Miss Kittin might not command the superstar name recognition of renowned DJs such as David Guetta, Bob Sinclar, Paul Oakenfold or Avicii. But this French singer/songwriter, DJ and producer — real name Caroline Herve — just might rock your world even harder when she takes the stage Saturday night at Story Miami to deliver her claws-out mix of electroclash, house, techno and synth-pop with a pleasantly underground edge.
Veteran clubbers will recognize her dance anthems such as Rippin Kittin, Silver Screen Shower Scene (with Felix da Housecat) and the gleefully profane Frank Sinatra, but Miss Kittin is in town to promote her recent EP, Life is My Teacher, and her upcoming double album — written, performed and produced on her own — Calling From the Stars. Miss Kittin talked to Miami.com about the new music, her recent musical freedom and the chance meeting that led her to cover REM’s sentimental ballad Everybody Hurts.
What can we expect from your show?
A trapeze show with fireworks, and a Dalmatian riding a bicycle. Seriously, good house music. What else?
Calling From the Stars sounds at once retro and a glimpse of the future. What kind of sound or feeling were you going for?
Exactly what you said. I try to write songs with electronic sounds, a bit old-school sometimes, but with a futuristic twist, yes. It fits my weird extra-sensorial side. I am not a technical person, [but am] driven by intuition, so all the songs are written in my small studio with very little equipment. It’s not about perfection — it’s about emotion. Just like singing.
It’s also the first album you’ve written and produced yourself — what are you most proud of about it?
That. To have written all by myself. It’s a huge achievement after all these years of hanging around in other people’s studios, and hearing that I was not producing myself. But most musicians write songs and go to a producer afterward, and nobody says anything. Even many DJs have a producer. Producing and writing are two distinct things. Most producers don’t know how to write a song.
Was the sense of musical freedom more exhilarating, or terrifying?
Always exhilarating! Live performance is much more terrifying. Studio is a cocoon, a bubble. I was always free, even collaborating. It’s also exhilarating to enter someone’s environment and write a song together. I learned so much through these experiences. I basically didn’t realize I could write on my own, technically. I started with writing sketches, until my producer friend told me the sketches were good the way they were. It just happened.
How much of the instrumentation did you perform yourself?
All of it. From the drums to the synth parts, to the singing. I use my computer and synths as folk people use guitar or piano. Same thing.
What inspired your cool cover of REM’s ballad Everybody Hurts?
Bumping into [REM singer] Michael Stipe in Cannes one evening. I was having dinner with friends, and I walked out to smoke a cigarette. I didn’t know he was there until he stood in front of me and said he liked my work. I turned totally red, and speechless. We have a great friend in common, Wolfgang Tillmans, a photographer, who took beautiful portraits of Michael. We talked about him. When I got back home, I still had his aura printed so much in my mind, I wrote that cover during the night. For myself. I had no intention to release it one day. I sent it to Wolfgang, who forwarded it to Michael, who said he enjoyed it more than the original. This cover is an homage to that moment, like a snapshot.
Some of your previous tracks — most notably Rippin Kittin, Silver Screen Shower Scene and Frank Sinatra — are dance classics. Do they still sound fresh to you?
It’s funny, because I rarely played them in my sets. They were more “pop” classics in a dance scene. It’s weird to listen to them again, especially while preparing my first solo live show. I had to go through all of them, with tenderness. I listened to them in a total different way. For the first time, I was like, “Whoa, I did this? It’s really me?” I’ve never looked back on my work, always looking forward. It’s a good feeling. Like I can finally enjoy the fruits from the tree. They don’t always sound fresh, but fresh enough to be played live, with some reworking.
Were you at all concerned initially about Frank Sinatra possibly offending anyone?
No. I picked Frank Sinatra because it was rhyming with “area.” I wrote the song in 10 minutes. Frank Sinatra was not even dead. The song is a joke, Saturday Night Live style. It’s a parody of show business that turned into reality. DJs became rock stars. And I am part of it — how ironic. The song’s revenge. But it’s so tricky, because people think I wrote that because I was fascinated by fame. That’s how twisted is this world.
I hear so many influences in your music. Who are some big inspirations for you?
New Wave gave me the taste for emotional melodies and big synths. Rave parties for big beats, electro for edgy sounds, electronica and ambient music for the contemplation part.
Will we see you in March for WMC?
I don’t think so — I have a busy schedule with the album release in Europe. I am working on the live show so I prefer to come properly next year to present the performance.
What do you think of Miami?
It’s hard to discover the edgy side of Miami, the one I like, away from South Beach. I was lucky to have Otto Von Schirach as a guide.