Chicks on Speed  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Chicks on Speed is a multi-national musical ensemble, formed in Munich in 1997, when members Melissa Logan, Kiki Moorse and Alex Murray-Leslie met at the Academy of Fine Arts.

Though usually considered part of such musical genres as electroclash, Chicks on Speed actually started as a multidisciplinary art group who applied punk-inspired DIY ethic to performance art, collage graphics and home-made fashion (they have created their own stage costumes with cheap and recycled material such as plastic bags and gaffer's tape, for example).

They originally got their name when they worked at an art gallery to earn some extra money by hanging paintings, someone quipped that they worked like "chicks on speed".

They had their own club nights at Munich's Bar "Seppi Bar": Chicks on Speed had created an installation piece named I Wanna Be A DJ, Baby. They stood behind DJ decks and smashed records while a sound collage tape was playing. For this project they also put together a "box set" with a T-shirt, a cassette, a paper record and a fake interview for their "band". During this time they met Upstart (a.k.a. Peter Wacha) of Disko B record label who helped Chicks on Speed to actually get started in music.

Contents

History

Logan and Murray-Leslie were art students at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, when they met in 1997 at one of the Academy's parties. They began working as a group to create art exhibitions and host illegal parties. Those parties included a performance piece titled "I Wanna Be A DJ, Baby". Melissa and Alex then met Kiki Moorse (a member until 2006 now on Toffeetones Records), and invited her to join Chicks on Speed. In this period, COS also met Upstart of record label Disko B. This meeting would see the medium of music merge with the Chicks' multimedia explorations.

Music

A cassette titled Analog Internet was the first piece of music released by Chicks On Speed. The cassette was released in 1997, though it seems widely agreed that the first COS single was a cover of the song "Warm Leatherette", originally by Daniel Miller (as The Normal), released in 7" form. The single was released in 1998 and four further singles ("Smash Metal", "Euro Trash Girl" (originally by Cracker in 1993), "Mind Your Own Business" (originally by Delta 5 in 1979) and "Glamour Girl" over 1998 and 1999) preceded any actual album releases. In March 2000, two CoS LPs were released; the first, titled The Un-Releases, is not considered an official album, instead, it is described as a "collage" of various songs in various forms. CoS' debut, Chicks On Speed Will Save Us All appeared later in the month and featured all five of the previous singles as well as a new one, "Kaltes Klares Wasser", a cover of a song by the German all-women punk band Malaria!. All six of these singles proved popular and in October 2000, The Re-Releases Of The Un-Releases was issued.

Several EPs were issued over the next few years such as chix 52, a collection of B-52's covers and Fashion Rules that heralded the arrival of the 2003 second album 99 Cents. The album produced three more singles, "We Don't Play Guitars", a collaboration with Canadian artist Peaches, which was well-received around the world, a cover of Tom Tom Club's "Wordy Rappinghood" which saw a number of guest stars including Le Tigre, and "Flame On", a hidden track on the album. By this time CoS have already been collaborating with Anat Ben-David, an unofficial band member working with them since 2002.

In 2004, their third album, Press The Spacebar was released. The album was a collaboration with the Spanish band The No-Heads. No singles were issued from the album, though it included a new version of "Culture Vulture", a song from their previous LP release 99 Cents.

In November 2006, the Chicks released the 12" single "Art Rules" produced with Christopher Just, with guests Anat Ben David and Douglas Gordon after the release, the Chicks concentratd on live performances under the same name and toured art institutions the world over, collaborating with A.L. Steiner, Anat Ben David, Kathi Glas and Adi Nachman on production.

Chicks on Speed also worked on an album with Dirty Disco Youth in Barcelona and Hamburg, developing Objekt Instruments for studio and stage implementation and held a solo exhibition at Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre.

Outside of music

Logan and Murray-Leslie have always classified COS as a multi disciplinary "project" blurring the lines between, art, music, fashion and performance. They run a record label, Chicks On Speed Records, together with Peter Wacha, Juergen Söder and Gero Loferer, releasing recordings by Le Tigre, Kevin Blechdom, Gustav, Ana da Silva of The Raincoats, DAT Politics, Susanne Brokesch, Kids on TV, Anat Ben-David, Angie Reed and the Girl Monster compilation series.

Chicks on Speed's interest lies in art, something that also characterizes their live performances. Their solo art exhibitions include Kunstverein Wolfsburg 2004, Kunstraum Innsbruck 2005, CAC Vilnius in 2007. Other exhibitions are Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Bilbao Fine Arts Museum 2007, Switch On the Power, Vigo, Spain 2006. XMas, Sell-Out, and ChicksTV. They played at the Turner Prize Retrospective at the Tate in October 2007, and at MoMA in June 2006, as part of a special evening with Douglas Gordon. Their work with Douglas Gordon included a performance at the Centre Georges Pompidou in February 2007, Collection TBA-21 hosted a performance in Vienna in April 2007, and an exhibition at Yvonne Lambert in Paris in September 2007. They have been responsible for the cover art for various other artists, particularly ones signed to their label and Mego Records in Vienna.

Chicks on Speed's focus on fashion began in 1997 with their first stage costumes, these developed into a longtime collaboration with kathi Glas and more recently with Peggy Noland and Ari Fish and Jeremy Scott. The fashion side of COS has grown into collaborations with independent fashion brands: including textile yardiges for Crystal Ball Japan in 2007/2008, DAA (Designers Against Aids) and Hennes and Mauritz "Fashion Against Aids" in 2008. In 2009 Chicks on Speed and Insight launched the project, Insight on Chicks on Speed, with a range of girls surf wear, and a song and video, titled "Super Surfer Girl". They are currently working on a larger collaboration with another larger brand.

Chicks on Speed launched an Art Scarf with Little Red Ridinghood, based in Berlin, released globally in art museum bookstores in December 2009.

Logan and Murray-Leslie published the book, titled Chicks on Speed: It's A Project, Booth-Clibborn Editions. The book contains historical pieces of information about the band and their art from their beginning stages onward, including a dress, DIY pattern to make overalls, designed by COS and Jeremy Scott, a CD of unreleased music and a poster, all together in a tote bag designed by COS.

London jewellery label, Tatty Devine, designed pieces for Chicks on Speed Japanese and US tours to go with their "Fashion Rules" single. They made plectrum inspired earrings and necklaces.

Chicks on Speed (Melissa and Alex) performed live DJ sets in Europe from October to December 2009, as preparation for a major solo exhibition at Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre that opened on 4 June 2010.

For the last three years Chicks on Speed have been working on a series of what they call Object Instruments, (as maniac performers) shying away from filling the stage with conventional band instruments, they invented their own instruments, which at times double as fashionable stage outfits –for example: Super suits, outfits which remotely trigger audio/video and a haute couture hat, which is a self contained amplification device.

The exhibition at Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre was their first major solo exhibition in the UK. Chicks on Speed opened with a live art performance for invited guests on 4 June; featuring the ‘e-shoe’ – the world’s first wireless high-heeled shoe guitar, made in collaboration with Siberian-born shoe designer Max Kibardin and Hangar.org. These shoes were unveiled alongside Chicks on Speed’s ever-growing collection of self made ‘objekt instruments’ – cigar-box synthesizers, super suits with sewn-in body sensors that trigger audio/video samples and two hats made in collaboration with Christophe Coppins and Hangar.org, based on illuminated drawings of Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th century Christian mystic who received visions, composed ethereal airs, performed healings and even founded convents. These hats transmit the utterances of their wearers by way of microphones and speakers.

The DCA galleries were further transformed into a giant stage and studio set for making music videos, experimenting with no-choreography and ongoing craft projects live, including loom-weaving inspired by Bauhaus design, lectures and workshops, film screenings of their fashion archive and selected video pieces. Chicks on Speed have been working with local and international artists and makers to combine traditional craft with cutting-edge technology.

In addition, at the end of November 2010, their second book, Don't Fashion, Art, Music, was released.

Solo activities of the members

Murray-Leslie founded and curated the compilation Girl Monster in 2006, featuring sixty two women in cutting edge music from the late 1970s to present day, released on Chicks on Speed Records. The "Girl Monster" 12" single, featured Scream Club, Client, Chicks on Speed, Vivien Goldman and Kids on TV. Murray-Leslie is currently a professor of performance fashion at Elisava, Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona. In 2009, she collaborated with Pelican Avenue and Kroot Juurak to create 'A Hanging Garden Party', a fashion performance, performing scene by scene at global fashion events, including Tokyo and Paris Fashion week. Murray-Leslie is director of Diane Pernet's 'A Shaded View on Fashion Film, Barcelona, 2011.

Logan has appeared in German theatre plays Versaut (with costumes by Kate Lloyd-Hughes and Chicks on Speed; at Kampnagel Theatre, Hamburg, 2001), Alles wird in Flammen stehen (Frank Gehry Tower, Hamburg, 2001) and a "propaganda operette" L'Amerique (Hamburg, 2003), for which Chicks on Speed provided the song "Class War". L'Amerique's "soundtrack" (with music by Les Robespierres featuring Melissa Logan) has been released on Chicks on Speed Records in 2004.

Moorse, has now left Chicks on Speed to pursue a career in DJing. She also has a music project, called Bad French, with Andreas Reihse of Kreidler.

Members

Discography

Albums

  • The Un-Releases (2000)
  • Chicks On Speed Will Save Us All (2000)
  • The Re-Releases of the Un-Releases (2000)
  • 99 Cents (2003)
  • Press the Spacebar (with the No Heads) (2004)
  • Cutting The Edge (May, 2009)
  • The Beat Is Happening (2010)

EPs and singles

  • "Warm Leatherette" (with DJ Hell) (1998)
  • "Euro Trash Girl" (with Mäuse) (1998)
  • "Smash Metal" (with DMX Krew) (1999)
  • "Mind Your Own Business" (with Pulsinger, Gaier/Reents) (1999)
  • "Glamour Girl" (1999)
  • "Kaltes Klares Wasser" (2000)
  • "Split 7" with V/VM" (2000)
  • "Chix 52" (2000)
  • "The Chicks on Speed / Kreidler Sessions" (with Kreidler) (2001)
  • "Fashion Rules" (2002)
  • "We Don't Play Guitars" (2003)
  • "Wordy Rappinghood" (2003) - UK 66
  • "Flame On" (with Mika Vainio) (2004)
  • "What Was Her Name?" (2004) (Dave Clarke featuring Chicks on Speed) - UK #50
  • "Art Rules" (2007)
  • "Super Surfer Girl" (2008)





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