On April 19th of this year, Ballantine’s and Boiler Room unveiled their first True Music: Hybrid Sounds event. Featuring a host of local and regional talents like Maii & Zeid, 3LIAS, and Jad Taleb along with foreign headliners from New Zealand, The Netherlands and France such as Chaos In The CBD, Doll Kraut and Caroline Hervé, better known as Miss Kittin. Hervé was on closing duties that night, and for good reason.
The French artist’s electroclash/techno set stole the show, full steam ahead from the get go with Miss Kittin not shying away from grabbing the mic and adding her own vocals to Nina Kraviz’s “Ghetto Kraviz” and seminal track “Frank Sinatra” alongside The Hacker, with whom she’s often regarded as one of the pioneers of the electroclash sound. We caught up with Miss Kittin after the show and discussed what she’s up to, her musical background, life in industry 20 years into it, her thoughts on the Ballentine’s True Music: Hybrid Sounds concept and more.
Hey Miss Kittin, thanks for your time. What are you up to these days?
Gardening, horse riding, and finishing my next LP.
What’s your musical background? Your music sounds like you were involved in punk rock.
If I was older, punk indeed! But unfortunately I grew up in the 80’s and got into new wave, industrial, 80’s pop, and post punk by definition, like The Clash, Suicide etc. I also read a lot about Punk, with Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil being one of my favorite books. The real punk died with The Sex Pistols. This reminds me a lot of what we experienced with electroclash - it died with Fischerspooner!
What makes you stand out as an artist after 20 years in the industry?
Being too pop for the underground and too underground for the pop industry. I never felt like I found my place, but kept on doing what I do no matter what people say. I worked hard, stayed focused, open minded, behaved respectfully, and always considered that it could end any day.
While some identify you as the creator/influencer of electroclash, how do you associate yourself with the genre?
It’s a joke between The Hacker and I. We were never comfortable with the term, but we went with it without complaints! From our perspective, we were influenced by Aphex Twin, the whole Detroit scene like Dopplereffekt, Aux 88, Juan Atkins, Jeff Mills, Ectomorph, Adult and the Den Haag scene like I-F. Some of these people deserve the credit.
You’ve been a performing artist for over 20 years. How would you say your relationship with the available technology has evolved?
It’s easier to make music, but more complicated at the same time. I use this technology in a very simple way, I am not a geek, I am a song writer. Somehow I have to keep the process simple otherwise I lose my inspiration and get lost in the machines.
The industry is moving back towards analogue gear. What are your thoughts?
Analog has more groove. Especially after getting lost in technology you have go back to the roots - you sync a few devices together and it rolls. Especially with techno, it’s very easy to make it this way - you turn a few buttons and it has soul. But you need to have a very big sound quality at the end otherwise it really sounds too retro and lazy.
Take us through your workflow with The Hacker.
The roles are well defined. He does the music, I put my vocals on it. It has always been this way. He usually composes thinking about my voice. We don’t really need to be in the same room anymore, I can record and cut vocals on my side and send him the files ready to go, but we want to go back to our first times being together in the studio and recording everything live, no cuts.
How has your sound evolved as a musician since you first started making music?
It evolved as I did. I grew up, I don’t have the same things to say as when I started, and it’s a good thing. I could not do the same exact thing twice, it’s simply impossible. So I am constantly moving on. I don’t know if I make better music, but the process is more conscious, more faithful, and still spontaneous.
What are your thoughts about the True Music concept? Do you think if you were involved, you could inspire musicians to craft a new sound?
I never heard about the True Music concept, but it’s the second time I was asked. It’s kind of ridiculous, the goal of just creating something new. You make music to express a vision, what you have inside. Then and only then, maybe your vision could be revolutionary, but it shouldn’t be the aim of it. I think it’s some kind of ego concept, to leave a trace. That’s not my belief. You are an artist because you have no choice, you have an urge to express who you are. Maybe that’s the definition of true music, from a woman’s point of view.
Musicians get sometimes too inspired to the point that they tend to copy. How do you avoid this and still be original?
History is a succession of copy and paste. Unless you live in a cave, you can’t help it. It is a problem when the result is just a duplicate. It’s probably a question of personality: are you adventurous and brave enough to get inspired by someone to transform and transcend it into your own thing? I suppose I’m too independent, I couldn’t live with myself copying. I am too busy finding who I am, still. It’s a rocky path, painful, to never fit in, but it’s the only one I know.