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Couture uniquely Velle.

 Imagine a conversation between
you and the unknown. Speak a language without words.
Say exactly what you mean with just one look.

como se llama
como se llama

Velle’s Exclusive
Couture Line

¿cómo se llama? asks the simple, yet complex question, “Who are you?”

Interested in the conversation that follows, we believe couture is the art of creating the aesthetic manifestation of who we are.

Who are you? Don’t tell us, show us…

Art Direction
Justin Gagne

Couture & Styling
Audi Lane

Modeling
Rena

Jewelry & Photography
Karen Gourley Lehman

Lighting
Per Hanson

Post Photo Aesthetics
& Retouching

Jeana Rosado with
Justin Gagne

Miss Kittin and The Hacker Photo by Vincent Flouret Miss Kittin and The Hacker Photo by Marc Zaffuto

Soundtracks by Miss Kittin and The Hacker.

We asked Caroline Hervé (aka Miss Kittin) and Michel Amato (aka The Hacker) to share their thoughts about music and fashion (snobbery & decay). Electroclash, electrocore or… I’d like to consider you the new, new romantics as your music reflects a sentiment for nostalgia, as well as a disinterest and distaste for many trends that are occurring culturally and socially. The future is here, yet the space age has become a funeral march for the death of an analogue, and the year and film 2010, no longer seem so futuristic.

1 What are your thoughts on this present future and where do you plan to take us if you record a third album?
MK: It’s important to integrate the past and future to be able to fully be in the present time. At the same time, living the moment fully is the only way to live the past and future in peace. That’s my main inspiration, what’s going on around me; an album isn’t always the reflection of who the artist is right here, right now. The Hacker has a more pessimistic and nostalgic way of thinking, but we balance each other! For sure we will record a 3rd album, but you need a breathing time before the last one, make space for a new creative process.
TH: I think something more minimal in terms of sounds, the album we released this year is very melodic, full of chords and harmony, for the next one i’d like to do something more radical, if Caroline is up for it. :-)
2 Is your version of Suspicious Minds a space age love song in disguise?
MK: It’s just an old cover we did back in the days, found it in our archive and made it fresher, better, it made sense without being obvious. Over the myth of Elvis, this song is a classic, beyond time, so in a way it’s already a space age song don’t you think?
TH: Could be, this cover we did, got us so many reactions; some love it, others hate it, I think it shows there is something strong in that song.
3 Can we expect a future track to feature The Hacker on vocals and Miss Kittin on electronics?
MK: Who knows… I’ve tried to make him sing through a vocoder at least, for years, but in vain so far…
TH: Caroline on electronics, no problem, but me on vocals - no way! I have to say I’ve already tried and I prefer to keep that only for me, I’m definitely not a singer.
4 What are the top three songs you’re currently listening to?
MK: Sebastien Tellier’s Roche. It’s not new, but I never get tired of it. Air, Earth. I love the lyrics “we belong to the Earth, doesn’t belong to us”. Siriusmo’s Gummiband, makes me smile and jump, my summer song.
TH: Desire’s Under Your Spell on Italians Do It Better, Escape From New York soundtrack by John Carpenter, Kas Product’s Never Come Back.
Miss Kittin and The Hacker Photo by Laurent Julliard Miss Kittin and The Hacker Photo by Marc Zaffuto

With acts like U2 becoming the soundtrack to advertisements for products such as the Blackberry and iPod, there seems to be a decline in the presentation and integrity of music. It’s as if modern music has become a sort of “Muzak”, ready for download anytime, anywhere, as background music to our lives.

5 Do you think there’s an aspect of music today that has merely become well-marketed elevator music?
MK: Obviously. There’s always brains to decide for the silent majority too lazy to think by themselves. As soon as everybody’s happy. When I see big house DJs getting inspiration into the minimal underground scene, take the formula, put a huge disco kick on it and make a club hit, it makes me smile! It’s just how it goes.
TH: If you’re in a major company yes, but if you’re indie like us, then you have the chance to present your music the way you want. We’re not here to sell ringtones for mobile phones, we’re musicians.
6 Do you believe in preserving the way the listener experiences your music whether it be on vinyl with an A and B side, a lo-fi mp3 download with or without cover artwork that’s the size of a matchbook or an album completely recorded for stereo headphones on an iPod, the way the British Electric Foundation recorded the cassette only album, Music for Stowaways, for the Walkman in 1980?
MK: You have to adapt to technology and use it to serve your art, if not, you’re not that professional or you don’t pay enough attention to your art. There’s many points of view, as an infinity of ways to create, then it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your art. If you’re in the mass market and you think a low MP3 is enough, fine. If you’re picky, you have the power to find the highest technical solution. It’s really up to you. As longs as you don’t let the market decide for you, any choice is respectable.
TH: For me (I’m 36) an album means buying an LP or a CD, I like the object, the cover, the artwork, etc. Buying MP3s is still strange for me, it’s so anonymous, I don’t feel like it’s buying music.
7 Is music fashion?
MK: For the ones who want. I am trying to keep Music as Music, it’s just my policy, what I think is sane for me. I am always scared when music becomes fashion, because it sometimes gets out of your control and you have to accept it. You can just resist in staying, for example, away from the spotlight.
TH: Yes, those two are linked, it’s obvious. It can be tricky, during the electroclash era we almost got trapped in that scene where fashion was more important than music, you have to find the right balance between the two.
8 What’s your favorite piece of clothing currently in your closet or that you want to be in your closet?
MK: Glitzy American Apparel leggings, I have them in all colors, great for performing, traveling, everyday living. All the rest, I have. I am trying to minimize my closet actually. I have all I need and I am not into expensive fashion things cause they are not practical for living.
TH: It’s not clothes, but it’s shoes, I have beautiful pair of Dior shoes!
9 If you could tell us a secret, even to each other, what would it be?
MK: Oh I hate these questions. I would never tell a secret to a journalist! Or it would be a lie and I have no time to lie.
TH: I wrote my best tracks in 25 minutes!
10 Let’s write the lyrics to your next single, tell us five things you each hate and love…
MK: I hate when I put something somewhere and know it’s in a wrong place because it may have fallen down or I may lose it and it happens, so you tell yourself “I knew it”! I hate when I don’t have enough time for my friends, I stress myself a lot about that. I hate when people steal my lighter, even by mistake. I never do that. I hate when you order something in a restaurant and it’s made wrong or doesn’t look like how it should be, like when they put some herbs that shouldn’t be there. I hate when journalists want to make friends with the artists. I love to lay down on my carpet at night when the full moon shines in my eyes through the window. I love to walk down the streets of Paris and stop for a coffee, reading a newspaper, and watching the life around. I love to find the right outfit immediately, just like when you DJ and the records come along. I love remembering my dreams cause they help me a lot, even the bad ones. I love when the Hacker calls me to play music on the phone.
TH: I love: daydreaming, italian food, analogue synthesizers, going out at night, and South Park. I hate: a lot of what’s going on in electronic music right now, thai food, restaurants that think they’re cool because you eat in the dark with very loud music, long flights, and wasting my time waiting for, planes, trains, buses, cars, etc.
Merci :-)
MK & TH: De rien!
Party in my Head

Party In My Head
Miss Kittin & The Hacker

Taken from the album Two (Released 2009)

Two

Electronic City
Miss Kittin & The Hacker

Taken from the album Two (Released 2009)

First Album

The Beach
Miss Kittin & The Hacker

Taken from the album First Album, 2009 Reissue (Original single released 2002)

Miss Kittin
& The Hacker

It was in 2001. The “Frank Sinatra” electro ditty, with its light melody and Miss Kittin’s cutting sense of humour, has toured the world: “To be famous is so nice. Suck my dick! Lick my ass! In limousines we have sex, every night with my famous friends.” Karl Lagerfeld, Marilyn Manson and Elton John (who says he gave a copy to all his friends) are self proclaimed fans of the duo. With Miss Kittin & The Hacker’s success, the French music scene has found its, unexpected, second wind after the French touch disco loops.

Caroline Hervé (aka Miss Kittin) and Michel Amato (aka The Hacker) meet in Grenoble during the early 90s at a rave. This trend, at full tilt in the UK, is slow to pick up in France: “In Grenoble, there must have been about 10 of us who went to techno parties”, remembers The Hacker. For many people of their generation, techno is a musical and cultural slap in the face. The two friends both buy decks and become DJs. Their notoriety, essentially on a national scale, grows little by little. In 1996, the French label, Tekmics, asks Miss Kittin to write a track for a compilation. She turns to The Hacker for help (he is already producing tracks under the XMF project and techno themes on his own). The Miss Kittin & The Hacker duo sees the light of day. Their first track is called “Gratin Dauphinois”. Others are soon to follow…

At this time, techno, in the strictest sense of the term, is at its apogee. The tempo often rapid and the music violent, based on a layering of hypnotic loops. Miss Kittin & The Hacker use this style when DJing (Jeff Mills is one of their heroes), but they decide to take a different direction with their compositions, preferring to dive into naïve, free and easy electro-pop. Their arrangements are direct, spontaneous, seemingly unplanned, and mainly generated with basic material (some synths, a beat box, a microphone…). Miss Kittin & The Hacker’s tunes are somewhat unorthodox. Their techno has a song-like format, based on the verse-chorus pop schema and is heavily influenced by the 80s (Cabaret Voltaire, Depeche Mode or New Order in particular).

Munich’s DJ Hell, who is in the process of founding the International DJ Gigolo label, loves the duo’s demos and signs them in 1997. The first Miss Kittin & The Hacker EPs (e.g. “Champagne” and “Intimités”) are an immediate hit, even beyond the Rhine. The hit, “1982” (a throw back to the music of that year), even makes it onto MTV Germany. Another track quickly sets itself apart, “Frank Sinatra”, a distinct and delirious anthem, composed during an afternoon jam in the Ozone record shop studio in Grenoble.

Miss Kittin & The Hacker soon find themselves playing live. An impressive sight to behold: Her, exuberant, front stage, dressed as a dominatrix nurse and Him, in the background, statuesque behind his machines. The ultimate 1980s duo fantasy: The Diva under the burning spotlights and the composer in the shadows. Soon, other artists make names for themselves using the electro-pop glam vocal formula. Tiga and Fisherspooner both become stars under the electroclash banner of which Miss Kittin & The Hacker are recognised as pioneers.

Preceded by a new single version of “Frank Sinatra” (“Frank Sinatra 2001”), “First Album” is released in 2001. This first album revisits the themes that the French seem so fond of: Synthetic smiley and naive electro-pop (“Life On MTV”, “Stock Exchange”…) or darker and pernicious (“Stripper”), distinguished by Miss Kittin’s French accented voice, full of derision. The album earmarks a next step. Touring intensifies, the duo play every weekend and fly to America, Canada and South America…

At the end of the summer of 2002, electroclash reaches its peak. Miss Kittin & The Hacker are at their summit. It’s here that they decide to call it a day. “We were knackered, we needed to take a break, take time out for other projects and not tie ourselves down to one musical style”, admits The Hacker. Many spoke of a split, not true. “We never separated, we just took a long break” grins Miss Kittin.

Late 2002, Miss Kittin & The Hacker, together as well as solo, become points of reference within electronic music. The former is a sought-after voice (collaborating with Felix Da Housecat, Sven Väth…), a DJ star with an eclectic ear (demonstrated by her mix CDs: “Radio Caroline”, “A Bugged Out Mix”…) and with a successful album under her belt (“I Com”, 2004). The latter goes on to become an unrivalled electro and techno DJ, going from EPs to remixes (Marc Almond, Laurent Garnier, Air, Nitzer Ebb…). His career takes a new turn with the success of his second album, “Rêves Mécaniques” (2004), propelled by the hit, “Flesh & Bone”.

Finally, amid their flowering solo careers, the duo once again come together as they did initially, by accident. Throughout 2006, spontaneously, without any pressure and just for the fun, the French duo compose a few tunes together. Two of these come out in the spring of 2007 on the “Hometown” EP (released by Goodlife, founded in 1998 by The Hacker and his friend Oxia). Miss Kittin & The Hacker full of new perspectives and seemingly complementary extremes. “Hometown” encompasses a light, emotional disco theme (in homage to their hometown Grenoble). “Dimanche”, written in Berlin on return from an afterparty, is darker minimal techno influenced by the 1990s raves.

Very quickly a tour is organised. Kicking off with a huge gig in front of thousands of people under the famous “Pont du Gard” bridge in South France, in July. Each date is the same: A massive turnout. The duo uses this experience to define a new on-stage style. Between “revisited” and new tunes (“Belgium”, “PPPO” or the superb cover of Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds”), Miss Kittin & The Hacker leave behind electroclash contrariness and unmask a perfectly accessible, more elegant, more mature and more distinct - yet, still pop - side. An initial and tempting appetiser to their new album and forthcoming tour that will, undoubtedly, be one of the great electronic music events of 2009.

All music courtesy of Nobody’s Bizzness

Photographs courtesy of Vincent Flouret, Laurent Julliard, and Marc Zaffuto

For more info:
Miss Kittin
& The Hacker

A special thanks to Caroline Hervé,
Michel Amato,
Suzana Gostimirović at
Gostimirović Music Management
and Vickie Starr at
Girlie Action

Interview by
Justin Gagne