Louisahhh!!! is the Queen of French Techno
There’s something strange—perhaps even contradictory—about Louisahhh!!!, the New York-bred, Paris-based DJ with one of the most memorable aliases in recent memory.
The extra letters and exclamation marks in her name, and her online bio's insistance that she is “thrilled to be alive and loves you so much,” all convey an over-the-top eagerness—like she’s running towards the world screaming, arms open wide. But that ecstatic public persona is immediately subverted by her music: dark, sexy, and undeniably French house and techno, often paved with Louisahhh!!!’s own low and smoky voice talking over the growling basslines, sounding not unlike the icy vocals of Ladytron.
Her latest EP, Traces, features updated takes by way of techno DJs Perc and Dave Clarke on “Night Clubbing” and “Rough & Tender,” two songs she released earlier this year with another techno mainstay, Maelstrom—a man she describes as “my favorite human.”
Like almost all her previous work, the EP was released on her buddy and frequent collaborator Brodinski’s label Bromance Records—a celebrated arbiter of snarling, dancefloor-friendly techno perhaps best popularized by the mysterious human cigarette, Gesaffelstein.
Louisahhh!!! and the Bromance Records crew are now on a summer tour, with stops at Brooklyn’s Output, the HARD Summer festival, and various American cities through August. During a recent phone call from her hotel room in Seattle, she attributed her rather zany moniker to “growing up in New York City and doing lots of drugs and partying a lot.” The band !!! was popular during her most hedonistic years, and she liked the idea of being allowed to pronounce their name by making literally any sounds you wanted. “I’ve kind of been wanting to change [my name], because I’m a grown up now and should be taken seriously. But I think it’s too late now,” she said, sounding not at all mad about it.
About the dichotomy between the bubbly cheerfulness of her image and the darkness of her music, she sees this split as a central issue at the heart of what her music is all about. “A lot of my personal prerogative is about using the darkness to see the light—to touch the darker stuff and not be afraid, while maintaining an attitude of awesomeness and gratitude.” Bromance Records works perfectly for this mission, because they’re “all about sinister club music, so my music fits right in.”
Her sound might fit Bromance Records like a tight, shiny black latex glove, but Louisahhh!!! is fully aware that she is somewhat of an outsider amongst their ranks—the only American girl amidst a crowd of French dudes. Which sort of makes her like Uffie, another American who shares her babydoll eyes, affinity for French imprints (Uffie’s label of choice being Ed Banger Records, of course), and Manic Pixie Dream Girl vibes. “The reason why I’m in the crew is because I’m not like everybody else. I try not to feel too self-conscious about it,” Louisahhh!!! maintained.
At first, she was reluctant to play the part of female vocalist within the group, because it seemed too token and cliché. “My hesitation had to do with not wanting to be the girl singer doing the house songs—cause that’s lame. I didn’t want to cheapen the dream,” she said.
Regardless, she did it anyway—most notably with Brodinski on Bromance’s first release, “Let The Beat Control Your Body,” where Louisahhh!!! purrs commands like “Raw power, ecstasy. Liberate, don’t hesitate. And let the beat control your body.”
About her decision to forge onwards down the singer/vocalist path, despite her qualms, she simply said, “In order to improve, one has to be uncomfortable. I’m trying to embrace that.”
These themes of artistic struggle, of emotional disquiet, of walking a fine line between darkness and light are also scattered throughout “Rough & Tender,” the second song off her latest Traces EP. Even the title itself, in its pairing of opposites, suggests some kind of conflict. It opens with Louisahhh!!! intoning in her signature stone-cold way, “Be careful with that precious heart. Kid, it’s really all you got. Just a little, just enough. Rough and tender. Tender tough.”
“That line in particular was from a book by my ex,” she said. “It was a very high energy moment—like, how far are you going to go? ‘Just a little, just enough.’” Again, she returned to her belief in pain as a mechanism for evolution. “I hated him for a while, because his writing is so good.* This was a moment of standing on the edge and having to push through it for spiritual progress.”
She pauses, then formulates a personal motto.
“I can be a pussy about it. Or I can be a warrior.”
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