Joe Gillis: I didn't know you were planning a comeback.
Norma Desmond: I hate that word. It's a return, a return to the millions of people who have never forgiven me for deserting the screen.
It was supposed to be just one song.
In January, 2013, four years after the release of their previous album, Entertainment, Warren Fischer invited Casey Spooner into the studio to collaborate on their first new song since 2008. If you know anything about Fischerspooner–a DIY art project that debuted with a guerrilla performance at a Manhattan Starbucks and snowballed into a sprawling spectacle that kicked open the door for the post-electroclash pop revolution–you know that once they get working, even their most modest plans have a way of quickly turning into something much grander.
Four years and some change later, Fischerspooner is back with what might be their most ambitious and challenging project yet: an expansive multimedia work spanning a museum exhibition, an art book, and Sir, their first collection of new music in nearly a decade.
Fischerspooner has never just been the work of Fischer and Spooner. For each project the pair have built a family of collaborators to help realize their vision.
Well after it became clear that their new project wasn’t going to stop at just one song, Spooner turned to his longtime friend Michael Stipe for songwriting advice. In typical Fischerspooner style, asking for notes on one track quickly turned into a full-fledged collaboration. Soon enough, Stipe had signed on to co-write and produce the album, and Spooner was working round-the-clock sessions in a studio around the corner from Stipe’s home in Athens, Georgia– a place he had first visited 30 years ago after the pair hit it off on the dance floor of Athens’ 40 Watt Club, and an 18 year old virgin with a Prince Valiant haircut found himself going home with a long-haired rock star in BMX pants 10 years his senior.
Stipe and his frequent collaborator, songwriter/producer Andy LeMaster, not only helped flesh out Spooner’s songs, they also pushed him to give the most honest and powerful performance of his career. Working as a team, they dove deep into the emotional and sexual turbulence that’s defined Spooner’s life for the past few years, centered around the dissolution of his long- term relationship and his re- entry into a sexual landscape that’s been radically redefined by new technology. The songs that surfaced are intensely explicit, not just about the physical aspects of sex, but the messy ways that feelings and self-image get tied up in it–the way that emotionally fraught fucking can still be profoundly erotic, or how an anonymous encounter off a hookup app can be a powerful vehicle for radical self-transformation.
When the songwriting was finished the trio sent them to Fischer, who sculpted a sonic environment with the help of digital programmer and writer Le Chev that not only complemented Spooner’s deeply personal performances but reaffirmed the indisputable role that Fischer’s work has had in shaping the sound of modern pop. Fischer found his own new creative partnership with the rising producer BOOTS, the upstart beat-maker who’s helmed zeitgeist-defining recordings by Beyonce and Run the Jewels, and co-produced the hard-edged, hedonistic lead single “Have Fun Tonight.”
Sir is the most powerful album of Fischerspooner’s career. This is a new Fischerspooner, one that’s confident enough to peel back the artifice to reveal its erotic, emotional core with an honesty, an immediacy, and a rawness that the group’s only shown glimpses of before. It may have taken four years to create, but Sir is an album very much of the moment, where the personal has become more political than ever before, and where unabashed queerness has become a revolutionary act aimed back at a tidal wave of conservative repression. We need Fischerspooner now more than ever.