We tend to stereotype female music artists as sensational and gorgeous women who create a buzz around the globe with their risqué music videos. We are accustomed to seeing materialistic women who hog the limelight in music courtesy of their ability to stun the eye with their looks, rather than soothe the ears with their tunes. We are made to believe that being a pop queen is the only brass ring that an aspiring female musician can grab on her road to success. Female pop stars may be some of the most talented and celebrated musicians in the world, but they certainly aren’t the only girls who can create magic with their music.
It is a well known fact that top echelon music producers and DJs in the world today are some of the most naturally gifted artists we have ever seen. They are not only known for their innate talent, but also for their acquired wisdom. DJ’s are perhaps the most intelligent class of musicians among them all. So can a woman step in this world, and make some noise?
Male Dominant Electronic Music
Unfortunately, the Electronic Dance Music scene is a male dominant industry. One could say that Disk Jockeying itself is a profession tailor made for energetic and dynamic men. However, this does not rule out a female presence and prominence in this community. A female artist can also stake her claim to be the best in this industry. A woman can break away from the confines of society and make a name for herself in the music industry without belly dancing and flip flopping. A woman can electrify the crowds at an Electronic Music festival in the same way that other more recognized male artists do.
Introducing Miss Kittin
None of the above statements could be taken seriously unless we had a real life example to back up the opinions. Thankfully, we have an exemplary example in Miss Kittin. You may not have heard her name as often as the likes of Tiesto and Hardwell. However, it can be said without a doubt that once you to get to know who she is, and her immense contributions to the Electronic Dance Music community, you will begin to see her in the same light as some of the best male artists in the world, let alone DJ’s.
Miss Kittin is the stage name of Caroline Herve, a French Electronic Music DJ, singer and songwriter. She was born in 1973 and has been an active musician since 1994. Her specialty lies in Electroclash, Synthpop, Techno and Tech House. At the age of 42, she is one of the few female DJ’s who have had a long and illustrious career in this industry.
She was born in the famous French city of Grenoble, which is located near the Alps. At a very young age, she was exposed to the exquisite sounds of some of the best artists of that time such as Genesis, Supertramp, Miles Davis, Pink Floyd, Maria Callas and of course The Beatles. This helped her to kindle her fire of passion for music as a child. It also gifted her with a sound knowledge of eloquent and artistic musical expressions. At the age of 6, Caroline learned how to play the piano on her own, and she was able to impress her family and friends by recreating melodies from the radio. This was a clear indication that she was a child prodigy. She was also taught the art of ballet at that young age, and she continued to practice it till she was 22 years old.
Caroline was a well educated young lady who finished high school in 1990 and then proceeded to study Art from the year 1991 to 1994. She was also enrolled in a graphic designs program, which she completed in 1995. Once her education was complete, she pursued the profession of a full time DJ.
The Birth of a Long Career
Kittin’s taste in music was similar to that of her parents. She was fond of classic, jazz, funk and disco. She also had a soft spot for English pop. However, it was the genre of Electronic music that enabled her to unleash her feisty potential. Kittin played rave music across the country before she came up with her first mix in April 1993. The first time she played an entire set was in the following year. At that initial stage in her career, she was managed by the Tekmics Booking Agency. By the tender age of 22, Kittin partnered up with Mike Dearborn and began to perform as a DJ in France, Russia (Moscow) and the United States (Chicago). An early breakthrough in her career occurred when she received bookings for the Dragon Ball events that were hosted in the southern France. This was the boost that she needed to become a young international starlet with a growing reputation. In 1996, she shifted to Geneva in Switzerland and signed with Mental Group Records. She released three miscellaneous artists’ compilations from 1996 to 1997.
Breakthrough EP Champagne
Richie Hawtin’s Fuse and Robert Hood’s The Protein Valve were the first records she purchased for Disk Jockeying purposes. Around 1998, she was met with certain financial challenges as it took her three long months to make enough money at her second job as a supermarket cashier to buy a second hand pair of Techniks decks. Astonishingly, both are still in use. She came into contact with DJ Hell in Marseille in 1998 who offered her the chance to record for his International DJ Gigolo label. She teamed up with The Hacker to record the EP Champagne, and handed the tracks over to DJ Hell. In 1999, DJ Hell and Kittin released an EP together called The Intimites. It contained a cover of the Eurythmic’s “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of this)”.
Beginning of the Ride with The Hacker
Miss Kittin & The Hacker unveiled their first album in 2001. It was met with positive reviews from contemporary critics and attained a commendable average score of 68/100 in the music review aggregation of Metacritic. The album was so well acclaimed that it made it to a number of “Best Albums of the Decade” lists. On the flipside, the album never appeared in the charts. However, more than 50,000 copies of Kittin’s first album was sold around the world. Several songs in the album such as “Frank Sinatra” and “1982” became synonymous with the Electrocrash and underground scene in Europe. According to Slant Magazine, the song “Frank Sinatra” was worthy of position 86 in the 100 Greatest Dance Song lists. Other noteworthy songs from the album are “Stock Exchange” and “The Beach”.
Other Collaboration Projects
On the back of the success of their first album, Miss Kittin & The Hacker went on tour. It was in this tour that she met Felix da Housecat at a Swiss festial. A day after they were introduced, Kittin and Felix collaborated to come up with “Silver Screen Shower Scene” and “Madame Hollywood” in a tiny studio in Geneva. She co-wrote and was featured on the “Voicemail” and “What Does it Feel Like?” These were two songs from Felix da Housecat’s album Kittenz and Thee Glitz. This collaboration project added to Miss Kittin’s credentials as a top flight DJ.
She followed this up with a role in Sven Vath’s single Je t’aime… moi non-plus, which was a cover of a song of the same name. After shooting for the single, she made a beeline for Berlin where she decided to work as an A&R consultant at Mute Records Germany.
Miss Kittin was far from being done with music however, in 2002, she came back with techno music compilations On the Road and Radio Caroline Vol.1. Both albums were well appreciated by fans and critics alike. With these albums, she established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the DJ community. She was no longer seen as a mere Electroclash Diva.
Golden Boy and Kittin teamed up to produce and release the album OR in 2002. The album was released under the North American based Emperor Norton Records. This is the same record that had released Miss Kittin & The Hacker’s first album. A single was released from the album by the name of “Rippin Kittin”. The single was endorsed by Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys and it soon became a massive hit in Europe. As a matter of fact, this single catapulted Miss Kittin to the numero uno in the UK Dance Singles Chart. It was included by Pitchfork Media in the list of the top 500 tracks of the 2000’s. The accolades kept coming as the single acquired the 75th spot in the Top 100 Singles of the 2000’s list compiled by Stylus Decade.
Further collaboration projects with Chicks On Speed streamlined her path to success. The songs “Shick Shaving” and “Wordy Rappinhood” in the 2003 99 cents album of Chicks On Speed were sung by Miss Kittin. This just goes to show that she was making full use of her multi dimensional musical talent.
First Solo Album “I Com”
In 2004, Miss Kittin finally released her solo debut album “I Com”. It was released through NovaMute in the UK and through Astralwerks in the United States. The album featured artists such as The Hacker, Toby Neumann and Thies Mynther. The favour of the contemporary critics befell on the album and Miss Kittin lived up to her reputation of receiving decent average scores on the music review aggregation of Metacritic. Three massive singles originated from the album, being “Professional Distortion”, “Requiem For a Hit” and “Happy Violentine”. Miss Kittin appeared on the French Singles Chart for the first time courtesy of the huge success of the “Professional Distortion” single. Remixes of these three singles were later made, compiled and released on a remix EP of Miss Kittin known as “Mixing Me”.
The year 2004 saw the formation of Kittin’s very own recording label, Nobody’s Bizzness. Under the umbrella of this label, her albums BatBox and Two were released, as she was no longer signed to NovaMute. This is what Miss Kittin had to say about her label; “I created my own label ‘Nobody’s Bizzness’ to release my finished album and keep the maximum freedom with my music”. 2004 was a year of many feats for the decorated female DJ as she collaborated with The Hacker once again to feature in their album Reves Mecaniques.
Live Sonar was released by Miss Kittin at the 2006 Sonar Electronic Music Festival in Barcelona. This had off the cuff new vocals to her pre-existing catalogue. During the festival, she shared the stage with Aphex Twin, Modeselektor, Boom Bip and The Hacker. Labels and NovaMute released the album together.
Second Solo Album “BatBox”
In the days that followed, Miss Kittin came up with a double disc CD called a “A Bugged Out Mix”. Resist Music and System Recordings jointly released the compilation in 2006. In 2008, following years of anticipation, Miss Kittin finally rewarded her fans with her second album called BatBox. BatBox had thirteen original songs that were created while she was on tour throughout the world. The production and release of the album was indeed strenuous for the blistering female DJ. The albums were promoted by the singles “Kittin is High” and “Grace”. In the same year, she reunited with her long time buddy The Hacker, and together they toured around the world. On tour, they experimented with a bunch of tracks that eventually led to their second album together called The Two.
Third Solo Album “Calling From the Stars”
In the year Miss Kittin released a single “All You Need” on Mobilee Records. 2 years later, in 2013, she came up with a double album called “Calling From the Stars” that included 23 brand new songs. The release of the third album after a gap of a few years, was a prime example of her longevity in this business.
Miss Kittin continues to be a beacon of hope for young and hopeful female Electronic musicians around the world. She has proven to all of us that boys aren’t the only ones who can have fun behind the turn table and in the studio.