Dance Music for the Queer and the Weird
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Stop thinking. Just dance.
By Rozena Crossman
Héloïse Letissier is the strange, fabulous, gender-bending 27-year-old rocking French radio under the pseudonym Christine and the Queens. She is a fan of Michael Jackson, Simone de Beauvoir and Pina Bausch. Madonna, Lorde and Mark Ronson are fans. Since her performance at this year’s Diane von Fürstenberg Awards, where she sang to Hillary Clinton, Naomi Campbell and Gloria Steinem, her sound is drifting to the other side of the pond.
She’s a friend to the queer, the weird and those who society unjustly fears. Her hit “Saint Claude” is about a bus ride in Paris where passengers were mocking a strange-looking man sitting in the back. Letissier, disgusted at their hatred and her own inability to speak up, got off at the next stop, Saint Claude, and wrote what would become one of the top 10 singles on the French charts. “We accept you” is tattooed on one of her hands, “one of us” on the other — famous lines from the 1932 movie Freaks.
In London, Letissier befriended a trio of drag queens who encouraged her to sing.
“Christine” comes from her first and only album, Chaleur Humaine (“human warmth”) in French and Titled in English. Directed by J.A.C.K. and choreographed by Marion Motin — known for her work with Belgian artist Stromae — the music video is the essence of Christine and the Queens: catchy, androgynous, French and unapologetically out there. The song is a tribute to her alter ego, her stage persona. Letissier understands what it is to be an outsider and feels more comfortable performing than existing in day-to-day life: “I start a book at the end / I hold my chin high for nothing … I can’t stay upright / the sky drips onto my hands.”
Originally a theater student, Letissier moved to London in 2010 after a breakup with a girlfriend who transitioned to male. In the city that gave birth to Ziggy Stardust and Eddie Izzard, she befriended a trio of drag queens who encouraged her to sing. Today, she’s back in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, rocking out solo.
Christine and the Queens’ album was released in the United Stated by Neon Gold Records, which represents female stars such as Haim, Marina and the Diamonds, Charli XCX, Ellie Goulding and Icona Pop. Her work is bilingual — the single “The Loving Cup” is completely in English while “Saint Claude” is composed of French lyrics with an English chorus. All of Letissier’s beats translate to excellent dance music.
- Rozena Crossman, OZY AuthorContact Rozena Crossman