Ethin is so pissed right now. His band, Crystal Castles, was scheduled to perform in New York, when everything went tits up at the Canada/U.S. border. "Basically, the cops took one look at us rolling up, didn't even ask us a question. The officer just got on his walkie-talkie and said, 'I've got a white Malibu that I'm bringing into the garage,'" states the multi-instrumentalist. "The garage door closes behind us, and we're locked in there for seven hours, because they're sure we stole [the car]. I mean yeah, I don't have a white Malibu, obviously, but I rented one for the weekend so I could get to New York City, and now because of it, I'm locked in this fucking garage with three cops thinking that we're criminals, assuming that we stole a car." He sighs. "It was such a bitch."
If only the border patrol knew what they were depriving New York of. The Toronto band–consisting of Ethin (whose real name is Claudio) and his bandmate Alice on vocals and keys–is one of the freshest electro acts of the moment, with a sold-out 7-inch ("Alice Practice" on Dalston, England's Merok Records), remixes of Klaxons and GoodBooks under their belts, and another anxiously awaited EP in the wings. As for their sound, it takes the usual designer-sneakers-and-black-hoodie electro-banger scene and gives in a swift kick in the ass with searing punk spirit, courtesy of Alice's gritty, raw vocals and Ethin's pounding basslines and glitchy sampler tweaking. It's danceable yet harsh, fiery but fun.
Crystal Castles coalesced over mutual admiration and good hair. "Alice's best friend had a crush on me," chuckles Ethin who, as well as Alice, uses no last name. "She would come hang out and Alice would be with her. They had a band together, so I went to check them out. I loved Alice's lyrics and everything she was saying. And her haircut."
Their partnership settled, Ethin gave Alice some 25 songs he had written on his computer for her to record vocals onto. "We actually recorded the mic check, and that song became the song 'Alice Practice,'" he says. "It was the first time I had heard her sing over the instrumentals, but she wasn't too happy about me putting it on the internet," he says, referring to Crystal Castles' MySpace page. "It's funny, because after posting it without telling her, Merok Records asked if they could release 'Alice Practice' as a 7". I was like, 'It's just her mic-checking and me setting levels. It's not even a song.' They were like, 'No, it's a song and we want to put it out.'"
He has to laugh at the irony. "We never put any thought into this band at all," he says. "We put some songs together, got some pictures up [on MySpace]. People offer us money to play live, and it's like, 'Cool! Money. We can buy beer with that money.' The most thought goes into buying alcohol with the money we've made."