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Miss Kittin On Old Gear, New Gear, And DJing in a Blizzard

We caught up with the French artist to chat about Igloo Fest, performing all over the world, and why she's unloading so much of her vintage gear these days.
April 24, 2013, 2:30am

Following a decade of releases in which she honed her own sound as well as collaborated with French electroclash pioneer The Hacker, Miss Kittin returns with a double disc that is the culmination of her maturity and experimentation as a DJ, still powering forward after so much output. Calling from the Stars heavily features Miss Kittin's signature breathy vocals over two dozen tracks that remind you how much influence she had on this particular style, and still does as her reign continues.

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We noticed you recently put some of your gear up for auction on Ebay. Are you cleaning house and revamping your set up?
Yes! Spring cleaning! More seriously, I wanted my equipment to be alive. I was not using these pieces enough anymore, so it's a fantastic way to transmit them to someone who will give them a second life somehow. To put it on Ebay for a reasonable price and make a little buzz around it was a fun way to raise attention again on analog devices, on how great these machines are. You can't get the same organic experience with plug-ins. These are real instruments! But my studio is small and I am not a big technician. I have enough equipment already so I thought it's much better to sell them than keeping them unplugged. Of course it's a sentimental decision, but I know my machines will end up in good hands.

Is selling your vintage gear a signal that your sound is changing? What will you replace all that old gear with?
Well, I try not to be too attached to things in general. I regularly clean up my house, and yes, space gives you new inspiration. Basically, as I said, I am not a sound engineer who collects machines. I am more a songwriter. I can use simple equipment for that. There's amazing plug-ins nowadays, even if of course it's not the same. But it's enough for what what I do. And I like to write anywhere, on the road for example. Sometimes I have an idea in a hotel room and I can do it. Again, I really want to say I am not a big technician, so it's not about the equipment I use, it's about the ideas I have. For example, I had three bass guitars, but I am mainly using one, so I didn't have to keep the other two. I had a fat heavy metal bass – I sold it to a very cool metal band, which made me happy!

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Your friend The Hacker recently teamed up with a rising star, Gesaffelstein. Have you got any protégés of your own that you're grooming? Any young artists you're excited about?
Ha! Mike yes! We met him far before he was Gesaffelstein. It's great for The Hacker to see his friend (who was his big fan) growing up this way and now be on the road with him. It's like payback, and it gives him a lot of motivation to keep on producing, evolving. I don't have any protégés like this. I don't know if I'd be good at it because I would always say, "Be yourself. Do what you feel. Be brave. Don't listen to what people say!" But I did feel like I met someone who I thought, "We are of the same kind" in the name of Maya Jane Coles. She contacted me for a collaboration for her forthcoming album. She kicked my damn ass, asking me to rewrite the lyrics over and over according to the emails we were exchanging, about being outcasts, having a vision of our own. She was so right. Our entourage told us we were very alike. When we met for real the first time, it was like we knew each other, like sisters. The track ended up being a duet, what I wrote was the reflection of what I lived 10 years ago and what she is going through right now. She had to sing it. But she is much smarter than I was at the same age. Dammit!

What's your favorite thing in the French electronic music scene right now?
The melting pot in Paris right now, it seems like everybody is coming together. From my side, I have to say it happened with the loss of DJ Mehdi. I have to thank him for bringing us all together. It was amazing to see how much this guy was loved. I didn't know him well but I was very, very touched by his death. Meeting his friends, I found out we–musicians, DJs–had more in common than I ever thought. I didn't know them; we didn't hang out in the same scene. Now  
I can see Djedjotronic, Jackson, Sebastian, Brodinski, Gesaffelstein, and Chateau Marmont in the same room and it makes sense, even if we are all so different. And of course everybody is excited about the new Daft Punk! I saw the video, and I am like, "Pharrell, do you want to marry me?!"

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Where's your favorite city to perform in? Have you noticed the crowds change in various cities since you started?
You can't name a place in particular. A party can be amazing one day and shit the next, in the exact same place. For instance, Barcelona was the only place than made me cry during a gig! People were singing so loud, I shut down the music, stepped in front of the stage, sat down and listened to them. I thought it was incredible for once to really listen to the people who come to listen to you. Big lesson right? When I also played in Peru for the first time, I was playing and thinking, "God, you are in Peru, in the Inca Empire! That's why I love to travel. It puts the whole universe in perspective, especially in such circumstances as being a musician–like a weird tourist! Now I am not fresh meat anymore, so I see a lot of youngsters who heard about me but don't know what I do saying, "Wow, she kicks ass behind the decks, she can spin! Right. I've been doing it for 19 years so I'd better know how to spin dude…"

You recently played in Montreal at Igloofest during a snowstorm. Was that a complete nightmare?
Haha! No it was actually very, very cool! Cool is the word! -42°celsius, I think. I was so excited to play in such conditions, as I never did it before. I wasn't that cold. There were huge heaters on stage so I even took my coat off! Besides the wind that made our fingers freeze (not easy for playing or holding the mic). We were joking like snow is the new sand! You had to dance not to freeze. It's the best way to rave isn't it? I particularly loved to watch people jumping around in snow outfits with funny hats and boots and gloves. I loved it.

Alongside artists like Ellen Allien, Chloé, and Jennifer Cardini, you are one of the most prominent female DJs today. Do you think that contingent will grow? Do you care?
I can't believe we are still talking about it. It shows how things haven't changed. How could I be proud of it, of being asked again and again about being one of the few female DJs? It's insulting somehow, nearly segregationist. Boys, face it: it's easier for a DJ to have mama at home raising the kids, and much harder for us to find a man who can help us out while we are playing. And it's everywhere the same. I heard so many times, "Ha with your life, to have a family…" Fuck

that! I am home from Monday to Friday! If we had more support from men, there would be more women having a successful professional life! It's mathematics!

What's the weirdest place you've done an interview, and what's the weirdest place you'd want to do one?
I'd like to do an interview in the Oval Office in Obama's chair. I think this would be pretty cool. Otherwise, I can't remember where I gave an interview in a weird place. I am weird anyway so anything looks pretty normal as long as it's done with respect.