Tonight at Paris’ Centre Pompidou, French DJ and producer Chloé Thévenin – or Chloé, as she’s known – will perform Chasser Croiser/The Surreal and Its Echo, a soundpiece harnessing the voices of the great Surrealist heroes of the 1920s: Man Ray, Duchamp and Aragon. Far from pasting together an audio collage, the artist, stimulated by an irregular strobe rhythm, will build an unfurling, atmospheric sound work – using dream, desire and revolt as her inspiration. The aim? To underline the irrational. Commissioned by long-running French radio show Atelier de Création Radiophonique, the forty minute performance will be broadcast on air November 3.
Chloé is regarded for her pulsating, body and mind stimulating sets at clubs such as Frankfurt’s Robert Johnson or Paris’ The Rex; as well as stellar remixes, podcasts and studio albums on Kill The DJ records. She is revered too as an emblematic resident of (brilliant) defunct club Le Pulp, which brought her to notoriety in the early 00s. A leading figure in electronic music today, Chloé is the techno DJ that breaks convention by collaborating with other artists such as choreographers, performers and filmmakers. She makes noir-y acoustic tracks to be discovered and manages to inject fragility into even the most banging dancefloor moment. Releasing a book of her photographs and memories, as a parallel to this special performance, further underlines her without-borders approach.
What can we expect from the Centre Pompidou performance of Chasser Croiser/The Surreal and Its Echo?
The live that I will present at Centre Pompidou will be different from the live I propose in my touring festival, it will be more experimental. This project is full of soundscapes, voice changes, melodies; allowing me to enter my music even further, going further and challenging technical elements.
It’s a compliment to your very personal book, through éditions Dis Voir, which collects memories from your life.
Yes, and this radiophonic project will be released on a CD that comes with it. It’s published by Dis Voir (ZagZig), Franck Smith and Philippe Langlois, co-ordinators of the program. They have already published books and CDs with Laurie Anderson, Jonas Mekas, Lee Ranaldo/Sonic Youth, Ryoji Ikeda, Dennis Cooper/Gisèle Vienne/Peter Rehberg. Chasser-Croiser/Le Surréel et Son Écho consists of my photos taken during trips, tours and live DJ sets as well as notes, projects, albums, collaborations, and excerpts from notebooks.
Is it true you never travel without notebooks?
I’ve always taken a lot of notes – when travelling, when I’m inspired. And I have a huge collection I’ve kept for years. I really like the idea of collecting them in the same way I like the idea of collecting vinyl, especially nowadays when everything is getting more and more dematerialised. It’s why I’m very proud to have this book, the chance to make a special object of my work.
Beyond the live performance, how has Surrealism left its mark on you?
The Surrealists leave an important freedom to dream; poetry and love.
Techno is often treated one-dimensionally. You're well-read, cultured and have consistently showed electronic music to be amongst the most stirring and relevant expressions of our time.
I consider electronic music as a way to produce music and be totally free. I am totally independent when creating – and that freedom is a real boost to my work. I've always composed without setting limits or styles. Yes, I am a DJ, playing club music, but I can also play different stuff, especially when doing a warm-up set. I also compose slow songs, and have done since my first EP released in 2002 on Karat, followed by my albums on Kill The DJ (The Waiting Room, 2007; One in Other, 2010).
Do you have any ambitions to realise and what's next?
I wish to continue to DJ, producing club music and embarking on alternative projects that nourish me. I have an EP released on BPitch Control in late November 2011. I'm finishing a remix on My Favorite Robot records, and I’ve participated in a track on the new album by Scratch Massive, Nuit De Rêve.
Text by Dean Mayo Davies