Since 1994, French DJ, producer, and vocalist Miss Kittin has been one of the more dynamic figures in dance music, producing hit albums with long-time musical partner The Hacker and various collaborations with Felix Da Housecat, like electroclash anthem "Silver Screen (Shower Scene)." This coming spring, she releases her third solo album, Calling From The Stars, and is in the process of producing her first-ever solo live show. We recently spoke with Miss Kittin about her new album, fashion, and her advocacy for gay marriage in France. She DJs Obey the Kitty at Vessel this Wednesday, Jan. 30.
Calling From The Stars is the first album you wrote and produced yourself. How did it feel to have free reign on everything?
It felt damn good to be able to make music on my own. I didn't know I could for a long time. Until I started to work on some sketches that turned out to be good the way they were. It gave me a lot of self-confidence.
Why did you decide to release it as a two-disc compilation, rather two separate albums?
At first there was only the first part. But on the side I was working on ambient material I kept for a possible project under another name. I decided to join these two elements, as I thought it was interesting to bring people back to electronica, a genre quite forgotten that I cherish particularly. I am pretty sure this second part will stay in the memories more than the first one.
The first one is openly pop; I am trying to write pop music with electronic sounds. The second one is more introspective, contemplative.
What was the idea behind releasing the free EP Life Is My Teacher as a preview to the album?
I had the idea of the title while giving an interview, answering the same damn question: What inspires me. Life inspires me. Life is my teacher. It describes very well my philosophy. The track is voluntarily minimal, nothing much happens in it, to let the vocals be upfront. When the idea of an album came to life, I was thinking about giving the full LP for free. But new partners came in the picture and it was impossible to do it, for now! It was important to thank the fans for their support. This track was perfect for it.
How does it connect to Calling From the Stars?
The whole project has a strong spiritual meaning. My life is through music. Music reflects who you are when you do it. If you are connected to yourself, you are connected to the world. This track in particular was made for my friend Gesaffelstein. He sent me the music quite a while ago. I know his dark side, and I wanted to sing him a night ballad, something peaceful, for the moment just before you fall asleep. He didn't want to release the track, so I asked him if I could take it for the album and it became the title of the LP.
How do you think your own vocals and lyrics have evolved and grown from your first single to your latest, "Life is My Teacher?"
Well, from "Suck My Dick Kiss My Ass" to "Life is My Teacher," it's obvious. When I wrote "Frank Sinatra," we were young and punks, taking a piss at a world we saw coming, the DJ star system. I am still taking a piss but now I am part of it! How ironic that song brought me into it. It would be a shame [if] I would still write the same stupid lyrics about fame and glamor. It was cool in '96, I was the first one, but I quickly moved on, especially after working with people like Felix Da Housecat who wanted to do their "Frank Sinatra" too. That's why we took a break with Hacker after the word "electroclash" appeared, not to become a caricature of ourselves. I was so right to focus on DJing, it kept me free. Traveling around the world changes you forever. What a life. That's what I want to talk about, life, experiences, and emotions.
What's something you're constantly learning in your musical career?
Humility, definitely. As I said, traveling around the world is the best school. You see people living different lives, and we are the same human beings. It teaches you tolerance. Playing in front of thousands of people every weekend doesn't make you more important than the women you can meet on a road in Peru, for example. I come back home and I am so thankful to have lived such moments, seen places I never thought I would ever go to. The more I see, the more I think I have so much to learn. I really mean it. This is endless inspiration. And nothing is for granted. My career could stop tomorrow too, so I enjoy every single day of it.
You've always been known as an upbeat and fun personality throughout your career. How have you managed to maintain the same philosophy and outlook on dance music with trends and looks changing so fast?
That's my personality; I don't really care about trends, honestly. I was never aware of my image. I focus on doing what I like to do, what I am good at, and have a good life. It's quite a piece of work, so there's not much time for staring at myself in the mirror, so to speak. Basically, you can't please everyone, there will always be people who don't like what you do or who you are, so you'd better be yourself. That's why it's not a difficult thing for me; it's simply natural, even if sometimes it's not easy not to listen to what people say. New generations are coming; I am over excited to listen to new great music, as a music lover. And as a DJ it's my job to listen to what's happening, buy new tracks regularly, go and listen to new artists in clubs or concerts. Thank god the scene is evolving all the time, it's healthy. I don't try to be "the new sensation" or stay young, it would be useless anyway. I am from the past already, but I am still here and I am lucky.
Your fashion sense has always been a hit as well. Who are some current fashion designers that you're digging?
I live in Paris, so it's easy to be aware of fashion. It's at every corner. I like Balenciaga, Alexander Wang or Miu Miu, but most of all, I love to buy cheap things that look stunning. It's my favorite fashion sport! Talking about San Francisco, you have the best make-up creators here. Brands like Two Faced or Urban Decay are the best makeup to party. I am a makeup expert; I dance and sweat so I know what I am talking about! If they hear me and have spare products, I am ready!
We've also noticed you've also been very vocal on your social media networks in supporting gay marriage in France. What makes you so passionate about this cause?
Because we are in 2013! It's unacceptable for a country like France to be so conservative. I don't see where the problem is for two people the same sex not to get married. It's a natural position for me. It's more the people against it that are strange, don't you think? Besides the fact I have many gay friends, and that's not the point, I would prefer to have gay parents still together than divorced parents or single parent. I have no memory of my parents being together; they split when I was 1. I don't have kids, but I would prefer to have a kid with a gay man rather than a hetero who wouldn't be a good dad.
Lastly, will we be able to hear any new materials in your set this upcoming Wednesday at Obey the Kitty?
As a DJ, I rarely play my own stuff because there are so many incredible tracks at the moment I prefer to play. I also don't really compose club music. I just want people to dance, so I play what I find the best tracks for it. It's rarely mine though!