By Erkki Rautio / pHinnWeb
17 January, 2001
Miss Kittin, a.k.a. Caroline Herve from Grenoble, recently made waves with her two EPs alongside the partner-in-crime The Hacker (a.k.a. Michael Amato) for International Deejay Gigolos label, that have already gained a cultish status among techno and nu-electro fans everywhere, with the raunchy reading of 'Frank Sinatra' and a cover version of Eurythmics' 'Sweet Dreams', among all.
In occasion of her & The Hacker's visit to Finland in January 2001, here Miss Kittin talks to pHinnWeb about her two careers, both as a performing chanteuse and a hard-working DJ, and of course, the death of Ol' Blue Eyes...
- I understood you will do a live performance in Turku, Finland, but you are a DJ also. What can we expect from your live set, and how do think performing live is different to DJing?
You will see a nurse singing and a guy in the dark behind his keyboard never smiling... It's low-tech, we use a DAT for the special instrumental version, because it's impossible to bring our analogue machines and because it's a show, nobody cares but me behind a microphone... The music? I don't know...
In a live set, all the tracks are done, we can't modify it, there's no surprise for us but the improvisations I can develop with the audience. But I have much more fun playing records, I have done it for 6 years now, and I can take risks record after record: you develop something in 2 hours instead of playing something planned in 30 minutes during a live set... In a live, you also have to play a role, with all my body, but as a DJ, I'm totally myself and I'm proud of it. I don't like to play roles...
- Do you have any role models or other people who have influenced you?
If you mean in the music, you have to ask The Hacker. I was not into New Wave and stuff. But in general, I get inspiration from everything and everybody around me, a woman in the bus, my Yoga teacher, my cats, the book I'm reading... But I never tried to go into the same direction as someone else, like if I had an idol. But if I have to choose someone, I would definitely say Madonna. I admire her, that's all.
- Tell me something about the process when you write your tracks with The Hacker? And where do you get the ideas or inspiration from?
The Hacker prepares loops at home in Grenoble. When I go there (I live in Geneva, 1.30 hours from Grenoble), we build the track together and when he's making the balance, I write my lyrics. Then, we make a test and we often record the track in one shot. It has to be quickly done and fresh; if not, it's not fun and not good. We have enough complicity, not to interfere too much in the role of the other and that's great because we are independent from each other. The inspiration comes from what we think about at the present time.
It has to be something funny or ironic, because it makes us laugh a lot.
- Especially I'd like to know about your song 'Frank Sinatra', that indeed made me prick up my ears, when I first heard it. Something against the "Ol' Blue Eyes"...? (Don't get me wrong, though, it's my favourite.)
I love Frank Sinatra and the American crooners and romantic jazz in general. I was looking for a rhyme to "area" and here it came. What you don't know, is when I said "He's dead", I really thought he was... A friend told me it was funny because he's still alive... I couldn't believe it and felt guilty, especially when he died three months later...
- Can you tell any interesting stories from your gigs? And what have been the best and worst places to perform at?
As a live act, every trip with The Hacker is funny... We had a lot of bad gigs and non-professional attitudes from technicians, stuff missing and so on... But it's more interesting to talk about THE ONE: Sonar 2000 with Gigolo. It really changed my perception about performing live because I realized I could be as good as crazy. I did something I thought I will never do: be on stage like a fish in the sea...
The Hacker likes Jennifer Lopez, so if you could find a girl who looks like her, just for the night, he would be grateful, but SHHHHH... he's shy...
- What about your co-operation with Chicks On Speed? You've performed with them (there's a version with you of their 'Euro Trash Girl' at chicksonspeed.com), so how it was to deal with them, and any nice Chix stories? Do you plan also getting together in the future?
The Chicks asked me to come on stage and sing in French in Zürich. First, with a friend, we did a joke, a big banner with a pro-Chick slogan very big. I met first KIKI, who was the stylist of our '1982' video. I call them the anti-Spice Girls! They would love to have something from us on their label. For the album of Felix Da HouseCat I worked on, Felix wanted them on a track but it didn't happen. I will probably work with them one day. There's lyrics I wanted to give them...
- There seems to be a recent wave of female artists doing a bit similar thing to you (CoS, Peaches, Nicola Kuperus of Adult., even Le Tigre or Lolita Storm), combining (sometimes lo-fi) electro/techno sounds with vocals that are either aggressive, subversive, ironic, raunchy, thought-provoking or so on. In a way that could be called something a bit similar to the female punk and new wave acts of 1970s/80s, except they have now "machines" instead of guitars. What do you think is happening here?
I don't know, I don't care. The only group I can tell that is really close to us is Adult. We spent time with them, a wife and a husband team, in Detroit. We are so similar... Except for the fact they make better music than us...
- You're from France, but are also familiar with Switzerland and Central Europe. Are there any discernible differences between the scenes in these countries, in between which you seem to shuttle all the time...?
I always travel to Germany, which is the top scene in the world. In France, I go only to visit my family and make music. I don't want to play there any more because I don't trust the audience, the promoters, it will be a step back for me. I know, I'm hardcore but that's the reality of 10 years of French political and cultural repression.
About Switzerland, I love this country. It's small, open-minded, secret, modern and full of different languages and traditions, and it's beautiful... The scene is more closed than in Germany but with more independent places like squats. Isn't that crazy for a country known for chocolate, clocks, cheese and banks????
- Can you tell anything about your forthcoming album on Gigolo Records we've been waiting for some time now?
It's been ready for some time now. I think it's cool!
- Your current Top Ten?
Thomas Brinkmann - Klicks - Max Ernst
Philippe Cam - LFO Drive - Traum
Adult. - Nausea - Ersatz Audio
Tuxedomoon - Heinrich Muller RMX What Use - Gigolo
Kollektiv - BPitch Control
Beroshima - The Pornographic Performance - Muller
Plastique de Reve - Gigolo 52
Kraftwerk - Francois K Expo remix - Kling Klang
Stacey Pullen - Black Odyssey - Black Flag
Swayzak - Ping Pong - Swayzak
- And how about your future plans?
My solo album with different artists I love. And plugging my home studio to work by myself.
- Finally, your favourite question no one ever asks in interviews?
Or maybe that I know how to count in Finnish till 10! Yksi, kaksi, kolme, neljä...
I have to tell you that my dad is married to a Finnish woman; I went to Finland a lot when I was a child, I love it so hard. I went to Tampere maybe 15 years ago, but I remember the big tower. I'm really happy to come back, especially in winter, and I'll see my family again after more than 10 years without seeing them...
Copyright © (for the text) pHinnWeb 2001.