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Damaged art school grads or the nü face of electronic music?

It’s no surprise that the success of Fischerspooner, New York’s best-known, most-loved nü-electro guerillas, may have moreto do with the group’s mythology than the actual music they produce. By their own admission, Fischerspooner is both an “art project” and a “popband,” though one can never be sure where one ends and the other begins. Educated at a Chicago art school and partially funded by Deitch Projects (a prestigious downtown New York City gallery), Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner sink their pedigreed fangs into performance-art deconstruction and explorations of pop culture much like Whitney’s finest Biennialists. “I am a prop,” says Spooner nonchalantly. “To me, it doesn’t matter whether I sing or I don’t sing. I’m creating an image of a pop star.”

Like many of their ’80s-influenced synth-pop cohorts, Fischerspooner play specific roles in the kitsch- and drama-accented world purposethey’re inventing: Fischer’s the classically-trained musician who sprinkles electro dust on the knobs to make them flutter with techno-pop magic, presses the button on the CD player at their performances, and misses interview times because he’s picking his child up from school; Spooner’s the arch conceptualist who spends hours discussing connections between classical “formulas of beauty,” turns his mic on at shows only long enough to utter lines like “Good night and fuck you!” and dodges questions about tabloid rumors linking him to Kylie Minogue.

Their infamous over-the-top performances at hipster enterprises like the David Bowie-curated Meltdown Festival in London and Larry Tee’s New York-spawned Electroclash festival underscore a damnably pretentious union of UK post-punk academia and overvalued New York ’80s art. When Spooner says “I’ll come up with a catch-phrase, like ‘ecstatic brutality,’ and I’ll give the choreographer a book of Bernini statues forinspiration,” in a discussion of the Fischerspooner creative process, or when Fischer adds that the group’s focus is to “exploit opportunitiesin both the pop and art worlds, develop something disposable and a little cliché,” it only heightens the contrast between who they are (art-school schlubs) and the medium in which they work (bubblegum pop).

Of course, a striking digital-pop mirage like their hit single “Emerge,” a damaged-disco statement-of-purpose that’s part Cabaret Voltaire, part Aqua, easily restores Fischerspooner’s Radio 1 rep, making them more multi-faceted–and more genuinely talented–than any pop-art project has a right to bein 2003. “It’s invigorating to collaborate with Kylie, make the Top 40 in England, perform on Top of the Pops on our own merits, ” says Fischer. “It’s exciting and thrilling in that it justifies the arc–the further we get, the more successful the art project is.” Spooner concurs, adding,”Some people will just like the music, or think it’s fun. Fischerspooner can be as superficial or meaningful as you want it to be.”