Louisahhh - Headline DJ - FF#18

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This Saturday, the basement of Dalston Superstore for our Bank holiday Fèmmme Fraîche special, will be graced with one of Techno’s most talented and enticing artists. Arguably as many would claim Louisa Pillot aka Louisahhh!!! wears the crown as the ‘Queen of Techno’ and the New-York raised, Parisian based artist packs quite a punch, as the exclamation marks that sequent her name might suggest. You can expect no-holds-barred, balls-to-the-floor, thumping, razor-edged, hard-hitting, audacious and uncompromisingly dirty Techno. As a highly acclaimed DJ, Producer and vocalist, the multi-disciplined Louisahhh!!! has many hits to her name, and her effortlessly-cool, nonchalantly-delivered spoken vocals, are the back-bone of her tracks that also weave illustriously throughout her DJ sets, which are always peppered and garnished with many of her own productions. 

Louisahhh!!!’s cross-Atlantic move from New-York to France in the early 2010’s, working alongside moguls such as Maelstrom, Brodinski and Dave Clarke, cemented her name as a Techno talent, but her musical journey however, hasn’t always been the smoothest of rides. After being committed to rehab and recovering from addition in her early 20’s, she’s now been clean from drugs & alcohol for over a decade and lives a life of musical Zen, with the clarity, ardency and enthusiasm that continues to keep her career growing from strength to strength. 

One of the most industrious and enchanting headline guests we’ve had the fortune to host at Fèmmme Fraîche, we’re delighted to have a chat with Louisahhh!!! Prior to her set on Saturday 25th Aug, to get to get the lowdown on the nitty gritty and glitz and glamour of one of Techno’s brightest stars. 

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Hi Louisa, thanks for having a chat with us, we’re super excited to have you play for us this coming Saturday. We want to take you right back to the beginnings, what first inspired you to start DJ-ing? And how did you derive your first ever set?

I started DJing as a musician with terrible stage fright when I was a teenager; DJing had the performance element without the anxiety. My first set ever was with one of my dearest friends, Nico XO, in the death trap crows nest of a DJ booth of what was then known as Bar 11. I think it included ‘Magic Dance’ from Labyrinth (by the Muppets and David Bowie), it was a total shitshow and the most fun.

And look how far you've come since those days! Do you remember the first ever record you bought? What was it?

Honestly, I don’t remember. I am actually of the age that I started DJing on (albeit crappy) CDJs, so it was a lot of really ghetto limewire low bitrate tracks burned to CD. I have found myself playing a lot of songs I started djing with again more recently, like ‘To The Music’ by Colder, with whom I presently have the pleasure of working, an amazing full circle thing.

The good old Limewire days! I gather your early DJ days were spent spinning electroclash, dance-rock and indie-dance; how did this then develop into the harder-edged electronic based House and Techno music you’re renowned for now?

The longer I do this, the more myself I become. As I mentioned, I feel like some of the mainstays of the early days have once again become playable as my own productions return to home: more industrial, song-structured work. I love big, tough techno, but I also love Nine Inch Nails and Garbage, and I think I’ve found a middle ground that is entirely my own.

Completely, Ok so if you could select three seminal tracks that have helped carve your career what would they be?

Choosing three is impossible!

I’d say today, the songs that come to mind are ‘Hammering in my Head’ by Garbage, ‘Altered Ego’ by Floorplan and ‘Make it Happen’ by Playgroup. If you’re talking about my own tracks, I’d honestly have no idea – the ones that are ‘important’ to my career are not the ones that are necessarily the most meaningful to me as an artist as I write this. I don’t have a favourite child.

Three really great tracks there though. Can you describe your most memorable DJ set to date and what made it so?

Utterly impossible to answer this question. The most memorable one of the past month was at Alpha Future People in Russia, which was one of the most insane festivals I’ve ever been to...just a wild trip. This job has the blessing of actually creating too many ecstatic, beautiful memories to be able to pick one.

A blessing indeed, but as a dichotomy i’d like, if you don’t mind, to chat about your drug and alcohol abstinence. The DJ life, quite often goes hand-in-hand with drugs, alcohol and partying. I myself abstain while I’m performing, out of personal preference, which is often met by peers and punters with bewilderment and often pressure to succumb. Yours I understand comes from a journey of addiction and commendable recovery; do you often find yourself having to explain your abstinence? And does this make it difficult sometimes? Do you ever find yourself feeling tempted and what do you find keeps you strong in those moments?

I am quite adamant and happy to talk about my recovery and resulting abstinence, if asked, because a lot of people think that drinking and using is a necessary part of this lifestyle and it’s truly not; I definitely wouldn’t be able to have a creative life and tour if I was still in my addiction. I think because I am super ‘out’ about sobriety, I don’t necessarily get pressed or asked that much, but it is the most precious thing to me in this life, so whatever happens, safeguarding that and sticking to my primary purpose of staying clean and helping another addict or alcoholic do the same is imperative. I find that my ability to resist the allure of drugs and alcohol is based exclusively on my spiritual maintenance and growth, so if I’m finding myself tempted, it’s a symptom that I have some work to do in that area. In this line of work one can’t expect the people around you to make a ‘safe space’ for sobriety because they’re most likely out to enjoy and partake in drugs and alcohol; if I want to protect my sobriety, it’s my job to do so, not anybody else’s. If that means I have to re-configure my life around new values, so be it..

That's truely inspiring to hear. Other DJ’s often fuel their careers and energy with drugs and alcohol, especially those with gruelling tour schedules, and as a sober DJ it’s easier to notice; do you find yourself growing concerned about DJ peers often? and how do you tackle this personally or how do you think the industry can help tackle the issue?

I think its really important to be clear that enjoying drugs and alcohol (even too much sometimes), and being an addict or an alcoholic (in which case one is powerless over substances and life becomes unmanageable) are totally different things. However, this industry that we’re in sustains itself mostly by selling booze and ‘good times’ surrounding it. Clearly, by doing this job, I am co-signing that; I’d be lying to myself if I wasn’t. I am not an expert in mental health or addiction but I have struggled with both, and I can safely say that it is not the fault of nightlife that these perils exist; however, because of the effect that club culture - the celebration of debauchery, insane tour schedules, sleeplessness, etc. have on the human brain, I think it’s imperative that our community offer resources for artists struggling. NARAS in the USA has ‘MusiCares’, or the Musician’s Assistance Program that allows anyone working in the industry access to confidential help, be it for addiction or medical issues, including mental health. It would be great if the dance music community worldwide could figure out how to help each other in a similar way. On a personal level, I try to talk about my own struggles that I might help others suffering in a similar way.

Yes and in the UK there's Music Minds Matter (For those interested) So Fèmmme Fraîche, pride ourselves on being a platform for supporting female and female identified DJ’s and creatives, subtly rather than aggressively - we simply do, without the need to say or vocalise something that’s self-explanatory. We don’t believe DJ needs the prefix ‘female’ that ‘all-female line-up’ needs to be exclaimed and the question ‘what does it feel like to be a female DJ’ is certainly something we wouldn’t ask any of our DJ's, however I gather you’re quite vocal about fighting gender disparity in the music industry and without keeping discussions alive, progression can’t happen. We’re certainly at an exciting time for breakthrough in terms of equality and diversity, but there’s still a long way to go. What do you think are the key things we need to focus on, to continue making headway?

Usually when I get asked this I just tell the interviewer to stop asking me, and ask everyone else in this business why they aren’t booking/celebrating/hiring/managing/promoting people other than CIS white men in dance music. Because you’ve gotten that covered, I think it’s my responsibility as a label owner, DJ, producer, etc. who is vocal about this to put my money where my mouth is and mentor, sign, support, celebrate women and gender non-binary people who are making brave, challenging, beautiful, interesting work.

Absolutely! So of course, you can’t escape the recent news about Jackmaster and the allegations he’s facing and not wanting to discuss the matter directly, it does raise the question about the treatment women often face in clubs and other spaces. ‘Safe Space’ is certainly a term we like to use and try to uphold, but how can we go further to ensure Clubs, Festivals and Music spaces really are safe from unwanted abuse?

Honestly, as club culture (along with the rest of the world) proves itself worthy of a ‘me too’ moment, I think it comes down to the need for a re-socialization of men and women; how we interact and what we expect from each other, how we hold each other accountable and support each other growing towards something better than where we are now. The part that I think we often fail to recognize as we go through this uncomfortable growth spurt is that this is what progress looks like. The fact that people are now being called out on bad behaviour that was previously acceptable, that there is a conversation about it, that people are starting to question themselves and their own experiences as either victims or persecutors, this is the work that is imperative to change. The important part, I believe, is to not let this be a hashtag or a piece of slanderous clickbait, but something that we can talk about and move forward from. Nightlife is as sick as anywhere when it comes to misogyny and rape culture, but we can change that.

Quite right! So getting back on topic of music, I wanted to talk about your forthcoming album, when can we expect this to drop and what should we expect to hear?

I wish I had a definite release date, alas I’m still navigating finding a partner for this record (other than RAAR) in the US and UK. It definitely feels like a departure, or a return home - it’s much more a ‘pop’ record than a club record, but it works both ways, it’s heavy and gnarly and lush and beautiful and I’m so ecstatic about it – I can’t wait for you to hear it.

We're super excited to hear it! and what can we expect to hear from your set on Saturday at Fèmmme Fraîche?

I’m excited to play a lot of new original material, and really bang it out, slow gabber vibes. We’ll see what the crowd is up for, but I have a good feeling about this one.

We can't wait! So finally, apart from Fèmmme Fraîche, where else can we see you playing in the coming months?

This weekend is gonna be intense, going from Nice to London for you guys, to Derry, to Newcastle. In September and October, I’ll be playing in Ankara (Turkey), a ton of gigs in France, Los Angeles and a couple dates in Spain come November. Look forward to seeing you guys in the pit!

Excellent! and we look forward to seeing and hearing you at Fèmmme Fraîche on Saturday! Thanks for the interview and for those of you reading, there's a little taster mix from Louisahhh!!! just below and don't forgot to follow her on her socials just underneath. see you Saturday!!!