Q&A: Miss Kittin
- Words: Vivian Host
A special interview with electro doyenne Miss Kittin.
XLR8R: What's one record that changed your life or changed the way you thought about music?
Miss Kittin: Probably Chill Out from KLF and all the first Warp releases like LFO, Artficial Intelligence 1. Before that, I wasn't really listening to music consciously. Music was linked with "entertainment" and suddenly I could feel it through my cells, intellectualize it, analyze it, digest it emotionally. It became therapeutic, but also made me think forward; a new world opened. Coming back from illegal rave parties in the early '90s, I would lay down with friends and listen to these records. Yeah, we were high, but we knew this music was the start of something big in music and in a more spiritual way, with machines.
Did you ever have a moment in which you considered quitting DJing?
I often try to imagine quitting, and it doesn't scare me. I could do a lot of other creative things. I could finally write the book I am planning to write one day; I could be a full-time composer and produce other people; I could coach future artists; I could have a radio show. I could do a lot of things! It's a healthy way to keep this free love relationship I have with music. I seriously considered quitting a few years ago when people started to consider DJs as superstars. It made my working conditions very difficult. I would DJ with bodyguards because people would steal my microphone when I would turn my back to take a record, or they would always need to touch or talk to me when I was DJing. I hate that; it has nothing to do with what DJing is. Recently, [me and producer] The Hacker talked about going back onstage for good and DJing only as a hobby. That's more or less how we see our future now.
Were you ever nervous when you started doing vocals/singing? If so, what did you do to get over it?
I am always nervous. If I am not, it's not a good sign. It shows I don't give a shit, and I'll play bad. I learned to welcome this nervousness as a little friend who gives me the extra power to do my best. I need quiet, relaxed people around me, because people "feeling" for me will only get on my nerves more! That's why I need peace in the DJ booth, like a champion before a game.
How was the mood in the studio different when you were making Batbox than your last album?
During the last one, my life was a mess... I had no distance whatsoever with what I was doing. I was just doing it, traveling, playing, sleeping, eating, being with the wrong friends, away from what I really needed. But you have to get lost like that to find who you are. I can turn back and say I am more serene, more relaxed, and have a better quality of life. I worked hard to make it easier now. But it's a hard process, you have to ask yourself a lot of questions, and this album talks exactly about that. I made it when I had free time, no stress, just fun. In life, don't you think it should be like that?
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
To never listen to what people say. Laurent Garnier gave it to me in '94 when I got my first international gig. Mike Dearborn booked me in Chicago after I opened for him at a small party in France. I was not famous at all, and everybody thought I had sex with Mike. Some colleagues, today totally forgotten, even offered me condoms. I was so pissed. I asked Laurent if it was on the 8 o'clock news that I played in Chicago. He was the only one to say that I deserved this gig and warned me there will always be a lot jealousy.
Besides your house, where is your favorite place in Paris?
Probably my friend's sofa... Sometimes I go to there in pajamas and fall asleep in front of the TV.
What band or artist were you obsessed with as a teenager?
None really... My dad bought me Madonna's first album. He thought I was really into her.
What is the most annoying question you get asked by journalists?
The “woman in a male music business” thing.
What is the weirdest thing you own?
My alarm clock, a Japanese pink pig lifting weights with a melody to wake me up. It's a present from my mother that we bought together in a Spanish 99¢ shop. It's probably the oldest thing I have as well.
What is the most beautiful thing in your house?
The view, the terrace... I am very lucky, I have light everywhere—a real luxury in Paris.
Do you have any pets, and what are their names?
I have two female cats, Wednesday and Friday. They live with my ex -boyfriend.
Who is your favorite visual artist?
Today, it's Helmut Newton.
Who is your favorite superhero?
What track are you most proud of on Batbox?
“Grace.” It came to me in a graceful moment, magical. I am proud it was me, but it could have been someone else. This feeling of being an instrument ourselves is very rare.
What's one record made by someone else that you wish you would have made?
I never thought about it. What comes to my mind now is Johnny Cash American Recordings. More ambitious? The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s. It's not like I am a huge fan, but I grew up with this record, and even if I always found it much too hippie, the recording ideas are just genius. They surely wrote the most incredible songs for their time. One song? Maybe Elvis Presley's “Suspicious Minds.” For a more current record, I would say “Windowlicker” by Aphex Twin, no hesitation.
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