“That’s interesting, right? That’s something I could talk to a shrink about…”
Surrounded by stacked chairs on the first floor of Le Pavillon du Lac – in Paris’ Parc des Buttes-Chaumont – one of France’s most critically-acclaimed artists is laughing as she recalls how she always “hated” her voice growing up. If it’s a surprisingly candid start to an interview, it’s an even more implausible beginning to the career of the singer-songwriter behind multi-platinum-selling bilingual pop project Christine and the Queens.
Born and raised in Nantes, the musical tastes of Héloïse Letissier and her older brother were shaped by their parents. Mixing classical and jazz music with pop and rock, their eclectic record collection included French artists Christophe and Alain Bashung, plus David Bowie and Klaus Nomi. “It was really sometimes daring, the choices they made,” Letissier remembers fondly. “They opened me up to really different artists, and to strong personalities as well. I still don’t know why my parents listened to Klaus Nomi for the first time, but I’m glad they made me discover this really out-of-this-world, extraterrestrial character.”
Letissier was tutored in piano and solfège but she describes her early relationship with music as “ambivalent” at best. “I was surrounding myself with music, but I was sure that I couldn’t make any. Funny, right?” she exclaims, grinning. “I always considered myself a lousy musician before I started to sing. I was studying theatre and music, and the teachers wanted me to have singing lessons – like every other student – and I was just running away from it because I was feeling like my voice was a bit bland and boring.”