Aug 10, 2008

Crystal Castles

Crystal Castles is a Toronto-based band, consisting of multi-instrumentalist Ethan Kath and vocalist Alice Glass. Crystal Castles are known not only for their own efforts as a band, but also for commissioned remixes for a number of groups, including "Hunting for Witches" by Bloc Party, and "Atlantis to Interzone" by friends, Klaxons.


Crystal Castles, named after the Crystal Castle from the She-Ra franchise despite never actually watching the show, formed in December 2003 as a project started by Ethan Kath. In April 2005, Alice Glass recorded vocals for five original instrumentals by Kath. The band's first single was recorded "accidentally": a microphone test by Glass was released through MySpace as "Alice Practice" in September 2005. Glass was not aware that it had been used until record companies heard the song and contacted the duo to offer them record deals.

Since the release of "Alice Practice", the duo announced plans to release their first full-length album on Last Gang Records, which was released in North America on 18 March 2008 and released in the UK on 28 April 2008.


Crystal Castles have toured Europe and the USA numerous times since 2006, including a US tour with Australian, electronic group, The Presets in February 2007. The band also played at the Reading and Leeds Festivals in England, August 2007 and were set to play the CMJ Festival October 2007. They supported Metric on certain dates throughout their North American tour in September and October 2007 and also headlined Vice Magazine's UK tour in November 2007 called Unitaur, which also featured These New Puritans and The Teenagers.

In May 2008, Crystal Castles headlined the UK's NME New Noise tour along with Friendly Fires, Team Waterpolo and White Lies.

Crystal Castles performed at the Glastonbury Festival in June 2008, where the on-stage antics of Glass which included her climbing the stage rigging and constantly stage-diving, led to the organisers curtailing their set. Crystal Castles are set to tour with Nine Inch Nails in dates across July and August 2008. Crystal Castles are also set to play various European summer festivals including England's Reading & Leeds Festivals. Then were expected to return to the UK in September 2008 for a headlining tour but had to cancel due to recording commitments. Instead they will play a handful of dates as a warm-up for their festival dates.


Crystal Castles are featured in Season 2 of the English television show Skins in which they perform live at a concert two of the characters, Sid & Tony attend.

Copyright disputes

In mid-2008, Crystal Castles was involved in controversies related to sampling and artwork permissions. Pitchfork Media and The Torontoist published stories about Crystal Castles' use of Trevor Brown's artwork without permission. The image, depicting a black-eyed Madonna, was used by the band on merchandise, after being found on an "old flyer, without credit", with the hope "that the artist might reveal themselves and make contact". The issue remains unresolved. The band also allegedly incorporated samples taken from the chiptune community without credit in several of their songs released on Myspace, such as "Insecticon", which apparently uses chopped up samples from a song by Lo-bat called, "My Little Droid Needs a Hand" (released under a Creative Commons license), and "Love and Caring", which apparently samples the kick and snare from Covox's "Sunday". Pitchfork published an article in defense of the band, saying that the band had never released the songs nor performed them and thus were not responsible for breaking the Creative Commons licensing on the songs.

Musical style

Crystal Castles' music is easily recognized by their heavy use of samples and distorted female vocals. Crystal Castles claims to use a modified keyboard that uses an Atari 5200 sound chip as an oscillator. Their musical style has been described as having "ferocious, asphyxiating sheets of warped two-dimensional Gameboy glitches and bruising drum bombast pierce [the] skull with sheer shrill force, burrowing deep into the brain like a fever". Indie music review website, Pitchfork, gave a positive review of Crystal Castles' remix of "Leni" by GoodBooks, and described the style as "pitch-shifted vocal snippets [that] ricochet like pinballs around Crystal Castles' patented 8-bit synths".

Band Members

* Ethan Kath - Instruments / Production
* Alice Glass - Vocals


Studio albums

* Crystal Castles (March 18, 2008) - Lies Records / Last Gang Records (UK #47)
* Remix Album (TBC) - TBC
* Untitled Second Album (2009) - TBC

Singles and EPs

* Alice Practice 7" EP (June 01, 2006) - Merok Records (ME002)

* Limited edition of 500 copies. Sold out in three days.

* "Crimewave" 7" (Crystal Castles vs. HEALTH) (August 13, 2007) - Trouble Records
* "Crystal Castles/HEALTH 7" (September 18, 2007) - Lovepump United Records (LPU013)
* "Air War" 7" (December 17, 2007) - Trouble Records (TROUBLE001)
* "Courtship Dating/Tell Me What To Swallow" (March 31, 2008)


* Live at Glastonbury 2008 EP (2008)

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