As soon as we saw Capital X on stage, we knew we wanted to know more about this ‘digi-rock-n-roll’ duo. We managed to get hold of their forthcoming single ‘Number 1 Fight Star’ which reels you in right from the beginning with dark ballsy synths and erratic drumbeats. It gets better from there with beautiful feminine vocals and a beat that you just need to move your feet to. They are right, the beat will make you stronger. However, as great as the single is (and it’s definitely a track that’s going to be on our playlist for a while), this band is really best experienced live. Indeed, you just can’t recreate the presence they have on stage and the atmosphere of everyone dancing down the front – whether they be Goths, metal fans or ravers – no matter how loud you turn up your iPod! So, you’ve heard our verdict, but we only thought it fair to ask Capital X to say a few words for themselves…
“We don’t roll over for anyone”
S] Hi Julz and Ruby! How has 2009 been for Capital X so far?
Julz Capital X] Well hello there! It’s been pretty good thanks. Lots of shows, lots of travelling, lots of writing, lots of messing about, the usual.
Ruby Capital X] Plenty of productivity, plenty of adventures, a good few stories to tell…
S] We first encountered you at Leeds’ popular Goth night, Friday Flock, but you’ve played to such a diverse range of music fans such as dance festival crowds at Glade and fans of heavier rock when you played with Die So Fluid; How do you gear your show towards such different audiences?
RCX] I don’t think we’ve ever thought about it in that way, like going out and trying to please people based on what we think they might like to see. Our records are naturally influenced by so many different kinds of music I think we sit quite comfortably in the middle of a lot of genres anyway – so there’s already plenty of room for people to grab onto the songs from different directions. We don’t roll over for anyone.
JCX] We just get up there and do our thing to whoever’s watching, so far people seem to like it! I think it’s important not to play up to any specific audience, fans can spot a fake a mile off – if it’s not your sort of thing then fair enough, but we’re not going to tailor what we do to meet anyone’s expectations.
S] Your MySpace profile says you met while you were at school and you always knew you’d be in a band together – have you always agreed on the type of music you want to create?
JCX] Yes, although there was no master plan to begin with. We messed around with guitars in a few punk bands together with our mates when we were at school, which was a laugh, then we decided to take it seriously and go it alone, and started playing with electronics. I’ve always been obsessed with keyboards and drum machines, and as there’s only two of us it made sense to use equipment that could make all of our ideas come to life straight away. We play as much as we physically can live, the rest is programmed on a drum machine and put on a backing track. The ‘type’ of music we wanted to create was never going to be bound by certain instruments though – we like everything from Kraftwerk to Sex Pistols to Iron Maiden to Spinnerette – so it was just a case of creating something we both wanted to hear and play, using electronics to get our ideas across. Plus I’m a s*it guitar player anyway so we didn’t really have any choice!
RCX] We’re really honest about what we think of each other’s ideas. Neither of us is precious about the music or the art or words or whatever, so if someone doesn’t like something we just say it straight up. Mostly one of us will come up with the beginnings of a song and then we’ll both just start getting excited and throw in other suggestions or make changes. We just bounce off each other really, we’ve been best friends for years, Julz knows me inside out.
JCX] We know each other inside out. Looking back, things just came together without us really having to talk about it. We bought the instruments we could play and afford, started throwing all sorts of ideas around and the sound of Capital X was born.
S] How do you work together in the writing process?
JCX] It depends on what mood we’re in or where an idea springs from. Ruby might draw a picture and write some lyrics, from which I’ll form a song and then pass back to her to finish, or I might come up with a riff and some lyrics, which I’ll pass on to her to flesh out.
RCX] It’s a totally joint effort. Often I’ll get a picture in my head for the song, like of a scene like the car crash in ‘Death Valley’ or a character like ‘Number One Fight Star’ or ‘Predator’, which sometimes drives writing the music, and sometimes grows out of music we’ve written. We like really strong images which makes doing the artwork for a record really easy because it’s there from the beginning. People ask us how everything we do has a certain consistency or direction and it’s simply because all the elements – the music, the words, the artwork – happen together.
JCX] Concept is important to us, but not in a pretentious way. Each song has its own identity, and more often than not a central character, which comes to life when the song is finished.
S] What was the first album you each bought? Do you still listen to it now?
RCX] I had an older brother so I tended to borrow a lot of stuff off of him – Pistols, Manics, a lot of 90s bands like Elastica. That’s what got me into music really young. Everyone wants to say the first album they ever bought was bone-achingly cool but I actually think mine was ‘Definitely Maybe’ by Oasis on cassette – you could collect tokens with petrol from the BP garage and I saved up for that. It’s not top of the playlist right now but songs like ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Live Forever’ will always be anthems.
JCX] Mine was Green Day ‘Dookie’. I had to send my mum to buy it because it had a parental advisory sticker on, and MVC wouldn’t sell it to me. I listen to it occasionally to remind me of the innocence of my youth. Or lack of.
S] Generally, when we think of electronic music we automatically conjure up images of the 80s and bands that imitate that sound, but Capital X is living proof that there are new and exciting bands within the genre. What are you doing to show the rest of the world that electro is a relevant part of the contemporary music scene?
JCX] There are some really great electro bands out there today, but too many are still afraid of crossover and tend to limit themselves to one small pocket of electro because they think there’s a guaranteed fanbase waiting for them at a certain club or in a certain town. We have so many influences and ideas that it would be impossible to limit ourselves that way, so we just don’t. We get out there and play anywhere to anyone, and I’d like to think that we’ve created something a bit new and different. I reckon our sound has been most accurately described as ‘digi-rock-n-roll’– it’s digital because it’s all electronic, but I suppose it’s also rock because it involves a lot of energy, some weird song structures and a lot of jumping around. There’s no standing still behind our keyboards, or staring into the middle distance talking over a drum loop. Of course we recognise how important the 80s were for the genre, but that was then and this is now.
RCX] ‘Electro’ can sometimes be treated like a bit of a dirty word but actually there are loads of really exciting things going on with electronic music. Bands like the Prodigy have been forging a path for years and if you look outside the UK you’ve got people like Alec Empire, Kavinsky, whole collectives of artists like Valerie in France and Bang Gang in Australia who are really pushing things along, creating something new. I am genuinely excited about music right now.
S] If you could create your own festival, who would you ask to be on the line-up?
JCX] Good question. Iron Maiden, Kraftwerk, Deftones, Sex Pistols, Prodigy, Wildhearts, W.A.S.P, Kavinsky, Cascada, Alec Empire, Fischerspooner, Man Like Me – Can I have all of those? Remembering that I’ll probably change my mind tomorrow and swap someone for Therapy? or The Almighty…or maybe Go West…I think Ruby had better answer this one more sensibly.
RCX] If it’s a fantasy festival, I’d chuck in Spinnerette for the sex, Primal Scream for the drugs and the Clash for the rock n’ roll. The world is crying out for Capital X-Fest.
JCX] Funding on the back of a postcard please.
S] What’s been the best moment for you so far as a band?
RCX] We went on a full UK tour last year to promote our single ‘Club Midnight’ and I would quite happily have never come home. We met so many great people, had so much fun and doing what you love every night, well it just doesn’t come any better.
JCX] For me there have been loads, every time we get onstage it feels like an event and it’s a privilege to play. We’ve met some brilliant people and done some bizarre things, hopefully there’s loads more to come. Recently I’d have to pick our gig in Leeds, when I finished the set playing on my knees on the floor after some forceful back-to-back action from Ruby sent my keyboard flying. There was blood, sweat, tears, laughter and bruises. Lovely.
S] You’ve recently made your music available on iTunes, how do you feel about the music industry moving away from CDs towards this new age of the MP3?
JCX] I don’t love the idea of MP3s as the be-all-and-end-all of music distribution. I don’t own an iPod and I still buy CDs and vinyl, and spend all day checking out the inlays and all that stuff. I like to hear the music as it was meant to be heard, rather than in a tiny and compressed strangled state. At the same time though, of course it has its benefits. Being able to make music available to the whole world online is a great thing, and if it means people being able to hear it versus not being able to hear it, compress away. Don’t steal my songs though or I’ll have you.
RCX] I still like having something I can hold in my hands. You get the inlay, the artwork, the words, I like all that, it helps you build up this little world around a band. But downloads are a convenience, especially if you just want a one-off track. I do sometimes get an overwhelming urge to listen to a song right at one moment and an MP3 usually scratches that itch.
S] So at the time of writing you’re having a pre-release party for your new single Number 1 Fight Star in Berlin (out yesterday – November 23, 2009), how did that come about and what do you have planned for it?
JCX] When we released our last single ‘Club Midnight’ we toured the UK. We’ve never played a show outside of the UK before, so what better way to mark our new single release than to venture overseas. Popmonitor webzine are having a party and agreed to let us crash it as special guests to celebrate. We’ll be playing some new material, some old favourites, and generally having some fun.
RCX] You can expect plenty of energy, plenty of sweat, some dirty bass, some killer heels and, being in Berlin, a good few litres of bier.
S] Where do you want to be in five years time?
RCX] We’re always looking forward to the next thing. We’re very ambitious and have so many ideas for bigger songs, more visuals, more electric live shows; our biggest problem is keeping up with ourselves. I know in five years time we’ll probably be thinking about the next five years – never satisfied, always hungry for it.
JCX] I want to be everywhere. Being bigger and better, doing more of what we’re doing now, perhaps with a few million dollars and my own piece of the Nevada desert. Then I can sort out that fantasy festival line-up.
S] Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
JCX] Remember the CX motto – ‘The Beat Will Make You Stronger’.
RCX] This is for anyone that’s heard the rumour going round that we have big balls – there’s only one way to find out, get down the front and check for yourselves.
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