On the eve of her sixth album release, the French star talks EDM, electroclash, punk, and the genre trap.
“What is EDM, seriously?” asks Miss Kittin with not a hint of sarcasm in her French lilt. “I don’t really know. Is it that the big music that is played at Ultra in Miami, like Deadmau5, Skrillex?”
The very savvy Kittin, born Caroline Herve, knows better than most how much naming can affect the growth of a genre. To some, she’s a refugee from a scene that never truly happened: Electroclash, an early-2000s, hipster-ized version of electro, informed by the theater of New York City club kids.
But Kittin herself has always looked forward. Later this month, she’ll release the epic, double-disc “Calling From The Stars,” her sixth studio album. Its 23 tracks contain the backroom electro grinders and fashionably spooky, dark techno trips for which she’s known. But there are also floaty bits like “Eleven” (“On a scale of 10 / We are 11”), which CODE has for you as a free download below. Its reverberating pads have an ominous Michael Myers quality. But Kittin’s vocal is downright ethereal.
“We were doing electroclash before the word existed,” she says of her early days. “We just called it electro. Electro for me goes back to Grandmaster Flash. It’s this rhythm [taps out a syncopated beat]. Then ‘electro’ was used to describe dance music and I was confused. It took me awhile to realize it was being used for something else.”
Kitten’s 2001 collaborations with Felix Da Housecat for his album “Kittenz And Thee Glitz” – particularly the single “Silver Screen Shower Scene” – sparked global imaginations and put electroclash on the map. But quick commodification, including a million-dollar Ministry of Sound record deal for its poster-band Fischerspooner, killed the scene before it had a chance to stand on its own.
“I always compare what happened to electroclash to what happened to punk,” she says. “Punk was happening and it was called simply rock ‘n’ roll. Then Legs McNeil wrote this fanzine called ‘Punk,’ and Malcolm McLaren came and took the name and made the Sex Pistols, and punk died with that. It’s the same with electroclash. I also think it didn’t happen because it was too early. If Fischerspooner would come now, they would explode. If you look at Madonna’s show, even Britney [Spears’] or Black Eyed Peas’, it could be Fischerspooner.”
While Kittin enjoys a solid career as a DJ and live artist in Europe, she’s still interested in the strangely evolving, perpetually difficult market of America. It’s a testament to her own artistic curiosity.
“I never thought that my music would touch so many people here,” she says. “I have a totally different audience than in Europe. For example, I can have metal people, rock people, punks, gays, little clubbers, hipsters, older people, and they all come together because electroclash merged a lot of genres. People who were listening to New Wave, Depeche Mode and stuff like that, they recognized themselves in it. People from the rock side liked the harder stuff; the clubbers found that vocals could have a space in this boring music. That’s what is so interesting.”
True to her word, “Stars” has a little something for all of those disparate folks. It’s out April 22 on French label wSphere.