Miss Kitten and Muscle from the Margins

by Matthew Bedard

We’ve all, more or less, been there: daylight sneakily pouring over us; the beat, despite its dissolve perhaps a couple hours prior, still pumping designer this-and-thats through our limbs; new friends, disconnected from their outset crew now cozily glommed onto yours; the new assurance that sleep is a myth cooked up by the profit machine and really, we’re over the hump now and who needs bed? And then there are the others. The up-and-at-’ems, the nine-to-fivers, the lum lums, the joggers, the doggers, the urban loggers, all not seeing this very break of day with the same dilated pupils, with the heightened sense of purpose brought about by the rave in which we trust, all of them so boring. Fear instills.

“Is this the world in which I must return?”

Miss Kittin, French electro queen and occasional resident of Los Angeles’ Silverlake, here today at Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel to discuss her new record, Calling From The Stars (on Wagram affiliated wSphere), knows this pivotal feeling very well. And yet Miss Kittin, or Caroline Hervé, has fundamentally, for as long as she can recall, rejected this workaday set, never having felt akin with the streams of main. And so, a charmed career built on an imperative, she stays comfortably on the fringe.

Today, while sun cascades o’er the pool and Chardonnay flows, the stylish crooner sweetly shares on her toe-dipping here and there that’s made this fringe-dwelling a reality, as well as the sanctity of intuition, the energy necessitated in collaboration, and why her star calling might have much to do with the fact that she’s long been in radical orbit.

Aspects of your world are very much about a scene and sort of what’s ‘en vogue’ or what’s trendy. Do you ever feel nostalgic for a particular scene or are you open to its evolution? No. Never nostalgic. Never. I have great memories, but when I think about these great memories, let’s say, the free parties—the rave parties, the illegal parties in my area, when we were partying in the forest and trying to hide from the police—I could be nostalgic of that because it was real, the real party. Things that people with money could never experience and pure fun. Wild. And why these particular moments? Because they changed my life. Because after partying in the forest with your friends and this crazy music and these big trees, you go home and you cross people on the street who go to work and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, how can I go back to the world as it was before I lived that?’ And I was like, ‘I will have to work my ass off to be free—to write my own path.’ And I did. So no, I’m not nostalgic and I think we are living in a great moment for music. There are amazing young talents, much more educated musically than us—because of technology, but also because some come from, let’s say Soul Clap, for example, or Nicolas Jaar in New York. I  talk about the American scene. They learn jazz; they know how to play instruments and I never knew how to do that. So I’m very amazed by them and when I play with such people I feel small like they know more than I ever knew. I have the experience of age; I survived different musical eras, but as an artist, as a musician, I feel very small still. And I like that.

You’ve always been into collaborations, like with your upcoming tour’s art direction with artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster. What are the tenants of this energy for collaboration? Well, for example, I met Felix da Housecat at a festival in Switzerland. We had just released Frank Sinatra, and I was far from imagining anyone knew about it. It was very underground. Felix didn’t pay attention to me—it was nearly rude—until a common friend said, “Yeah, it’s Miss Kittin.” I never expected him to know my name and he freaked out; he called everybody in Chicago, ‘Oh my god, I’m with the girl who wrote ‘Frank Sinatra.’” I was like, “How did you know that song?” and he’s like, “It’s fucking huge!” So, when we went to the studio, I had nothing to lose. Yeah, he was legendary, but did I give a fuck? I was just having fun with another musician that I admire, but we were equal in the studio—we were all there with our energy and ideas. I remember I was freaking out; I thought he was very lazy—he was sleeping all the time; he was checking emails—e-mails had just started at the time. But then he stands up, he goes to the synthesizer and he writes a crazy bass line and the track is there. This is also what I learned—you don’t have to be a computer expert to make a hit. You can just come up on the synthesizer, press one key and make a track. So, this really spontaneous energy helped me a lot.

How do you feel like that energy and these sort of spontaneous accidents—as well as not having a complex going into the studio with others—have culminated in the new album? The more you learn that intuition drives you all the time and how unconnected this society bred us to be; being an artist is the straight way to get connected again, back to intuition. You have to learn that. So now that I’m grown up as an artist and as a human being, I know well who I am—I know well my intuition. I do still have issues with insecurity like everybody; most artists are insecure by definition.

Has that intuition made you more comfortable with being in a more underground or smaller scale crowd or market? It’s easy for me because that’s who I am and I do what I know. I wouldn’t be good at making mass hits. I don’t know how to do it. People say “I want to be famous”; I reply “I want to be free.” Unfortunately big success on a big scale doesn’t work with freedom. You think it is, but the more success you have the more expectations people have, the more trapped you are in your image—to stay fit, to be skinny, to eat well—and you have all these people around you, this entourage, you cannot go and buy a bottle of milk. Worse than that. If I were able to do that, I would have done it. Simply. I’m not criticizing it; I’m just objective.

And has there ever been a community that you feel like you wanted to be a part of and have never been, or have tried and haven’t figured out how to be, or missed the opportunity or something else was happening? At school. Like, most of the youngsters, you want to be part of something. I tried. It never worked. As far as I remember, I had many friends in many groups, but I was never completely part of them. And when I talk to other artists, especially female, we’ve been through the same thing. And when I see all the boys with their big egos, so at ease at the parties with the girls—yes, I sometimes I have this old school feeling to say, “Ay, I want to be part of it too,” but for five seconds because if I would be part of that, at the same exact moment I would want to be out of it. And that’s what Loco Dice told me, because we have been friends for a very, very long time. He said, “What I like about you is that you’re in and you’re out.” So I go to a party, I’m in, and I can freak out, I can get wasted, and then I’m out—I’m with my friends on the sofa watching TV, walking my dog, going at nine in the morning to the movies.

And stick to that bass-heavy intuition, right? Yeah, who knows? You can’t say really. Life can turn within five minutes. Your life can be totally transformed so I’m up for it. There is no resistance whatsoever. I just want to keep myself excited by little things, by music, by anything. And for this you need time, you need standstill as well. You can’t always travel this way forever. I still love traveling—I’m hooked on it—but it would be nice to travel standing still. Maybe with tele-transportation you can do it.

Photographer: Edouard Plongeon at Edouardplongeon.com.

Stylist: Hala Moawad.