1www.kaltblut-magazine.comCOLLECTION 3ICON.IC(AL)
226                  Photo by Héloïse Letissier         Tour November/France 2012                15/11: F - Figeac / La Ch...
227CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS   Thanks to a really good friend of mine (may I say BFF), I had the chance to meet the delicio...
228KALTBLUT: On stage, you’re not only a                but that definitely helped me be comfortable on     There’s always...
229  „I’m at a point                                   Crass”. In that song I say that I am filthy and I                  ...
230 „I’m interested in characters that       break away from the norm. There’s something so flamboyant and at the same tim...
231KALTBLUT: You’d really be interested in doing that? For a lot of                   KALTBLUT: You did theater, played th...
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Christine and The Queens: the interview (Collection 3)


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Interview avec Christine and The Queens (http://www.christineandthequeens.com/) pour Kaltblut Magazine - Collection 3 > http://www.kaltblut-magazine.com/collection-3/

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Christine and The Queens: the interview (Collection 3)

  1. 1. 1www.kaltblut-magazine.comCOLLECTION 3ICON.IC(AL)
  2. 2. 226 Photo by Héloïse Letissier Tour November/France 2012 15/11: F - Figeac / La Chapelle 16/11: F - Toulouse / Connection Café17/11: F - Villefranche-sur-Saône / Festival Nouvelles Voix 20/11: F - ORLEANS / L’Astrolabe
  3. 3. 227CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS Thanks to a really good friend of mine (may I say BFF), I had the chance to meet the delicious Christine & the Queens. It was not the first time that I had heard of her. I had listened to some of her songs, but I wasn’t addicted just yet. So when I saw that she was coming to Berlin for a gig, I bought a ticket and said to my friend, ok so you like what she does,how about I go to the concert and you help me with the interview, deal? Well of course when you put it like that it may sounda bit unfair, but the concert was in Berlin, where I happen to be living whereas my friend lives in... Paris! See? It’s not like we had a choice.8 PM. The show was about to start and here I was at She might not be headlining just yet, but give her a few ye- the Lido standing in the first row, waiting (if you’ve ars (months?). When Christine & The Queens is opening for read my other reviews you‘ll know that I NEVER go another band, you realize that she is the kind of artist who will further than row 5 anyway). make you swear you’ll never skip an opening act ever again. Christine finally appeared on stage, alone, with as sole She’s THAT good. Opening acts can be boring, and damn itcompanion… a computer (I won’t indulge into the usual after all you’re not really here to see them. Opening acts areproduct placement BS), antlers, a beautiful tux, and the most “that other band”, the one that makes a whole lotta noise andamazing, sparkly shoes I had EVER seen, and believe me I do whose performance you often have to suffer through. Theknow a thing or two about sparkle. Or shoes for that matter. band whose name you never catch and rarely remember. During the first two songs I was kind of getting acquainted Not Christine & The Queens. You’re bound to remember her.with her, you know, it was more low tempo, I was basically The girl has one hell of a set of pipes. Talented, funny, weird,observing. Then she came up with more up tempo beats, and she oozes charisma.it was really impressive to witness the effect her little show had After about 30 minutes (it was a festival after all) her per-on the crowd. She was communicative and interacting with formance was over, and I had the pleasure of meeting her for athem. But what made the difference wasn’t so much what she bit, and we confirmed our interview the following morning atsaid to the audience, it was her dancing. When she started 10.30AM.dancing (and OMG can that girl dance or WHAT? She’s got And so here I am, sitting with the lovely Christine in asome serious swag going on, I swear, just like a nigger, no small café in KREUZBERG. Before you start reading, I’d justoffense I am black, m’kay), people started yelling, and the two like to say a few words: this (HUGE) interview really madefront rows got caught up in the music and started dancing in my day. Héloïse (her real name) is so funny. We had such async with the rhythm. great time. I am totally talking on her behalf here, BUT I’M Let’s take a moment to talk about one particular song, „Kiss PRETTY SURE SHE FEELS THE SAME WAY, or maybeMy Crass“: the lighting, her undeniable presence on stage, and not, well whatever. It was magical. We “clicked”.the GLITTER, made for a SUPERB PICTURE. We laughed a lot, and in the end this interview felt more Christine does own the stage but not like a rock star or like a nice conversation with a friend.anything, no, just like it is genuinely her space. She takes So keep an eye out for her. Because when you get a chanceplace, and then evolves inside that space like it is her own, like to see Christine & The Queens perform live, don’t even think:she owns it. GO! There was a really intimate aspect to the show, especially as This won’t sound like anything you‘ve ever heard and I canChristine invited us into her world, gesturing us to „come on, assure you that it will not look like anything you‘ve ever seendo it with me“. either. Take my word for it. One more thing, because we love you guys so much, we’re giving you a chance to win TWO copies of her latest EP (Mac Abbey) on page 398. Text & Interview by Nicolas Simoneau & Bénédicte Lelong www.christineandthequeens.com
  4. 4. 228KALTBLUT: On stage, you’re not only a but that definitely helped me be comfortable on There’s always a “but”: “But when will it becomesinger, but also an actress. How was stage. a band? And doesn’t it bother you?”Christine born? Personally it doesn’t bother me. I don’t mind being alone on stage. I wouldn’t be able to do KALTBLUT: Who are your Queens? all these shows otherwise. It’s exhausting. YOUCHRISTINE: Christine is a character that I need to be there 100% every step of the way,created a year and a half ago. I used to do a lot CHRISTINE: There are five of them, but I you can’t let loose for even a second.of theater so that’s probably where my acting on only met three real Queens that inspired Mi- And logistically speaking when you’re starting instage comes from. And I was at a moment in my séricorde, Motus and Mac Abbey. I created two the business like I am, it’s much easier to travellife when I didn’t really know what I wanted to more just for fun.One of them is supposed to be when you’re alone. The practical aspect is non-do artistically. I was trying to find myself. dead [LAUGHS]. Yeah, I’ll admit it, it’s pretty negligible.And that’s when I went to London. At the time twisted! And the 5th one is a complete fantasy, What I would like though is putting on a bigI used to go to London a lot. I was going out a show with lighting effects, a stage with different because 5 is a number that I like. levels, interactive videos. I was a little disap-lot at night, alone, because I was trying to find I created my Queens listening to them telling pointed to not be able to do that in Berlin. It’s athings that I liked. And this one night I went to me their life stories, a girlfriend they had that work in progress. Maybe one day I’ll get boreda club, Madame JoJo’s where drag artists would had AIDS, you know it’s a whole different and want my performance to be livelier. Maybeput on a show. There was no lip-synching, and universe. And so I took this material and made then I’ll get my own band. But right now this isthey were really playing music. It was awesome! it my own and used it as an inspiration to create something that works for me.They were so beautiful! I loved it. And that’s my Queens. I re-drew them. They’re not the And I understand why people ask about that.when I thought to myself that I would love to girls that I met, they’re simplified versions of They’re not aggressive or anything. But I get it, Ihave a band of drag queens on stage with me. reality. They each have a very distinct trait of do. Plus I’ve been doing this for less than a year,So of course I went up to them at the end of character. Miséricorde is the one who’s always so everything’s possible! [LAUGHS]their set and told them how amazing I thought sad, Motus only thinks about fame. And they’rethey were. “How would you like being in a all facets of my own personality. KALTBLUT: Christine & The Queens isband with me?” I asked. They laughed, probably sort of a one-woman-show, have you beenthinking “WHO are you, honey?” We spent KALTBLUT: So it’s basically five different taking dance lessons, because your dancingsome time together in London but they told me personalities that are part of you… is amazing!they couldn’t be in a band with me because theyhad jobs. CHRISTINE: Thank you! [LAUGHS] I’m so CHRISTINE: There are different ways toSo it didn’t work out but when I got back to flattered! When I was very young I danced a lot. interpret things but yeah, pretty much. I get aFrance I decided that I would keep the aesthe- But it was ballet. lot of questions from people who are like “wetics, this queer aspect that I like, and the image would love to see the Queens with you!” so itof the drag queen that I find particularly tou- can be a little frustrating. And I do remember KALTBLUT: I mean seriously, let’s beching. I don’t know why but I find their stories wondering whether or not one day I’ll be able to honest: except for blacks, very few peopleincredibly moving. So I came up with the name have them perform with me. can bust a move like you do!of that imaginary band, and I started composingalone in my apartment.I posted my songs on MySpace. I never thought KALTBLUT: That’s what I was wondering: CHRISTINE: [LAUGHS] Well, a lot offor a second that it would come to this. I had you’ve played in Paris, in Berlin, if one day people tell me that I have a black guy’s swag!plans in theater. And I ended up practically you happen to be performing in London, [LAUGHS] I’m like thanks! The truth is,overnight on Les Inrocks’s website (a French wouldn’t it be possible to have some kind of I LOVE dancing. Whenever I can, I go tocultural magazine) and soon people were asking a reunion with you and the (real) Queens? Voguing Parties in Paris. It’s in my blood, evenme to do gigs. So Christine really comes from when I’m alone composing, I immediately feelthis encounter I had with drags. CHRISTINE: I would love that. That would that urge to dance. Also I confess, I DO watch a be awesome. But I only have one fear, and it’s a lot of Michael Jackson videos.KALTBLUT: Why did you invent this cha- very girly one: I’m scared that these girls wouldracter? Did you do it consciously? Hiding completely steal the show [LAUGHS] They’re KALTBLUT: Tell us a little bit about theparts of yourself by becoming someone else, 5’6”, gorgeous, and they play an instrument. props that you use on stage: the antlers,is that part of your transformation on stage? Next to that, it’d be like “Bye-bye Christi- the glitter, the sunglasses, the scissors… are ne!” I’m kidding. I mean, only half-kidding they symbolically significant? [LAUGHS] Still that would be awesome.CHRISTINE: Having a theater background,I was naturally interested in being somebody CHRISTINE: They are. When you’re alone onelse on stage, in finding alter egos. And I met KALTBLUT: When we hear “Christine & stage you need to find something to make yourdrags who were already doing that, using this The Queens”, we’re expecting to see at least show livelier especially in between two songs.aspect of themselves for a very specific purpose. 3 people on stage, yet it’s just you and a I’m French but I sing in English and sometimesWe talked about it and they said “you can never computer. It’s rather unusual. You are your I can see my French audience go “OK. WHATbe a drag because you’re a girl!” [LAUGHS] I own band. Doesn’t it get a little are you talking about?”was like “yeah, OK!” complicated? Don’t you wish you had a The antlers came first. I’m only 5’2” so they band sometimes? make me taller [LAUGHS] It’s also a way to in-KALTBLUT: You could have been a Drag troduce Christine. I’m letting people know thatKing! they can throw conventions out the window. It’s CHRISTINE: Right now it’s not something gonna get wild! that bothers me. But I do get a lot of questions And then it dawned on me that I could playCHRISTINE: Right. In London they told me and comments about that. with objects, like in Object Theater. The scissorsI could be a “Faux Queen”. Did you see the film I unfortunately couldn’t bring to Berlin with meVictor Victoria? The lead singer is a girl who KALTBLUT: Negative comments? because they were confiscated at the airport.pretends that she is a drag. I like to find funny objects, so for example I in-Christine is one of my alter egos. I don’t think CHRISTINE: Not necessarily, no but people troduce the scissors as my boyfriend. I play withshe’ll be my only alter ego. I’ll have several of wonder what it’s all about, especially in France. them a lot on stage. They help me dance. I likethem. I don’t know if I’ll keep them all. I didn’t do a lot of shows outside of France, playing with codes and conventions. The glassesShe is sort of a Faux Queen. I don’t think that’s but I went to Poland, Germany, Italy and over are a reference to celebrity, to fame.what people think about when they see me there people don’t ask me about that. In Franceperform, “Oh, that girl’s met Drag Queens!” people are always like “It’s really good… but…” As for the glitter it has to do with “Kiss My
  5. 5. 229 „I’m at a point Crass”. In that song I say that I am filthy and I thought I needed something to illustrate that, like dust. Then it came to me: glitter! Plus it interacts with light. It’s very kitsch I know, but right now oddly enough when I talk to the audience after a show, that’s usually what sticks with them, the scissors, the glitter. where I’m willing “ KALTBLUT: Now tell us about your wri-to challenge myself ting process. Do you have a method: first the lyrics, then the melody… how does it work? CHRISTINE: In my case, there’s really no rule. Sometimes I just have a sentence that I want to use somewhere so I need to come up with a song. But usually the lyrics come last. I can’t imagine writing lyrics without at least some kind of a musical structure. To me, each word needs to have its own music. There’s one constant though: I always start with the rhythm and the bass line. To be honest, I’m kind of obsessed with the bass line. When you have a good bass line, you can build something that’s really swag. KALTBLUT: Are you in character when you’re writing? Who’s composing? You Héloïse or Christine? CHRISTINE: At the beginning, I needed to be Christine in order to compose, because in my songs at the time I was building this world, this universe, Christine’s universe: who is she? That gave birth to manifesto songs like “Be Freaky”. Now I’m a lot more prolific, and I noticed that it’s a mix of me and Christine. I will use feelings that I have about certain things but then I will try and think how Christine would talk about these things. No, I’m not schizophrenic [LAUGHS] I used to see it as a role. I was writing like you would write theater. Now it’s a little different. But I’ve been living with Christine for over a year. The line between Christine and me is getting blurry, so the things that I write are a lot more personal now. This being said I could never just write as Héloïse. I need Christine. KALTBLUT: You sing in French and in English, sometimes both like on “Be Fre- aky”. When you’re writing songs, does it come to you in French or in English? CHRISTINE: Honestly when I’m composing and I’m working on a melody it’s utter gibberish. But it generally sounds English. So most of the time, I’ll do it all in English. It’s easier to write pop songs in English. But then on a number of songs, what came out of my mouth sounded a bit Swedish [LAUGHS] so I thought maybe I could try doing this in French. At first I only wrote in English, and in a sense I was protecting myself. If I had been singing in French the audience would have seen right through me: drag queen, transformation. In English, if people want to find out what it means, they can but I won’t be “in your face” about it. I started writing in French not that long ago. Photo by Guido Engler
  6. 6. 230 „I’m interested in characters that break away from the norm. There’s something so flamboyant and at the same time incredibly moving about their stories. It’s like their humanity and charisma are exacerbated.“ Photo by Héloïse Letissier“Chaleur Humaine” was my first song written exclusively in French. It was Then they were working on their album and looking for featurings andliberating in a way. I realized that I could do it. Yes, we can! [LAUGHS] that’s when they emailed me, asking me if I’d be interested inAnd now French comes to me more naturally. But I still find it quite hard collaborating. They told me I’d have to come to the studio.to write a song in French that has good rhythm. It becomes very cheesy, I had an “Eeeeek!” moment there because that’s something I had neververy fast. So I’m still experimenting in that department. done before, singing in a studio. I work out of my apartment. I was scared I would screw it up. People looking at you while you sing,KALTBLUT: This past summer you collaborated with The Name, I had done it once on a featuring for Amnesty International,a French electronic band, on two tracks Distance and Wasteland. but that was it.How did this collaboration come about? I said why not, but can I do it at my place? You email me the track, I’ll record the vocals and email it back to you. They were really cool about it.CHRISTINE: We did a show together. I was sharing the bill with them So we did exactly that. It was easy. I liked it. Next I’d like to really collabo-one night. We just exchanged hellos and that was basically it. rate with someone, write a song together.
  7. 7. 231KALTBLUT: You’d really be interested in doing that? For a lot of KALTBLUT: You did theater, played the piano and whether it be onartists, collaborating doesn’t come naturally. It is challenging being stage, on your website or on the cover of your EP’s you have artisticable to open up and work hand-in-hand with someone else… sensibilities that seem to go way beyond just making music (dra- wing, cinema, photography).CHRISTINE: I would like that. I work alone all the time. So yes, it’d becurious to know how it works. I’d love to collaborate with Nick Cave for CHRISTINE: I did theater for 10 years. I was good at the comic stuff,instance. I’d like to collaborate with someone as weird and magnetic and but the tragic roles not so much. I wasn’t a good tragic actress because Icrazy as him [LAUGHS] couldn’t open up. Music helped me do that. I just hadn’t found the rightI’m at a point right now where I’m willing to challenge myself. Like on my way to express myself.first album, which I’m working on right now, I might work with a pro- I wanted to direct plays, so I’ve always been interested in differentducer who wouldn’t just produce, but with whom I’d be able to exchange techniques.I didn’t receive any particular training though. I learned by do-ideas, to collaborate. And that in turn would allow me to grow as an artist. ing. I take my own photos, I arrange my own lighting. The album cover for Mac Abbey was an accident: the self-timer on my camera didn’t work butKALTBLUT: So it’s not a rumor, you WILL eventually release a the photo turned out OK. You learn as you go along. Take my website forfull-length album? instance. I fiddled with it with my boyfriend at the time who was a graphic designer.This one time I had a photo-shoot with a professional photogra-CHRISTINE: Yes! I’m in the process of signing with a label. The reason I pher, and he was just telling me what to do, there was no dialogue. That’sam signing with a record label is because it gives you the (financial) means not what I want. I’m a DIY kind of girl.to keep working. Up until now I was self-producing my music. Now I Being young and a woman in this industry, when you’re working withwant to take things up a notch.This being said I admire people who choose people who have 20+ years of experience, they’re trying to mold you, evento remain independent but I for one don’t think I’m cut up for it.So if though you’ve told them “I want to do this my way.” The photographerthings go as planned my 12-track album will come out in September 2013. will be like “I’m the photographer, you do what I tell you to do.” It’s hardI know, that’s a long time BUT I will definitely release an EP before that to to impose your vision, your universe.announce the album, kind of like a mix tape with one track that will be on It’s my project, I know what I want. It’s pretty hard to make them acceptthe album, but also covers and a couple new songs. And hopefully I’ll have you for who you are. I’ve had meetings with a couple of Art Directorsa nice video clip ready by January 2013. who’ve had a hard time because I was bringing my own universe to the ta- ble and they didn’t know how to handle it or what to do with me. I wasn’t “just” a singer, I was also composing my own music, so they didn’t have toKALTBLUT: You’ve covered Michael Jackson (“Who Is It”), start from scratch with me and to them that was upsetting. One of themMadonna (“Helliday”), Yves Simon (“Amazoniaque”). Why these told me “You’re gonna be the French Lady Gaga! You will wear a sequinedartists, why these songs? leotard!” [LAUGHS] The best Art Directors accept you just the way you are, they’re not trying to mold you into someone you’re not.CHRISTINE: I’ve had a crush on Michael Jackson ever since I was a litt-le girl. I just HAD to cover him. The problem is, I love everything he did KALTBLUT: The “freak” seems to be a common thread runningso it was hard for me to pick a song. On “Who Is It” I adored the melody through your oeuvre. The cripple, the drifter, the narcissist, manybut the arrangement not so much so I thought I could do something with of your characters stray away from the norm and find salvation onit. Plus it was a breakup song and I was kinda going through that myself atthe time, so it was perfect! stage. Are you attracted to this culture of the strange, the freak, theThe other covers I did, it wasn’t because of the artist and it wasn’t necessari- queer?ly songs that I loved, it was just songs that I could see myself toying aroundwith. You don’t want to touch or alter in any way your favorite songs CHRISTINE: Absolutely. Queer to me is the acceptance of what’s out-anyway.When I cover a song, I try and make it mine. I take it and try to go side the norm, of what’s different. We’re very queer friendly in my family.somewhere else with it, I try to bring something new to it. I’ve read Judith Butler’s “Gender Trouble” at a very young age. It helped me be open-minded. I’m interested in characters that break away fromKALTBLUT: You’ve done a number of festivals, you’ve opened for the norm. There’s something so flamboyant and at the same time incre- dibly moving about their stories. It’s like their humanity and charisma areAustra, Sébastien Tellier, Selah Sue. Do you prefer intimate venues exacerbated.or big festivals? This message “Be Freaky” goes hand in hand with pop music. It appealed to artists like David Bowie and Lady Gaga, even though today it is beingCHRISTINE: This summer I did an outdoor festival on the square in exploited to no end, so much so that it’s hard to see whether it’s sincere orfront of Paris’s City Hall. When I got on stage, there was like 10 million not. The message tends to lose its meaning.people out there and I was like “Oh, hel-looo!” The stage felt huge and “Kiss My Crass”, my song about personal hygiene and filth, usually drawsempty behind me. intense reactions from certain people who come up to me at the end of aI like to adapt myself when I’m on stage. I like small venues because they show and tell me very personal things about themselves. I think the realare intimate. But I love big stages as well. For that festival I did in Paris, taboo right now in society isn’t being different, it’s poverty.people were asking me if I was scared. And I was like “No, it’s awesome!” I I understand people’s reaction to the song because it’s easy to identify withlike the challenge of having to conquer an audience. I’m 5’2”, and it’s just it. If you look at the media today, we have to be clean, good-looking andme on stage. You do have to be a bit of a kamikaze to do this. perfect. Sometimes I don’t feel clean enough, or tall enough, or presentableAfterwards when I saw videos of my performance that night, I realized that enough, or thin enough. The freak aspect is being exploited in fashion, andI looked positively insane. The rush of seeing thousands of people cheering it is gradually being accepted by society but filth is still very much provo-you on, it gives your confidence a boost. cative.KALTBLUT: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr… you are social media KALTBLUT: You sound like you lack a little self-confidence…savvy. Is it important for you to keep in touch with the people wholike your music? CHRISTINE: Oh I totally do. What’s funny is that with “Kiss My Crass” I took a negative song and subject matter and made it into some kind ofCHRISTINE: I like being in charge of these things. The tweets are mine, statement: “I’m flawed, but I’m pretty!”I answer comments and messages on Facebook. I’m not in over my head And this idea is in a way at the heart of my project: taking your insecuritiesyet. I’m not Lady Gaga! Although it is time consuming, I think it’s normal and turning them into something that you can share with people. In doingfor me to put some time into this because in the end these people with so, I put myself on equal footing with my audience. The people who comewhom I am interacting are the ones who support me and come out to my up to me after my shows are adorable because the song awakens somethingshows. So I like giving back. Besides, they’re usually very charming. in them.
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