“Electro storytelling. No compromise, no self-censorship, the contrast of poetry and irony.” In conversation with Kittin (Caroline Hervé) and The Hacker (Michel Amato) on the occasion of their upcoming ‘Third Album’. Both iconic and influential artists in their own right, Kitting is as well-known as a DJ and producer with an instantly recognisable vocal style that she made her trademark. The quietly influential Amato, a fellow legend of the French dance music scene, has been making music since the late 1980s and applying an unmatched technical prowess to everything from synth-pop to techno, EBM and avant-garde electronics. Don’t miss the ‘Ostbahnhof’ video showcasing the story of going to an emblematic Berlin club on a Sunday afternoon that is so close to our hearts and the euphoric and uncompromising playlist they curated for our latest Soundscapes release.
Can you tell a bit about your story, how you met and what made you work together in the first place?
[K]: We met in our hometown around 1990 in the first raves we went to, as we were a very small group jumping into this movement. We already went to the same new wave club previously, without knowing each other. It’s only when I was asked to compose a track for a compilation that I asked him for help and started working together. Another request from DJ Hell met in another rave, sealed our duet. We made Frank Sinatra and 1982 for our first EP, the rest is history.
[H]: We are from the same city (Grenoble, France) and we met in what was the first techno club in our city almost 30 years ago!! We were both part of a very small scene of people who were into raves and techno, Caroline started to DJ and I started to make music and play live in raves. One day Caroline was asked to do a track for a compilation, she didn’t have any machines to do music, so she asked me and that is how it started.
What are the challenges coming back for a third album? You said that this album is “a return to the core of what you were doing”. Can you expand on this point and talk about what it means to continue working together after all these years?
[K]: It’s already a challenge to be in a band. We survived because we were never a couple, and both consider it as a « big side project » paralel to our solo work. We only did 2 albums, we take our time, quality over quantity. The only pressure we have is: what do we want to say with our music. After 30 years, it’s the same question. The answer is to focus on what we do best, but still be opened enough to reflect the present, not the past, and if we can, tend to timelessness. We are lucky to be extremely different and nourish each other, as well as knowing our role in this project. But it’s still work, as any relationship, gets better, years after years.
Listen to Soundscapes vol.87, a playlist curated by Kittin & The Hacker
[H]: We wanted to so something simpler and more direct than our second album, which was very clean and pop. In a way yes, it’s a come back to our roots, minimal and raw electro. It was also a test about our musical relationship, does it still work? And the answer is yes, we still have things to say!
Honestly, I listened to the album on loop for days. I am intrigued and obsessed by the sounds of Soyuz. Why are you singing in Russian, and what is the main narrative behind it?
[K]: Thank you. It’s Michel’s sample of Soyuz communication signals who inspired me one more time to do something I’ve never done before. That’s my biggest thrill, cos it’s fun. I don’t speak Russian so it was quite a piece of work, but not speaking it is the perfect excuse for total freedom, for mistakes, for being creative with it. It’s such an advantage, it creates that obsession you experienced as a listener.
[H]: The track is based around a sample of Russian radio frequency, satellites communications. That gave Caroline the ideas for those lyrics.
How do you see the future of electronic music and the place of analog tools in it?
[K]: Do you really want to know? Personally I don’t.
[H]: I‘d really like to have an answer about the future of music, it’s always hard to guess, but for sure analog tools will still be used, personally they are my favorites, I love the sound of those old machines.
When and where are you coming back on stage?
We will be back on stage for hybrid shows, between live and DJing, starting in March, clubs and festivals.
Kittin & The Hacker
Artists: Kittin / @misskittinofficial
The Hacker / @the_hacker_amato
Photos: Astrid Staes / @astrid_staes
Editor: Maria Abramenko / @mariabramenko
Interview: Antoine Schafroth / @a.schafroth