speed records, but we’ll be working with another company as well, so that enables us do some other projects as well …some people will call that a sell out, but we don’t.”

The collaborative energy of COS continues with the new release 99 Cents, Alex sounds super-thrilled to have the opportunity to extend the Chicks family.

“We’re working with Christian Vogel, you know him? He actually DJs a bit in Australia, he does a record label called Rise Robots Rise that comes out of Brighton, and he lives in Barcelona. We’re working with him on the third album, and it’s very exciting to work with him as he is very based in Fluxus ways of making music, you know, the American art movement from the 60s that means when you make something, you don’t just say ‘I have this concept and we’ll take these samples’, it’s more like creating sounds yourself and finding experimental instruments to play. So we’re making our own instruments, it’s really cool and organic, and we’re drawing musical scores for each other to play, it’s really an incredible approach.”