“I usually drink black filter coffee, it’s a slow process, but also a good meditative process which I have introduced to my mornings.” reflects CHLOÉ, capturing the essence of her approach to life and music: contemplative, grounded, yet constantly evolving.
Esteemed as a techno DJ and producer, CHLOÉ’s journey through the electronic music landscape has been marked by an adventurous spirit, embracing diverse genres from minimal techno to indie electronic, and even alternative rock. Born in Paris, Chloé Thevenin has become a pivotal figure in the scene, known for her expansive and genre-blurring sets. “I’m obsessed with music and that continues to drive me,” she shares, an attitude that resonates deeply with her artistry. At the helm of her Lumière Noire Records label, she has continued to push the boundaries of electronic music, building a vibrant community of innovative artists and listeners.
In our interview, we talk about her creative process, the evolution of the electronic music scene, and the future of Lumière Noire Records.
photography by Sarah Makharine
It’s such a pleasure to have you with us, CHLOÉ. Before we delve into your music, tell us: what’s a simple pleasure or ritual that brightens your day?
Thank you for having me, it’s a pleasure. Before I start my day, I usually take time to make coffee. It helps to start my day, especially after a long weekend.
Starting with your early days, what was the first song or album that truly resonated with you and influenced your musical direction?
I’m forever in love with the Velvet Underground & Nico album from 1967. It’s probably one of those albums that introduced me to guitars when I was a teenager. I guess it has kind of created an invisible effect on my influences. It is this kind of timeless and addictive album where the style is difficult to qualify: shoe gaze meets drone, or maybe lo fi music meets experimental rock? They were going the opposite of sophisticated, which I found awesome. The sound is mainly distorted, and they even don’t play perfectly, but the culmination of all these imperfections creates something vulnerable, which I love and find touching.
Back in June, you played in Ibiza with Solomun, and it wasn’t your first time. What differentiates the Ibiza crowd from other audiences and makes it so special?
Ibiza is mainly focused on parties during the summer which sets it apart from other audiences, they know music and what they like. The island is obsessed with clubs and parties. I love playing at Solomun’s party in Pacha, it’s always very special event. I also love Circoloco at DC-10 which has an amazing audience. Solomun is a great artist who has an approach to club culture I feel close to. We all share the night together and take the time to build our sets, separately and then with a b2b, it’s unique for the island.
You often play all-night-long sets, taking audiences on unexpected journeys. How do you prepare for these extensive sessions, and is there a specific mindset or routine you adopt to ensure you keep the energy flowing?
Extended sets create special suspended moments with the audience. I like to keep it special, so I would generally play them in specific places I feel connected with, that of course, have a great sound system. It’s nice to have time to build a vibe and share all the music I’ve been digging for some many years. It can go from new stuff, to sounds I used to play many years ago, to discoveries I made from new artists and labels that week, and sometimes new tracks I made that week. It’s a fun and creative process. I feel it is a never-ending story and that’s what I’ve been doing for about thirty years. There’s a lot of space for intuition and feeling as each club, venue, crowd, festival has its own identity. It’s a subtle risky balance, so there’s no routine at all, and that keeps it exciting.
“When I started to DJ, I never thought electronic music would have become as big as it is today…
Having your music showcased at the Tate Modern for ANIMA must have been a unique experience. Can you share any memorable feedback you received from attendees or fellow artists?
ANIMA is an immersive multidisciplinary installation, a transversal project that reunites photographer Noémie Goudal, director Maelle Poesy, suspensive artist Chloé Moglia, and I. I feel it isn’t so common to offer an installation that is at the crossroads of visual, photographic, musical, video. It definitely shakes things up and has a kind of radicalism that never leaves the audience unconcerned. The music I made begins quietly, and slowly gets more intense, until it goes to a kind of sub beat / hardcore beat (135 bpm).
It’s always funny to hear the comments after the performance. Some people are not comfortable with this transversal project. It would be easier of course to define the installation, but you really must take it as it comes, it is an experience. It was shown at some of the most beautiful art centers including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Tate Modern in London, PS21 Chatham in NY and the Yvon Lambert Gallery in Avignon … it definitely doesn’t look like anything else.
Given your diverse range of performances, from clubs to museums, where do you feel most at home, and why?
Working collaboratively on an installation project like ANIMA, a dance show like I do on Maud le Pladec’s shows, or even composing for film scores. It’s not at all the same work as DJ’ing in a club or producing for myself. It’s a matter of responding to a commission and collaborating with an artist who already has a point of view and wants you to be part of it to help build his own idea altogether. The music is the culmination of months of work and exchange, and the music helps to achieve a very specific idea, with a specific editing and score. Whereas when I DJ in a club, the music is played and built for a given time and space, it’s a very direct moment, and we build according to the mood of the moment.
Both processes are the opposite of one another, but at the same time very complementary. I can’t say I prefer one or the other, as it’s a satisfying balance where one enriches the other.
“Extended sets create special suspended moments with the audience… There’s a lot of space for intuition and feeling as each club, venue, crowd, festival has its own identity.”
You once said, ‘I never thought I would do this as a job but today after 30 years in electronic music, I am still here.’ What continues to drive your passion after all these years?
When I started to DJ, I never thought electronic music would have become as big as it is today. It was a very intimate and underground scene, and I definitely didn’t think I would be a DJ and producer for a living. I didn’t really have any projection, I started to DJ at college, and then went to a University of Law. But the very essence of electronic music is that it’s constantly changing. Today electronic music is everywhere, and there’s always the surprise of encounters and moments. There’s a lot of music coming out, new artists, events, trends. It’s interesting to see what’s being made and to intuitively fit inside. I’m galvanized after playing in a club, as much as making music. I’m obsessed with music and that continues to drive me.
I also read that you find inspiration in books, your travels, feelings you have for someone, and movies. So, we’re curious: What was the last movie that inspired you?
Recently, I saw the brilliant drama thriller movie ‘Anatomy of a from French director Justine Triet. A man falls out of a window and the experts discuss how the body fell, his wife is under suspicion. He got into the habit of recording his daily routine: there’s a desynchronization of images and sounds because of this recording that creates incredible confusion. I find this brilliant to see how sound can create images.
When I was a teen, I was obsessed with movies, and the power of music in movies. I loved what American composer Wendy Carlos composed for ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (1971) by Stanley Kubrick, or the orchestral Arabic harmony composed by Maurice Jarre on Lawrence d’Arabie (David Lean), also the soundtrack of ‘Grease’ (1978). I found fascinating to see how sound design has taken more space in the sound spectrum of a movie, like in ‘The Birds’ by Alfred Hitchcock (1963), ‘Apocalypse Now’ from Coppola (1979), and specially Chris Marker « La Jetée » (1962) … the subjectivity is translated by using the voice over and experimental sounds, industrial ambiences created by Trevor Duncan.
Your next release is due on the 27th October, a remix for Donato Dozzy’s alias Il Quadro di Troisi fort he single ‘On The Site‘. Were there any challenges you faced during your remix for this single? Can you walk us through your ideas on what and how you wanted this to sound?
Il Quadro di Troisi is a special side project of Donato Dozzy and Eva Geist. I like both universes together and separately. Also, Donato has produced a nice remix of one track’s album of our duo project with Vassilena Serafimova, out on Lumière noire records. I liked the Italo-Disco / Synth Pop inspiration with Eva Geist’s vocals used like a filmic monologue. I tried to keep it close from what they proposed, with a soft dreamy deep house interpretation.
“The very essence of electronic music is that it’s constantly changing… There’s a lot of music coming out, new artists, events, trends.”
Let’s talk about Club Pulp and the ’90s LGBT scene in Paris. Considering Club Pulp’s significance during that time, how do you perceive the evolution of the music and club scenes since the Pulp era, particularly regarding representation and inclusivity?
I started to be involved in the electronic music world in the mid-90s in Paris, at that time electronic music was underground and was mainly happenings in rave parties outside cities, or in small gay parties in Paris. We kind of all knew each other, as that music was unknown, but we felt something powerful was going on. It was a good mix of genres and styles, a place of tolerance and safe space for the marginalized communities. Pulp was the only club night run by lesbians who allowed men inside the venue, if they behaved. It was the first place to break down the barriers between gender with a modern punk spirit. Some harassment is still happening today, the new generation of promoters, DJs, artists, and clubbers must continue educate people, and keep the club as a safe space, create protected places from violence and harassment.
Today there isn’t a club dedicated only for girls anymore, but there are the legendary Barbi(e)turix girls’ nights. I play regularly for them, and it has always been a bit of a special night as they are today’s ‘Riot Grrrl’. An alternative, musical, feminist movement, involved in art and action. The collective has never stopped offering parties for girls, beyond the small clubs and cellars, in a quality clubbing format, playing queer artists, for girls, but not only. I have contributed on their second compilation with a track called ‘Warm Gun’, it features 18 talented artists from the queer scene.
With Lumière Noire Records being based on open-mindedness, what’s your future plan for your label? Do you see it changing in the next few years?
We are releasing an extended version of our album Sequenza, we made with marimba player Vassilena Serafimova this month on Lumière Noire records. It includes remixes by Krikor, Irène Dresel, Donato Dozzi, Pional, and an exclusive track. We are at the end of our album tour, we will play on of our last show of the year in Paris on the 4th December at Théatre de l’Athénée, we are looking forward. Also, we are working on the 2nd EP with French artist Nicol, Sapphyst Eye … we have a year fully booked but we stay aware with the music world as things are changing so quickly. We used to make vinyls on each release, nowadays it seems more complicated as the cost has increased a lot, and deadlines are very long. But we are still very excited with all music we get, listen to and release.
Next SEQUENZA Live in Paris
4 of December at Théâtre de l ‘Athénée
Extended album available here:
In a past interview, you noted that you’d consider working in a coffee shop instead of being a lawyer. So, how do you drink your coffee?
In any case, I didn’t become a lawyer, and I don’t work in a coffee shop. I used to study law for few years at university, but I was also partying, DJ’ing, making music. I guess I was trying to escape reality. I haven’t totally finished my degree, but besides this, I‘ve learned to make good coffee! I usually drink black filter coffee, it’s a slow process, but also a good meditative process which I have introduced to my mornings.
What’s one of the most beautiful French sentences we should learn?
Je sais que je ne sais rien (Socrate)
I know I don’t know anything