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Crystal Fighters

A multinational group with a nomadic sound, Crystal Fighters unite electronic music, pop, and traditional music from around the world in celebratory ways. Basque music and instrumentation provided the heart of their energetic style on their 2010 debut album Star of Love, but they soon incorporated Latin and African elements -- as well as dubstep -- on 2013's acclaimed sophomore effort Cave Rave. Crystal Fighters' horizons and reference points expanded on each of their releases, with tropical and psychedelic influences coloring 2016's Everything Is My Family and 2019's globe-trotting mixtape Gaia & Friends featuring collaborators from South Africa, Colombia, and Chile. On 2023's LIGHT+, the group added cumbia, among other styles, to their festive musical melting pot. Prior to forming Crystal Fighters, London-based guitarist/vocalist Sebastian Pringle, multi-instrumentalist Gilbert Vierich, and guitarist Graham Dickson worked together on various projects. They were soon joined by vocalists Mimi Borrelli and Laure Stockley, the latter of whom recovered the diary of her late, reclusive grandfather while visiting his Basque country home. Inside the diary were notes for an incomplete opera called Crystal Fighters. Taking the title as the project's name, the band used the opera as inspiration for their own songs. They also incorporated Basque instruments into their music, including the txalaparta, a wooden chromatic percussion instrument akin to a xylophone, and the txistu, a pipe whistle. Crystal Fighters released their first single, "I Love London," in 2008. Praised by music blogs, it became the only unreleased track to be named one of Mixmag's Top 100 Tunes in 2008, and was frequently remixed and played throughout the European club circuit. That year, the band signed to the French fashion and music label Kitsuné, which issued their next single Xtatic Truth in May of 2009. Several other singles, including "In the Summer," were released before the band's debut album, Star of Love, arrived in October 2010 (the same year drummer Andrea Marongiu joined the fold). The album's distinctive mix of folk and dance music resulted in it making the Top Ten of the U.K. Dance Albums Chart. While Crystal Fighters embarked on a lengthy world tour, a deluxe edition of Star of Love featuring acoustic tracks and other bonus material appeared in mid-2011; the following year saw the release of Star of Love Remixes. In April 2012, Star of Love was officially released in North America. When Crystal Fighters recorded its second album, the band's lineup consisted of Pringle, Vierich, and Dickson, who decamped to Los Angeles to work with producer Justin Meldal-Johnson. The result was the more streamlined Cave Rave, which was released in May 2013. Incorporating dubstep and entirely electronic tracks while adding instruments from Africa and South America, the album fared well with critics and on the charts. It reached number nine on Australia's Hitseekers Albums Chart, number 20 on the U.K. Indie Albums Chart, and number 27 on the Top Heatseekers Albums Chart in the U.S. Following the album's release, Crystal Fighters held a Cave Rave event in the Basque countryside. In 2014, the band released the single "Love Alight," which had been recorded during the Cave Rave sessions, and played shows in Australia, Europe, South Africa, and North America. Following Marongiu's death from heart failure that September, Crystal Fighters honored his memory with several songs on October 2016's Everything Is My Family. Written and recorded in locales including the Canary Islands, Los Angeles, and London, the album added psychedelic and tropical sounds to their repertoire. After touring the world for the better part of two years, the band returned in 2018 with the single "Boomin' In Ya Jeep" and Hypnotic Sun, an EP featuring a collaboration with Bomba Estéreo. That group, along with Petite Noir, and Soledad Vélez, also contributed to Crystal Fighters' next release, the March 2019 mixtape Gaia & Friends. Among their performances that year was Wave Rave, a one-day festival in the Bay of Biscay that aimed to raise awareness of sustainability and clean water. In 2021, Crystal Fighters issued a trio of NFTs that paired artwork from Everything Is My Family with audio by the group. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Crystal Fighters worked on their fourth album from the members' various locations (Pringle was in Colombia, Vierich was in the U.K., and Dickson was in the U.S.). The time away from touring allowed them to reignite their passion for creating music, and they drew from cumbia, tropical pop, and rave for November 2023's LIGHT+, which featured contributions from Charlie Hugall, Luke Smith, Ghost Culture, and FYFE.
© Heather Phares /TiVo


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