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They say everything comes back eventually. And, clearly, the ‘90s reemerged some time ago. One of the best things that have happened since the trend started is definitely Lost Tracks Vol. 2, by Miss Kittin – today known as simply Kittin – and The Hacker, the EP launched by Dark Entries, which contains four previously unreleased demos recorded between 1997 and 1999 – and that sound as fresh as ever.

The EP is a celebration to staying true to their sound, always embellished with verse-chorus structures and spontaneity, rather than a nostalgic approach to the sort of electro revival we’re living. They ‘blame’ Dark Entries’ founder Josh Cheon’s for the release, but they actually seem quite happy about it. “Without him, those tracks would have been lost forever!”, says Michael Amato, aka The Hacker.

But this release is not the only remarkable one. Kittin just launched, this past Friday November 2, her latest album, titled Cosmos, a twelve-track LP where the French DJ returns to her origins – both musically as in her stage name. But today we speak with the both of them about New Wave, EBM, Bakalao, and a possible meeting to record new material in the future.
This EP contains four previously unreleased tracks: Upstart, Love on 26, Snuff Movies, and The Building. What does it mean to you at this stage?
Kittin: It’s pretty unexpected, just like most of the things that have happened to me. And at the same time, it’s completely predictable because of the electro/EBM comeback we are currently experiencing. But on the other hand, five years ago, it would have sounded pretty ‘has been’! On a more personal level, I caught myself feeling quite emotional because since we made these tracks in The Hacker’s bedroom at his parents, it’s been quite a path.
The Hacker: It’s also cool to see that, after all these years, those tracks still sounds good. I’m pretty proud about that.
Why release them now? Do you agree there is a current sort of interest for late ‘80s electronica and New Wave/post-punk sound?
Kittin: This is Josh Cheon’s fault, to be honest! If Dark Entries hadn’t met The Hacker and asked him if we had spare tracks, we would have never remembered these old DAT tapes. Even if Dark Entries has existed since far before this current interest you mention, history is just a repetition, loops of influences. The Hacker and I are indeed children of the ‘80s, deeply inspired by New Wave pioneers of the late-‘70s and early-‘80s.
The Hacker: Yes, we have to thank Josh for that. Without him, those tracks would have been lost forever!
What role has nostalgia played in releasing this EP? Do you ever feel nostalgic about the past, remembering the ‘90s, the raves there were back then, or the club scene, for example?
Kittin: I am not nostalgic by nature. I am much more interested in how artists digest their influences to create something new. We do talk a lot with The Hacker about specific memories because what we experienced as small town kids was truly extraordinary, but I don’t feel nostalgic about it. I’ve always pretty much lived in the present.
I’ve read that you used to work with a Korg MS-20, Roland SH-101, TR-606, TR-808, Siel DK80, and Boss DR-660 drum machine. I assume you don’t use many of these after twenty years. So in what way have new technologies contributed to your current sound/music? Is there a specific item/gadget, though, that you can’t live without since your beginnings?
Kittin: I pass it on to The Hacker. He loves to talk about that!
The Hacker: I still use the SH 101, the MS 20 and the TR 808. For me, the big change happened six years ago when I skipped from my old Cubase to Ableton – I work so much faster now. If I have to choose one item that’s been here since the beginning, I would say the Korg MS20. It’s been in nearly every track. And the SH 101 also. For example, the track Upstart (in Lost Tapes 2) is made only with those two synths.
Obviously, one cannot avoid looking back when listening to the EP. For example, Kittin’s outfit dressed up like a nurse became iconic. For instance, I remember being at Sónar Barcelona in 1999 (if I’m right) and there were big images of girls wearing nurse caps (rod closs included) to announce beverages. How did the idea of dressing like that start off?
Kittin: Back then, I lived in Geneva. When we heard we would perform at Sónar, I had to think of a proper outfit – and I had zero idea. So I went to a shop where a friend of mine was working. They were selling all kind of stuff – sneakers, goth outfits, toys, and a few cheap costumes. I saw the nurse one and immediately thought it would be very visible on stage. And it was very cheap, probably less than twenty-five Swiss Francs.
It’s kind of scary how easy it is to use collective unconsciousness clichés. If I’d known, I would have thought of something a bit more elaborated. So when I hear people say I am in total control of my image, I laugh. In the end, it was probably a super great unconscious act because I do consider my job as nursing. When people go out, they like to be taken care of and loved, they want the performer to be in charge. I like that because if you do it with love and goodwill, you can do a lot of good for a huge amount of people at the same time. I can’t remember if we wrote the song The Nurse before or after that costume though. I like to think it inspired it.
I recently met Mr. DJ Hell and we were talking about his relationship with Michael because of his remix for Hell’s I Want You. Are you interested in remixing other artists nowadays or did you just do it because your relationship with Hell?
Kittin: I am in good terms with Hell, I always was. I'm not sure I can work with him again, but we have eternal respect and affection for each other. I don’t really like to do remixes simply because I am a songwriter first. I am not a producer, really, certainly not as The Hacker is. I do music ‘sometimes’, when I have an idea. I am not good at doing club tracks either as a DJ. I am good at writing songs, stories. I am probably the only official ‘DJ/songwriter’ (laughs).
The Hacker: I can do remixes for anybody, but when DJ Hell asked me, I said yes, of course. We’ve had a really good relationship throughout the years, and I was really happy with this remix. It fits perfectly with the current new beat/EBM sound.
I read you like Detroit Electro acts like Le Car and Dopplereffekt. And also, on the lyrics, you sing about death, snuff movies, and the imminence of the new millennium. So other than these, what were other referents or inspirations you had in the late-‘90s?
Kittin: It’s hard to remember, but I am mostly inspired by stuff I read and movies. I can hear or read a sentence, an expression, and write a story around it. It doesn’t mean I am a dark person. I like the aesthetic of it, I don’t like anything ‘hippy’ – flower power and shit. The Hacker is the same. And after all, I was writing things that had to fit with The Hacker’s music. I don’t think writing a song about sunshine and beach culture would have been very efficient.
The Hacker: Musically, at that time, I was rediscovering early-‘80s electronic new wave like early Soft Cell and Depeche Mode – and also a lot of EBM. I was trying to mix that with new stuff like Detroit electro (Dopplereffekt, Le Car, Adult, Drexcya, etc.), as well as a little touch of Italo disco. If you take all these elements, you have the early Miss Kittin and The Hacker sound.
Regarding the lyrics, Iggy Pop once said, “Keep it short and none of it will be wrong”. Seems Caroline agrees to this formula. Please explain this in your own words.
Kittin: I agree. Less is more. One punch line is enough. I love that exercise.
As a curiosity, do you know what ‘bakalao’ music is? It’s the term electronic music acquired during the late ‘80s in Spain – acid house days – due to the popular parties along the Mediterranean coast, with major emphasis around Valencia’s small beach towns, mixing techno-like sound with pop and rock tunes such as Sisters of Mercy, The Ramones, The Cult, and so on). People like Alan Vega could be seen around some of these Valencian discos at the time. Did you ever happen to show up in this scene?
Kittin: Bakalao was the very first kind of techno we heard in our local new wave club because a tour of Spanish DJs came by. We didn’t really like it, to be honest, but the club’s boss told me it was so successful that he started to book more DJs – and slowly, the club turned techno.
The Hacker: I remember this party in our city with all those Valencia DJs. It was in 1991 and the music was amazing. It was a mix of late EBM with techno, and even early hardcore. For a few years, this sound was amazing, but then, it became what they called ‘machina’ – and it was terrible, very commercial.
Are you currently touring or preparing anything special together with the momentum of the releasing of this EP?
Kittin: I am soon releasing my next LP.
The Hacker: We will do some gigs together as DJs.
After releasing this EP and remembering the good times in the ‘90s, are you guys working on new music together?
Kittin: Maybe, maybe not.
The Hacker: We’ll see.
The last one. We’ve talked about nostalgia, the ‘90s, etc. And it’s obvious that you’re two key major figures who have contributed a lot to electronic music these past decades. But looking at the present and future, could each of you tell me what emerging or ‘newer’ DJs excite you and give you hope for the years to come? Who should we keep an eye on?
Caroline: I recently saw a crazy live show in Moscow by Interchain. They’re two guys who could be sons of Liaisons Dangereuses. It was very punk, and old school, and super refreshing at the same time. They didn’t care!
The Hacker: Lokier. She’s very good, identified patient also, djedjotronic from France. The scene is pretty exciting right now; it’s a good period for music.

Victor Moreno

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