Photography by Christel Escosa
Kap Baminbo have a little whiff of the suicidal about them...like a remedy to the vague, yet ever present perfume of stinky old life. But all together, Kap Bambino’s music makes you feel aggressively glad to be alive. They’re like the bite of alcohol to clean a bloody slash; a sharp intake of breath at the sting, making you writhe and thrash and revel in the glorious mess of things. The French duo have been described as harnessing the spirit of hardcore and punk bands - minus any live instrumentation – which is true; but above all else, Kap Bambino is an expression, an outlet for both Caroline Martial (vocals) and Orion Bouvier (laptop wizard) to unleash themselves onto the hungry and wide-ranging masses.
It was the day after the mega-hyped Kap Bambino gig at The Old Blue Last. Everyone was feeling a little worse for wear after cutting sick on the moshpit, thrashing about, sweating it out (breaking a couple of the Old Blue’s antique cinema seats in the process) and generally laying the crowd to waste. Orion was dying for a cigarette so much that he lit up in the severe and austere white walled art space we were sitting in.
And besides coming away from their gig exhausted and exhilarated early that morning, I also came away from talking to them with a new found respect – and I really liked them. They’re nice people. Apparently, unlike another duo that they are often put next to, who are becoming more and more infamous (and unpopular) as they go. When your antics are being talked about more than your music, it’s gotta be a bad sign. Caroline and Orion hate the association, but it must be made, particularly in light of the most recent Crystal Castles debacle (with Vega at the Granada Theatre in Dallas).
Respect to Kap Bambino. True artists who have continued to do what they do despite someone else having stolen their thunder; still moving through the world with their uncompromising (zero life, night) vision. But whatever, if I’m going to wax metaphorical and call Crystal Castles the ‘thunder’, then Kap Bambino were most definitely the lightning before the rumble.
The aforementioned ’thunder’ might’ve made people start at the noise, but the brightest illumination is definitely Kap Bambino – the ones who truly heralded not only their American counterparts, but the frenetic, noise filled storm which came after them.
How did you first meet each other?
Orion: In a party.
Orion: In France - Toulouse.
And how did you decide to start working together?
Caroline: It was natural. We were working on our own projects and then we started to want to do the label (wwilko) then two years after we start Kap Bambino.
How long ago did you meet?
Caroline: 8 years ago.
And where do you guys live?
Caroline: In Bordeaux.
Is that how you know Charlie (Le Mindu)?
Caroline: I know Charlie for many years now!
And how did you meet Matt Irwin?
Caroline: In London, Jane, our best friend, the girl from Alt Delete Records, she is friends with Matt, because he was shooting for an exhibition of his in London and we met him.
He sites Kap Bambino as a source of inspiration, a muse, in your energy. look and performance.
Caroline: His energy is amazing.
Yes, yours too. The gig last night, was pretty fucking insane. People in East London don't get excited like that and that was the first time I'm been to a gig where people were just like letting loose and just thrashing about. Normally, everyone is too cool for school, and nobody wants to (at least outwardly) get excited about anything. What do you think it is about you guys that makes people excited?
Caroline: I don't know why! Sometimes we do this music in little little country towns and people don't know this music, but end up dancing too. It can be in Paris with people who are too cool for school, or in Mexico, or in Japan and people just like it. Maybe because our music is raw.
So where in the world have you found the best crowds?
Caroline: I guess we can give you an example of where it was cool for us because everywhere we are so happy that people come every time.
Orion: The most exotic for us was in Mexico City, because the crowd was really really underage, it was full of kids, but it was also with old women from the street, with prostitutes from the corner, there were guys with guns guarding the son of a politician at the front of me...there were so many hundreds of people at the show and they were all jumping like crazy.
That's what made me laugh at your gig last night, people just went diving into the crowd -
Caroline: Yeah! Everybody can leap everywhere. You know people say that a lot, "Oh NOBODY do crowdsurfing here. Nobody. So you have to be really careful." I say, ok yeah. And then when we do the show, by the second track EVERYbody's trying to do it. There are videos on the web of people crowdsurfing at Kap Bambino gigs. Maybe people just know that it's okay, its cool to kill the beast, you know? Whether it be in the clothes or fashion, the attitude of the kind of music...it's fun, because two weeks ago, in the east of France, in the asshole of nowhere, we are playing at 7.30pm in a reeeeally posh place with really posh people - too cool you know? But we play and by the end of it they were all going as crazy as anyone else, and I'm fucking proud of this. It was a challenge to see what we could do.
With Blacklist, what are you writing about, what are you trying to express?
Caroline: 'Blacklist' is a continuation of 'Zero Life, Night Vision' of course, but with new ways also. We have tried to push the root of our music, to give more space. If you got something working in your music and if you keep it, it's fucking boring. You cannot do the same thing every time, like, oh yeah, Kap Bambino, the girl she yells, she gets hysterical... we have tried to put more melody and more synth but with the same energy. We've tried to go a little more 'pop'. Maybe some days I call it pop I'm fucking crazy. Pop, indie (inverted commas).
You guys did the soundtrack for Charlie's show, which everyone loved. Where did you take some of the music from the soundtrack?
Do you plan to do more things like that in the fashion world?
Caroline: For friends and for stuff we like, not necessarily fashion people. That was the first one we did. We were imagining the girls and what they were wearing and the huge wigs. And when we saw the collection we were so happy because it was more than what we expected; because we had only seen just one wig that had been sitting in Charlie's living room. And when we saw the videos live, with the girls and the music, we were really really proud of Charlie.
Do you guys do anything else besides music? Can you say that you do music full time now?
Caroline: Oh yeah. We are so happy.
How long ago was it that you had day jobs, where you had to go and do shitty jobs that you didn't want to do?
Caroline: I'm working for 11 years non-stop, I start when I was 16. And I just finished working 1 year ago, something like this. Then we just decide to just do music. And we are more poor now! [laughs]
In it for the love!
Caroline: Yes! Like, we did a show in LA and we had chicos driving over the border to see us, with their bandanas and their guns. Maybe 2000 chicanos, and we were so proud and happy for that, and everybody comes with all the family from the ghetto to a guy with body guards...
That says so much about your music; for that range of people to connect with it, it's amazing. Ok, you'll probably hate this, but do you get the whole Crystal Castles comparison?
Caroline: Yes of course, it is normal. Because they get really famous really...
Orion: - quick.
Caroline: Yeah, with the Klaxons tour and blahblahblah and then it's one day in the computer, and for us it's really cheesy electro stuff - cause 8-bit for me is really bleeeeuuurgh! And I fucking hate guys with gameboys. It was in 2002 that Kap Bambino had our first release. I mean, we do this first! But I understand why they became huge in America and the comparisons - they are a boy and girl, and the girl go crazy on stage. I mean, in Europe and in Germany, this kind of stuff exist aaaages ago. We respect people from micro music - all the real guys of this music and this real family they are fucking amazing. But now with myspace you can have maybe 2500 friends and you call yourself 'electronic music' with gameboys and you dress up like whatever...we changed our music categorisation to push people to think about what it is - is it electro, break core, black metal...I mean, they stole a bit what we do, cause we released this music six years ago and we've been doing this for eight years already. And with American people; Crystal Castles are much more understandable for them. We have friends in Chicago who have seen Crystal Castles and they always refuse to play with them because they think, "What the fuck - we know a tiny band who have been doing this more truly already". And I think, you know, fuck off, because we do this just for the music and not for anything else.
I think you're right about the American thing.
Caroline: Crystal Castles make music that is easy to access for kids I think. I imagine when I was 14 and I couldn't find a tiny band like Kap Bambino in the middle of nowhere with limited information, but actually now with iphones and myspace and all that, the kids in America - I mean, Crystal Castles, they have looots of press. And I just hope people recognise our music. Well, it's too late now, they [Crystal Castles] are already fucking famous! [laughs] It's weird because they've become huge. I mean, good for them! But I don't want to be huge. I just want to do music.
And exclusively for I M // U R, here's the catwalk mix that Kap Bambino did for Charlie Le Mindu. WERK your way around that!