UK disco-house crew Crazy P has been rocking the scene for two decades. But in 2011, they finally started to get massive international recognition for their irresistibly groovy vocal tuneage.
Fronting the band is charismatic chanteuse Danielle Moore, who joined Crazy P founding members James Baron and Chris Todd in 2000, helping take the act to a whole new jamtastic level.
Moore's sultry vocal style and decidedly provocative lyrics make for dance music with far more grit and substance than you'd expect in today's derivative house music landscape. It's one of the reasons Crazy P is currently stirring up a storm in clubland.
Crossfade caught up with Ms. Moore ahead of Crazy P's WMC performances to talk about the band's early days and its newfound success.
Crossfade: When did you first start singing? Did it come natural or are your classically trained?
Danielle Moore: Definitely in the bathroom -- best acoustics in the house. Often resulting in neighbors shouting -- but so satisfying! I was actually inspired by the first gig I went to as an 8-year-old. My mum took me to see Chic, and from then on I wanted to perform. I haven't had training. I'm not sure whether that's good or bad. I think an amount of vulnerability is a nice thing... until of course, you lose your voice!
What sort of musical projects were you involved in leading up top Crazy P?
I was a member of a "bedroom band". I can't remember what we were called, but it was great! I was just too timid to take it out the house, and so we only ever did one gig, which was a couple of months before I met the lads. My confidence had started to grow.
Manchester is a major musical hotbed -- the birthplace of seminal acts like Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, Chemical Brothers, and more. How has Manchester shaped you personally as an artist?
Manchester's musical history is rich and varied, but mainly wonderful. The city is very industrial and there is a heavy working class element to many of its suburbs. It suffers pretty grim weather and most people spend a lot of time getting soaked through by its main resident: the rain. My teenage years were spent in soul clubs dancing 'til the early hours and my introduction to The Haçienda in '89 definitely shaped my hunger for more.
It was a meeting point for everyone -- creative or otherwise. No mobiles, no internet, no lame excuses not to make an effort. You waited all week for Saturday. It was the best music, the best dancing, the best drugs, and a release from the grind of the weather and humdrum of work. At the time, Manchester wasn't a particularly affluent place, but music was something where money wasn't a necessity. I think people were hungry for creativity at that time, as it was something to unite people.
So how did Crazy P first come about, and how did it evolve into a live band with singer combo, as opposed to its former DJ duo incarnation?
I had always collected music and had a smallish but flavorsome selection of vinyl. I loved listening to music and was always a dancer. I moved into a big shared house with a group of friends who I met through clubbing. My room was the music room, where I set up my decks and most after-hours were spent up there with me gladly entertaining anyone that was still up and interested.
Jim and Chris happened to be there one night and asked me if I could sing. They were looking for a front person and I went round and we had a jam, and the result was my first song with them, "Started Something". They were musicians before they were DJs and so writing music was easy with them. Jim is a trained trombonist, as well as his command of other instruments, and Toddy much the same, apart from the brass. With production being another of their talents, they knocked up a backing track, and alongside Tim [Davies] the bassist and Mav [Kendricks] the percussionist, we were ready to rock. Our first gig was with Maurice Fulton -- we love him!
So here's the million dollar question: Why the name Crazy Penis?
There must be some sort of story behind it. As you can imagine, we get asked that question time and time again, and we tried to be witty with the answer but we drew a blank! The name originated from a 7-inch record the lads had called Loco Pingo which vaguely translates as Crazy Penis. The record label at the time, Paper, thought it was more fun, and the lads were studying and were pretty happy to go with it. Then I joined the band, and when my nanna asked if she could get the album from HMV and I said naively "yes", she said "what is the name of the band?", and I froze. The thought of my nanna, a true lady, saying the word penis was just not something I ever wanted to hear again... and so we chopped the "-enis"!
There's an almost story-like quality to your lyrics. Characters and narratives of sorts. What typically inspires your songwriting and about whom or for whom do you write them?
I mainly write for myself and from personal experience. I find it a useful way of expressing feelings and dealing with emotions or situations. Touring can be a lonely place, but also a good time for reflection and watching films and listening to other music which resonates with you more in that situation. Myself, Jim and Chris spend a lot of time together, and I think when we're in the studio we tune into each other, and we usually know when something feels right... wow!
Crazy P has had a loyal following for many years, but 2011 saw you blow up even bigger with a younger audience. What do you think precipitated this newfound popularity and what have been the biggest highlights so far?
Plastic Surgery? I think we have good management now, and although we have worked previously with some good people, the guys at Futureboogie are a great partnership for us. 2020 Vision, our record label in the UK, have some young fresh acts on their label and this has heightened awareness of the new album.
I think that too is part of the reason we have attracted a younger audience as we have had various young remixers involved in tracks from the album: Jamie Jones, PBR Streetgang, Julio Bashmore and Mario Basanov, to name a few. We have a fresh energy -- maybe that is rubbing off! We have a loyal fanbase too, and word of mouth spreads quickly these days with Facebook, etc. We're also honored to be working with Liason and OM. Highlights for us -- Electric Pickle, the Garden Festival Croatia, Bestival -- I think they are top of the list of the last year.
Your sound definitely seems nostalgic for a time when dance music had real songcraft, lyricism and a human dimension. Do you think electronic dance music has lost something along the way? Where would you like to see dance music going in the future?
I agree, but that's because I'm primarily getting older. It's certainly evolving, and more people are wanting to be DJs and musicians. It's so much easier to release your own music these days, so many options. The main problem I have is everybody wants everything now! And for me, that takes away the passion and excitement of waiting for something that you've been hunting for ages. It's nice not to have everything. I think people have forgotten how good surprises are. The same is with music -- it's becoming disposable, especially dance music. I think we cross two decades of music, but hopefully will continue to evolve into the third. With regards to where dance music is going, I dont know -- and if I did, I'd start off a trend!
What does Crazy P have in store for fans in 2012?
Miami, of course. Some great UK solo gigs, festivals in Europe and beyond, many more DJ gigs, and we are working on a new soundsystem project which will hopefully make the live project more versatile. It gets hard sometimes to tour a full live band. So this will involve live vocal effects and new machines! We are all in training.
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And what can Miami expect from you during WMC week?
A more live feel to the DJ/PA gigs. New equipment, flame-throwing and acrobatics. And good times we hope!