The Vine interview: Ethan Kath of Crystal Castles, January 2011

An interview for The Vine. Excerpt below.

Interview – Crystal Castles

A universal truism for music journalists: when a tour manager tells you to call back in 10 minutes because they “can’t find” your interviewee, it’s a bad sign.

In this case, the interviewee is Ethan Kath, the producer and instrumental half of Canadian duo Crystal Castles. Kath has been dabbling with experimental electronica for over six years now, but it wasn’t until he discovered livewire vocalist Alice Glass – who, at the time, was in her late teens, fronting a noise punk band named Fetus Fatale, and spitting beer onto heckling middle-aged punks – that the act we now know as Crystal Castles took form. Since then, they’ve released two self-titled albums of glitchy, gaudy, distorted electronica, as well as the occasional beautiful pop song. See: ‘Celestica’, from last year’s Crystal Castles II – which rated highly on TheVine’s annual critics poll – and their most recent single, ‘Not In Love’, a song originally performed by Canadian new wave 80s band Platinum Blonde which was covered by Crystal Castles and featured The Cure singer Robert Smith on guest vocals. Powerful stuff.

Which brings us up to date with the present. Which Ethan Kath isn’t in. This isn’t the first time a Crystal Castles member is missing from an interview: a 2008 feature in Toronto magazine Now was written largely around Alice’s absence. I alternate between thinking about that article and going over my intended questions, while I wait the requested 10 minutes before re-dialling the local phone exchange, re-entering the PIN, and re-entering the 13-digit phone number that connects me to a mobile handset located somewhere in Tokyo.

“Hey, it’s Ethan,” says a voice; one that bears bad news, delivered in stilted tones.

The bit you probably already know: Ethan tells me that Alice has a broken ankle. The bit that we published as a news story – rightfully, I might add – which cast Crystal Castles’ scheduled appearances on the Big Day Out 2011 tour in doubt. To wit:

How was your day in Tokyo?

A little bit stressful.

Why’s that?

Because Alice is injured.

What happened?

We’re at the hospital, having x-rays taken. It appears that she has a broken ankle.

Oh shit. What will that mean for the Australian tour?

I don’t know. Maybe she’ll be doing it in a wheelchair. I’m not sure.

So this happened at last night’s show?

No, it happened earlier.

So to clarify, this is not going to affect your Australian tour?

I don’t know. This is sort of a bad time to ask right now.

Indeed. At the time, my mind was racing: Should I continue with the interview, given that Ethan’s right-hand lady is, right now, as we speak, getting her probably-broken ankle x-rayed? And…is this a scoop? I hadn’t heard about it anywhere else. (Afterwards, I’d check Twitter and find that a handful of Japanese fans had tweeted about it a few days earlier, but no other news outlets had reported it.)

Having spent two hours earlier today researching dozens of past interviews with the band, I’ve been bracing myself for an unresponsive interview subject. I was right to. Admittedly, this was a difficult situation for Ethan to be in – attempting to answer questions about his music and career to an Australian journalist, while he’d probably rather be keeping an eye on Alice – but he didn’t sound too fussed about it all. I get the impression that he’s never fussed about anything much. I ask Ethan whether he wants to proceed with the interview. He says ‘OK’.

For the full  interview, visit The Vine. For more Crystal Castles, visit their website. The music video for their song ‘Celestica‘ is embedded below.

Sidenote: the initial news article about Alice’s broken ankle made it onto Hipster Runoff, which instantly became a career highlight for me. <3 U Carles.

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