An interview with coucou chloé

, 6 October 2016

French producer coucou chloé drops her first official release, entitled Halo EP on October 5. She’s already developed a strong following through a series of internet uploads, such as ‘tears for fears’ — an emotional and delicately barren track composed of guitar and affected voice — as well as more hi-tech, futuristic sounding songs such as ‘Pearl’, a collaboration with Egyptian producer 1127. The EP, with its lead single ‘skin like sin’, comes via Berlin-based platform for digital culture Creamcake.

Aside from her solo music, chloé is also one half of Y1640 — a collaborative project with producer Sega Bodega, who presents a monthly soundtrack series on London’s NTS Radio. Tracks like ‘SPIT INTENT offer something arguably more dance-oriented. Indeed, she’s currently more focused on making music for the club as opposed to her more contemplative, ambient side, and while her solo music is generally slower, more vocal-laden, chloé regards her two projects as being in dialogue with one another.

coucou chloé is due to perform at Berlin’s 3hd Festival on Wednesday October 12 at OHM for a night of ‘Speculative Futurism’, alongside other acts like Music For Your Plants, ssaliva, and Ink Agop. “Playing live is the occasion to make my music inhabit a brand new space”, she says. “I’m going to play a lot of unreleased things… I’m going to sing a lot”. According to the festival program, “her crooked ballads offer romance without sentimentality on wavy vocal pitch-shifting and contemplative simulated environments that posit a passion for the future”.

From making initial contact via Soundcloud, the relationship with Creamcake came about online-organically. “I followed them… and they followed me back”, she explains on Skype, highlighting the ease of building internet connections. “They proposed to me to be a part of 3hd Festival and then asked if I wanted to release some tracks on [the Creamcake label]. I had in mind to make an EP really soon so it was good timing”. The facility of the internet extends to access and autonomy, as well as being a catalogue of chloé’s own musical preferences. She singles out niche act Kid Kishore (who also plays at 3hd as HVAD) and English Baroque composer Henry Purcell as two favourites.

Originally from Nice, she studied contemporary art at the Villa Arson and is now based in London after deciding to focus solely on production. “I started to take [music] more seriously in the last couple of months”, she says. Listening to it, you’d think she’d been honing it longer, which might be down to its weight in narrative; music for her is “a space to create and recreate stories”. In conversation, chloé talks about her upcoming release, her musical friends and Soundcloud likes, performing at 3hd, and her own thoughts on futurism.

coucou chloé (2016). Photograph. Courtesy the artist.
coucou chloé (2016). Photograph. Courtesy the artist.

You have a new release coming — what can we expect?

coucou chloé: This is the first time I’m really thinking about a project as a whole. I made the first track and it built quite naturally. I wanted to have a really aggressive kick, something quite clubby. I have one track that is more chilled, really soft, which I kept for the end of the EP.  

Are you pleased with how it’s turned out?

cc: I can see that my music has taken another direction and I’m really happy with that. I’m practicing a lot and learning how to make beats. I see it growing as I learn more. To put it into an EP is really cool for me.

The night you’re playing at 3hd is called ‘Speculative Futurism’ — how do you think this theme relates to your music?

cc: The futurism thing I can elaborate on, in how easy it is today to have all these things in your hands. You can just sit on the bed and make an orchestral piece without knowing any theoretical things about music. The possibility to share it. I think it’s a generational thing, everybody is becoming very autonomous.

What does your live show involve?

cc: I’m going to play a lot of unreleased things and tracks from my side project Y1640. I’m going to sing a lot. When I’m recording or producing, I’m building things in an intimate space, in my room or studio. Playing live is the occasion to make my music inhabit a brand new space.

Can you tell us more about Y1640? How did you get to working together with Sega Bodega?

cc: I went to London to meet him and we began to make a track. We decided we wanted something more clubby, more rhythm, so we tried to do that. We were happy with it so [we] were like, let’s continue to make music together. We have some tracks that we’re going to release, really clubby tracks.  

How does your music as Y1640 differ from that as coucou chloé?

cc: Sega Bodega showed me a lot of things to make beats. Of course it fits the way I make music too but I think it’s different. I think Y1640 is more club. I try to make things like this too but it’s more in a classical song structure for me. I think in my own music there’s more voice and it’s more slow. It’s hard for me to say but, in a way, Y1640 and coucou chloé are talking to each other, like they are in link.

Where does inspiration for your music come from?

cc: It’s hard for me to answer because I don’t have a specific process of inspiration. I think I can be inspired by a tune I heard, the ambience of a room, a bunch of words that someone said in the street, the way I want to move in a club. I don’t really know where all my tracks come from.

What are you listening to lately?

cc: Can I check on my Soundcloud likes? I have different periods when I’ll listen to only one thing. There’s one track that I’m really crazy about. Do you know Henry Purcell? I’m going to link you… [sends link] One person I really admire is Arca, for the complexity and richness. Also Kid Kishore.  

You’ve also done radio shows on Hotel Radio Paris — can you tell us about this?

cc: It’s a common misunderstanding that I had a monthly show. I played on Hotel Radio Paris twice and I probably will in the future. It supports me and I support it. I think it’s amazing to have this kind of radio in France. It really needed it and it’s great to watch it grow.

coucou chloé (2016). Press image. Courtesy the artist.
coucou chloé (2016). Press image. Courtesy the artist.

What can you say of the ‘scene’ in France?

cc: I don’t think in terms of a French scene or London scene because, for me, I can be in my bed and have access to, talk to, or be a part of lots of different scenes because of the internet and community with Soundcloud and all these things. What I can say, a French thing that is different for me than all the others is the Jorrdee crew, the 667. This is the scene I follow a bit in France.

Is there anyone you’d like to invite for potential future radio shows?

cc: I didn’t really think about it. I’d like to make one with Y1640. For my first show I was supposed to do it alone and I saw Jorrdee the night before and was like, ‘what do you do tomorrow because I have a radio show, if you want come with me and we make something together on it’. This is how it happened, so I don’t really plan every artist.

Having studied contemporary art at Villa Arson, do you think your art education has informed the way you make music?

cc: I think so. It’s a bit weird. I stopped piano when I was younger and I wanted to find a way to make music but not have to learn everything again. I think I used art maybe to be like, ‘okay, you have to experiment a lot because you have the freedom to’. I think I tried a lot of different things with that, thinking about process. It was a way for me to make sounds without learning a lot of technique, though of course there’s a lot of technical things to know. I understand that that was not what I wanted to do. I just wanted to sit on a laptop and try to make music so I said, ‘okay, now I want to stop art school and just focus on music’, because all I wanted to do is music.**

coucou chloé’s debut EP HALO is out via Berlin’s Creamcake/3hd on October 5. She performs ‘Speculative Futurism’ at 3hd Festival on October 142, 2016.

Header image: Courtesy coucou chloé.