Sign up for our weekly newsletter
TRCH Hairspray

Crazy P

8 May 15 words: Scott Oliver
"When we first moved here, it had a really vibrant house scene; something quite special was going on. That's deteriorated recently, although there's still the legacy"
alt text

Photo: Simon Parfrement

You’ve been at it for almost twenty years. Has the creative process become easier over time?
Chris: I wouldn’t say easier, but it’s changed. It’s always a challenge to be creative and write music. It’s never something that becomes more ‘on tap,’ because you have to grow, change and broaden your horizons. Sometimes you can have a week in a studio and nothing happens.
Jim: In terms of learning your craft technically, things are a lot quicker than they used to be. Creatively, it’s the same as always – sit at the keyboard and pray something happens.

Have you got a method for when you have a barren period (excuse the pun)? Go to the pub and get shitfaced?
Chris: Yeah, pretty much. You have to get away and think about something else. Go and visit your mum and walk the dog for the weekend or something.
Jim: Simon Mills from Bent used to go down to a junk shop if he was feeling creatively dry and buy five random records to make or sample something from. You narrow your parameters, which is sometimes good when you’re starting off with an idea.

How about the lyrics? How do they usually come about?
Danielle: I write the lyrics but it’s not something I go away and bring back to the table. It’s usually something emotional brought about from the melody, often affected by what’s happening in my life. I’m not an abstract writer. I’d like to tap into that but you can sound like you’re too obviously trying.
Jim: It’s a fine line – step over it and you’re into cheese territory.

What about the mechanics of sustaining a career in music? How important is live stuff?
Danielle: Even playing Cardiff on a Wednesday night to thirty people – it’s gotta be the best show you’ve ever done, otherwise you lose momentum. You’ve gotta give it your all every time you play. Those people have turned up, bought a ticket and supported you.
Chris: It’s not been affected by the digital side of things. People still pay money to go see a band. People like us don’t make any money off records any more. It’s all about the gigs.
Jim: You tend to centre it around releases now. You used to do one-offs, now you do it around the album.

What about the stuff peripheral to making music?
Chris: We’ve probably got a bit better on the logistic side of things – it’s marginally slicker. We’re more aware of certain things than we were ten years ago.
Jim: Peripherals aren’t our strong point. We’re just about together enough to put out a good tune without worrying about having to drive to Swindon on a Wednesday night.
Danielle: Touring is a wonderful feeling. You go through big ups and downs and when you’re not together, you can wander off into your own mind and that becomes a challenging place. When the band comes together, it’s like a footie team coming together – it’s better than doing keepy-uppies in your back garden with a deflated ball.

Are you still burning the candle at both ends when you’re on the road?
Jim: I can’t do it anymore. I’d love to still be robust enough to carry it off but in the last twelve months I’ve had a few words with myself on Sunday mornings and said, “You’re gonna have to take this down a notch”. Looking at the tour dates and the weekends now, I’m thinking, I’m gonna need to keep a lid on it here. If I don’t, then we’ll be into gig four and I’ll be a shadow of my former self. But then, the best laid plans often go tits up on the first night and you’re chasing shadows for the rest of it.
Danielle: There are always those gigs that you look at and go, “Yes, that’s the one to let our hair down”. Get Weepy Wednesday out the way and you’re off. Never say never, but you have to watch it.

alt text

Walk Dance Talk Sing will be your seventh LP. How has your sound changed over that time?
Chris: On a basic level, it started off as just me and Jim and we were very reliant on samples and had very little equipment. The first album was very much a collage of stuff. That spilled over into the second album, but Danni was on board then. Our studio equipment evolved and we were starting to record our own instruments – getting the guitars and keyboards out, and obviously vocals. It started to become – dare I say – more sophisticated.
Jim: Our musical taste broadened, so we threw more stuff into the pot creatively.

Which is your favourite album, apart from the new one, obviously?
Danielle: When We On, for me.
Chris: We’re all proud of that one. It seemed to have a really good identity.
Jim: It was a shift away from previous material in terms of complexity and production.
Danielle: It all got quite electronic at one point, so it was nice to see this reintroduction of instruments.

You guys met as students here and have stayed. What do you think Nottingham, as a creative community, has given you as artists?
Chris: When we first moved here, it had a really vibrant house scene; something quite special was going on. That’s deteriorated recently, although there’s still the legacy. There’s been an upsurge recently – nothing major, but it’s better than it has been.

What do you think the deterioration has been down to?
Jim: Every city of this size in the UK is struggling in terms of venues and putting things on. I don’t think you can put your finger on exactly what it is. For Nottingham, all the big movers and shakers moved away – James Baillie moved away; DIY moved away.
Danielle: When I was twenty- or thirty-something, I would get so excited about going out. It wasn’t spouting on social media; it was physically getting together. There was real community spirit. I don’t see that enthusiasm anymore. I love that there’s different movements going on, but a lot of the raw passion and energy has been diluted by social media. I’m probably gonna offend people by saying that, but it’s become more about who goes to clubs and less about those who’ve put all their energy into it. It’s become about guest list and VIP areas. It affects promoters because people become expectant of a guest list.

What would be your ideal Nottingham gig, money no barrier?
Jim: We played the Market Square a few years ago, but I’d love to play the main room at Rock City. As a punter, that’s quality – there’s no bad places to be.
Chris: Nottingham Ice Arena. Or Broadmarsh Centre.
Danielle: Outside the Wimpy.

I didn’t ask about dropping your –enis and becoming Crazy P. When did you get castrated?
Chris: 2006, I think.
Danielle: It just became problematic. That’s the boring answer. It got tired.
Jim: Council-run venues didn’t want to get involved. It wasn’t important enough for all the hassle we got. American customs officers, Singaporean promoters…
Chris: We didn’t think we’d get more than two twelve-inches in, really.

Which three tracks are the best introduction to the Crazy P sound for people who don’t know you?
Danielle: Stop Space Return, for me. A good song.
Jim: Heartbreaker is more sample-based but harks back to some of our earlier stuff.
Chris: Maybe Witch Doctor, as well, off our new album.

Walk Dance Talk Sing is released by !K7 on Monday 11 May 2015.

Crazy P website

We have a favour to ask…

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion now