Chloé Thévenin’s journey flutters between shadow and light, night and day. But the night definitely belongs to Chloé.
Hers is the story of a pioneer, and in many rights: when she started DJing at the very end of the 90s, too few women were standing behind the turntabales. Chloé was among the first to proclaim loud and clear that DJing wasn’t solely a men’s trade.
And it’s no coincidence that the launching pad for this journey was a very special club, Le Pulp, which made moving bodies coming together an act of defiance and activism – particularly around issues related to minorities, whatever they may be.
From Paris (at the Pulp, but also at the Rex where she has her residence), through some of the world’s most noted clubs, Chloé has worked to defy expectations and continually surprise. Each of her sets tells a story that has as much to do ecstatic pleasure as with the sweet melancholy of that early morning walk home from a rave.
Soon came her first two albums: 2007’s The Waiting Room, and 2010’s One in Other (both released by the late Kill The DJ label). These are not exactly club-ready records, but rather electronic self-portraits that Chloé presented as “side-steps”. This would soon become a habit of hers: everything with Chloé is about displacement, unexpected angles from which to look at the dancefloor, then the audience, then society and ultimately our lives, to form a newer, more open vista.
In 2017, Chloé started her own label, Lumière Noire – the name itself heralds a contradictory spirit that refuses to choose between techno, dark electronica, earnest low-fi folk. This is music that evokes images just as well as it accompanies them.
In four years and about thirty releases (from the likes of Sutja Gutierrez, Il est vilaine, Destiino, Inigo Vontier, and Théo Muller) as well as volumes one and two of From Above (the compilations that stacked Jonathan Fitoussi and Marc Melià’s synthetic landscapes next to Rebeka Warrior and Benedikt Frey’s nocturnal, hypersexy universes,) the label continued its recon work through the electronic music scene, advancing with complete freedom.
That same freedom is at the center of Chloé’s third album, 2017’s Endless Revisions (a title that surely speaks volumes about this perfectionist who is known to go over her work a thousand times, refining its details), on which she collaborated with New Yorker Rhys Chatham, Ben Shemie of the band Suuns, and even the legendary French chanson luminary Alain Chamfort.
In 2019, Chloé released Endless Revisions Live, not for the mere fetishism of chronicling a tour that, from its inaugural date at the Gaîté Lyrique in January 2018, went on to visit a large number of venues and festivals, but to convey how concerts, by the challenge they always represent for an electronic musician, gradually transformed each piece, giving them more flesh and intensity. So much so that Chloé herself defines live music today as a way of bringing the club into the studio, of bridging the gap between the two places where her music continues to flourish. The DJ and the musician finally found themselves facing the public, with the never impossible mission of bringing them into her universe.
After ten years of challenging labels and categories, Chloé felt increasingly free to work on sound textures, ambiances, narrative pieces, and other embryonic sonic storytelling devices ready to nestle themselves in a film soundtrack, leading Chloé to work with Kabyle musicians to score Lidia Leber Terki’s 2017 Paris La Blanche. This was no debut, however: as early as December 2012, the Cinémathèque française commissioned her to create a live soundtrack to accompany the restoration of one of Alfred Hitchcock’s first English silent films, 1929’s Blackmail. And soon, her score for Laurent Cantet’s (who won the 2008 Palme d’or at Cannes for his Entre les murs) eighth film Arthur Rambo will grace the screens.
And the spectrum never ceases to expand: for the 2021 edition of the Montpellier danse festival, Chloé proposed a creation that accompanied Maud Le Pladec’s latest choreography, Counting Stars with You (musique femmes). This was to be their second collaboration, after the 2020 Static Shot.
She is also at the center of an immersive, hypnotic experience: the Slo Mo project, with visuals by Dune Lunel Studio, an ambient live performance that was performed at the TAP in Poitiers, at the Lieu Unique in Nantes during the Assis/Debout/Couché festival (in a recumbent version), during the Grand Paris event in St Denis in collaboration with Le 104, at the Sónar festival in Barcelona, and at the Southbank Center in London.
These experiences have also informed Chloé’s work with marimba player Vassilena Serafimova. An album from the duo, Sequenza, will be released in October on Lumière Noire, following a number of concerts performed in French public theaters and at alternative music festivals –places that may not be natural habitats for Chloé’s music, but embody her spirit of openness and her will to make her work ever more accessible, building bridges with cultures beyond the clubs.
Finally, Chloé has been commissioned by French public radio network France Culture to produce its new on-air identification, starting in September 2021 – sonic universes that may last only a few seconds, but tell stories that make the listener want to pay attention.