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Crystal Fighters bring some optimism to 2016: “There is an element of positive action to our sound and we are glad to be fighting that corner”

Por: | 16 de noviembre de 2016

Crystal Fighters, by Jackson Grant. Interview with Sebastian Pringle, centre.

2016 has been a year marked by divisiveness, politics that promote a fear of others and a movement to put up walls and barriers around our national identities. Global political attitudes have shifted toward a national defensiveness and a distrust of alien cultures, veering away from ideals that embrace, accept and celebrate differences.

But if there is one band that is standing defiant in the face of those ideologies, it is Crystal Fighters.

Based in London, the band’s core members are Sebastian Pringle (vocals, guitar/ukelele), Gilbert Vierlich (keys, guitars, Txalapaparta) and Graham Dickenson (guitars. txalaparta). They formed in 2007, and while Sebastian and Gilbert are both Londoners, Graham is from the US and former singers and original band members Mimi Borelli and Laure Stockley are Spanish and of Basque descent respectively. The band were inspired by stories in a notebook authored by Stockley’s Basque grandfather (the name 'Crystal Fighters' was taken from a play written by him). From the start, the band’s sound was grounded in Basque-folk influences, combining electro beats with the ferocity of the txalaparta, a Basque percussion instrument.


Crystal Fighters are an important band to have around right now. Their largest fanbases are in the UK and Spain, and can be seen as a creative example of the importance of nurturing cross-border relationships, “We are English speakers, but we are heavily influenced by Spain,” says Sebastian. “Thankfully Spanish people like our music too. While there is loads of amazing music in Spain made by Spanish musicians, they are mainly known in Spanish speaking countries. So we try to make Spanish songs in English, as it just comes easier to an English speaking audience.”

The band’s unique Basque-electro sound demonstrates how creatively fruitful global fusions of culture and music can be. While writing their first and second albums they travelled to the Basque region, and for their newly released third album Everything is My Family, Sebastian returned again to the Basque countryside,  “...we always try and use elements from the Basque culture as it ties the music together. Usually it’s the wooden blocks, the Txalapaparta” he tells us. “It has such a tribal energy about it, we love using that in our music”


Live in Amsterdam, 2016. Photo by Teresa Weikmann

While writing Everything is My Family, Sebastian also travelled further afield to South and Central America. “It is really life experience - that’s the main thing that shaped the album” he clarifies. ”Whether it's the Basque culture, North America, Central America... wherever we go we try to connect with the people and the landscape and the land -  the sound of the place - and just let it flow”

Everything is My Family maintains  the signature upbeat positiveness characteristic to the Crystal Fighters sound. Lyrics focus on themes of love, partying, dancing and togetherness. “The lyrical idea just comes from appreciating everything having its place in a beautiful cycle of life -  the idea that everything is helping each other exist in this world” Sebastian says. “Going back to the big bang, or whatever it was that sparked life - there was a family at that time, so surely we are still a family now - just much more spread out.”


The sense of inclusion and community is important to their live show as well, as they urge their audiences to hold hands and come together. “That's a whole other side to our thing” he explains. “The body is amazingly sensitive, receptive to positiveness, smiling, hugs, to joy - that will actually make you live longer. We are social beings.”

Crystal Fighters nurture and encourage optimism. Two years ago their drummer Andrea Marongiu tragically passed away from an underlying and undetected heart condition. Despite this, the new music has not ventured into negativity or hopelessness. Rather, they pay tribute on the track “Lay Low”, which celebrates life and the profundity of the love between friends and family. It is an uplifting track, emblematic of the attitude of the new album.

Whilst maintaining his passion for exploring new sounds in different places, Sebastian still lives in east London. His attitudes differ to those of some of his fellow countrymen - those who agree with Prime Minister Theresa May, who recently declared “If you believe yourself a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere.” Sebastian reflects on this statement. “I suppose she is trying to be divisive and get people to get behind their country. I completely disagree - going under the ‘everything is my family’ type thing - refugees, asylum seekers. It’s terrible selfishness that these richer governments seem to have”

One of Crystal Fighter’s earliest and most popular track is the electro-frenzied rave song 'I Love London', which has evolved into a sort of anthem for Londoners. In light of recent political events, does he still love London? “I do love London” he says, unwavering. “I currently live in London, I still have optimism. Although, I realise that I hang around in certain circles - I am vegan, I go to vegan restaurants...but I see people understanding and trying to make a change, especially environmentally.”

Through their music and live performances, Crystal Fighters want to make you dance, smile and forget a little bit about the darkness of the year. “There is an element of positive action to our band” he stresses. “Positiveness, get together, dance, fun, freedom, light, awesome - and that makes you feel good. We are glad to be fighting that corner”

Crystal Fighters are currently on their European tour, and will play Spain in December. For more information, click here

"Everything is my Family" is out now

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Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check:

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