Miss Kittin w/Colby B., Misha
Sat July 31, Chop Suey, 9 pm, $10 adv.

Everything you need to know about the electroclash phenomenon can be summed up by Miss Kittin's first single with producer the Hacker, entitled "Frank Sinatra." Released in 1998, a full three years before Larry Tee trademarked the genre name, the 12-inch melded thrusting techno beats and heavy synth lines with Kittin's cold, cynical vocals. "To be famous is so nice," she deadpanned in French-tinged English like a Eurotrash robot. "Suck my dick. Lick my ass."

Finally, electronic music had its first female rock-star icon. Her contribution was to usher in an era where blasé was the only way to be. Kittin's arctic attitude and punk-rock-meets-techno look were summarily replicated around the world by cocaine-addled clubbers who were so over it they were into it. Suddenly, drinking champagne and having sex in limousines was just another boring night out. Simultaneously, while boasting '80s musical influence, "Frank Sinatra" broadcasted the message that nostalgia for the past was passé.

Not surprisingly, Miss Kittin (real name: Caroline Herve) is a reluctant poster girl for irony-clad electroclash. So much so that she spends the entirety of her solo debut, I Com, trying to reconcile herself with the mechanical party-girl image she initially constructed. Sonically, the album bounces between different types of techno, from pounding punk glitch to sweet downtempo chansons to classic styles born in Detroit and Chicago. Lyrically, the record finds Kittin consumed with the ups and downs of living a famous DJ's lifestyle. "I have to smile/I have to show/I have to be nice all the time," she grouses. Elsewhere, there's a paean to her manager ("Meet Sue Be She"), a track presumably about failed love affairs ("Kiss Factory"), and an ambivalent anthem that finds Miss Kittin suffering from her own lifestyle ("Allergic").

Kittin's not afraid to wear her heart on her liner notes, but when questioned if the average listener can relate to her complaining about the perils of fame, she retorts, "I think you're wrong when you say people can't relate to it. Everybody has his own 'Professional Distortion,' dealing with being nice even if you don't feel like it; getting up in the morning, doing your job. Everybody suffers from some 'aller- gies,' when you're sick because your body needs to rest; saying they are alright when they feel like shit.

"But that's not the aim of my music," Kittin continues. "I just share an imaginary world or a distorted reality. That's what interests me. When it touches people, it becomes pop music."

With a musical dialect that assumes the listener's knowledge of techno history--thanks to coproduction from Chicks on Speed collaborators Tobi Neumann and Thies Mynther--I Com certainly isn't a pop record. But you'll still get a taste of Miss Kittin's larger-than-life persona at her show. That's because she won't be singing--she'll be DJing.

By all accounts, Kittin expresses herself best through other people's music, whether that means collaborating on tracks or playing vinyl. She says making I Com was difficult because she was in control of every aspect. "I had to organize everything--the whole team, the studio, and give directions," she explains. "We all thought it was a totally new adventure. [The hardest part] was trying to keep the team together and make them forget about every pressure but the one to have fun."

Miss Kittin values fun above all, which probably explains why she's ditching the pressure of playing live for this tour, and choosing instead to focus on the dance floor. What you'll likely hear is a mix of her influences, inspired by her start as a young raver in Grenoble, France, and her current place in the elaborate hierarchy of Berlin's techno scene. If her March 2003 mix CD, Radio Caroline Volume One (Emperor Norton), is any indication, she'll come with a fresh mix of experimental techno (Autechre, Panasonic), fresh electro (Alexander Robotnick), and maybe even some of the hot microhouse that's currently the toast of Germany. If her festival antics are any indication, she may even get pleasantly drunk and disorderly, living up to the rock-star image that's been cultivated around her. As for influences for both her solo and DJ work, though, she's not telling. "I may appear pretentious," she says matter-of-factly. "But I don't think I am the kind of person who is influenced."

editor@thestranger.com

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