Interview: Tilted: Christine and The Queens

A certified star already back in France, the rest of the world is playing catch up with Christine and The Queens’ madcap pop.

“What would Christine do?” asks a sharp-suited Héloïse Letissier suddenly, almost upturning a cup of green tea in the process. “It’s a question I find myself asking a lot. What would she do?”

“What would Christine do,” exactly? Considering her track record thus far, just about anything. Last month saw Christine and her accompanying Queens standing in the middle of Dutch festival Best Kept Secret’s main stage, Christine holding biceps tensed, and yelling “I’m a dude!” at the top of her lungs. At a landmark sold-out show at London’s The Roundhouse earlier this year, – with a certain Elton John in attendance, no less – Christine danced so much that she split her trousers. “Things happen in London!” she grinned at the time, hurling flowers across the room, and welcoming every single attendee to an all-enveloping barrage of leaping dance routines, and plunking, subversive pop songs about finding freakish freedom in boundless expression. Christine and The Queens is about smashing free of every mould, and slipping away from definition.

Tilted

“Feeling like a boy, and sometimes wanting to be desired as a woman, or lurk after someone like a macho man – it’s something I’ve lived.”

— Héloïse Letissier

‘When I’m on stage nothing can happen to me, truly,” smiles Héloïse; who surprisingly claims to be very shy when it comes to her everyday, non-Christine existence. “It’s just a rectangle,” she quips, “a different floor. But I think it creates something really weird. The stage is like a ring, it’s like a fight. In a cool way.”

Born at London’s Madame Jojo’s, thanks to the occasionally forceful encouragement of the venue’s resident drag queens, Héloïse ‘s debut album, ‘Chaleur Humaine’, was written to get over a break-up, and back to herself. “They said, sing louder! Do something with your fucking sadness! “ she remembers “With Christine, I stopped trying to choose and make sense, and decided to feel,” Héloïse adds. “When I was creating Christine in the very beginning as a character, I was writing ‘Christine is my anger,’” she adds. That anger, she says, stems particularly from a society obsessed with neat boxes. “It’s something I’ve experienced, and felt, and lived with. Changing your mind, and feeling like a boy, and sometimes wanting to be desired as a woman, or lurk after someone like a macho man – it’s something I’ve lived,” she nods. “Christine was a statement about being an unusual little thing, moving and loving people,” Héloïse smiles, adding, “I’m attracted to characters that are queer. Michael Jackson, Björk, David Bowie, Laurie Anderson, Boy George. They were creatures. And I guess I want to be a creature as well.”

Tilted: Christine and The Queens Tilted: Christine and The Queens

“With Christine, I stopped trying to choose and make sense, and decided to feel.”

— Héloïse Letissier

Though her debut album ‘Chaleur Humaine’ is relatively new to our own shores, it’s been out for two years now in Héloïse’s native France. Coincidentally, the record arrived just as debate was raging in the country around the topic of gay marriage…”and I arrived with my flowers and gender-fluid songs, like ‘hi!’” laughs Héloïse, clearly delighted by the whole scenario. As stuffy conservatives squabbled away, there was Christine, flippantly declaring “I’m a man now,” on her song ‘iT’ and leaping around on stage in a tuxedo.

“I like to shift language within the space of one song,” Héloïse explains. “When you think about queerness, you think about language. Language itself can be a tool, or something to oppress you. If you change the gender of a word, suddenly it’s weird. Or if you say, constantly on stage, ‘I’m a man’ - being a young girl, and a tiny one -” she laughs referencing her own modest height, “it creates something interesting.”

Shifting rapidly between French and English with little regard for grammar or convention, and letting rip punchy, spiky-edged pop songs with a smirking side-helping of subversion, it’s dead exciting stuff, this. And now, the rest of the world is playing catch up.

Paradis Perdus

Christine and The Queens’s debut album ‘Chaleur Humaine’ is out now.

Christine and The Queens plays Latitude (14th -17th July) where DIY is an official media partner. Tickets are on sale now. Visit diymag.com/presents for more information.

Taken from DIY’s July 2016 issue, out now. Subscribe below.

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