Meet the coolest shapeshifter whose beats smash so hard you’ll need to sit down.
Jump into our new series featuring fresh faces who are on the way to define the sounds and aesthetics of the, not so distant, future. The cultural revolution is happening now. We don’t want you to miss any of it. Let’s push boundaries together.
On a cover photo of her new EP One, Coucou Chloe poses in a wedding dress with a long-ass veil. In one hand, she’s holding a bouquet, in the other, her phone. Who cares about some vows, altars and rings anyway? We found a perfect match and there’s no chance of letting her go now. She’s the medicine for our gutter-drained moods when going through winter’s last months and getting through life’s day-to-day trials and tribulations.
Erika Jane knew that she’s got too much to give to say yes to one genre, one style or one character, so that’s when Coucou Chloe emerged from within, with her own unique sound. Labelled as deconstructed club music, it’s going straight to your head: smashing your senses so you’d cry or laugh or dance your booty away. Anyway, the end product of it is always the same – and empowering and light-headed catharsis. Even Lady Gaga couldn’t resist the call of Coucou so she commissioned her to remix ‘Stupid Love’ for Dawn of Chromatica. High energy hits hard here.
At live shows, you can expect chaotic sets with explosive potential, as exemplified at Couocou Chloe’s recent performance at Sonar Festival. Coucou plays a few fronts: finally releasing her own material, rolling the ball NUXXE (a label she co-founded with Sega Bodega and Shygirl) and strolling down the fashion pages to collaborating with the likes of Prada or Gucci. We catch up with her in a central London hotel where we talked about everything from expressing accumulated emotions, new materials and Daniel Johnston. Coucou Chloe has let us into her world as she teaches us how to form an identity as a solo artist and talks us through the process of creating. As she’s one of the coolest cats in the contemporary music game so we felt obligated to give you a sneak peek as she’s about to take off for a tour…
Since you’re performing under a stage name, who is COUCOU CHLOE? Do you see her as a separate character from Erika?
It’s funny because I’ve asked myself this question quite recently. For me it was obvious that it was me but then I just realized that obviously what I’m writing in my music or whatever, it’s not sometimes a thing I’m going to say out loud. I just feel like it allows me to express things because when I make music, I express myself in a different language than just words because I also produce everything. It’s expressing those things with energies that are a thing that I don’t really get to express as well in normal life settings. It’s just an extended version but it’s definitely me.
It’s kind of putting some parts of yourself forward.
Because even when I say extended, it doesn’t feel right. Because it feels too far away from me. I’m just gonna say it’s me really, just differently.
Also, you’ve just released a new EP One, can you tell me what’s the concept behind it?
My creative process is pretty much, I still try to figure it out but, about, living and experiences. Accumulating them until you feel like, you know, those experiences are gonna trigger things in you. I like to isolate myself and press pause on life for a second and just express it all out. In this case, it was a time when I was particularly really isolated. Everything has been felt intensely and with no output. It’s about a party but truly, it’s not really party-party. It’s more about getting fucked. It was about that. It’s like ‘Yeah, I’m bored. I really want to get fucked but I can’t’. This EP really comes from a place where I felt stuck in my head with my demons, so now, basically, I’m facing them. This is really pretty much what I’m doing in music. It’s a lot of expressions of things I felt strongly about. Each track is representative of a feeling. This is what I do in music, Ican never really predict what I’m going to make because I don’t go with the plan. I don’t really question myself when I make music in the way where, if I want to sing on that, if I want to use this, or if I want to make. For example, there is this last track in the EP that’s ‘Blink’, funny story I will tell you about that.
This track was not finished at first, but I decided to finish it like that. As an artist, you’re going to question yourself, how it’s going to be received and perceived by people. But I feel like when you start to do that too much, you betray yourself. That’s what, in my opinion, is really hard. Because it’s this thing where obviously I make music, and I’m really happy when people find a home in their feeling in what I’m expressing but first it has to talk about my experience really and what I want to spit out.
It’s so easy to get lost in that and look at the outer world way too much.
That’s the thing. Once again, it’s really something intimate to me. I’m not being political in what I’m saying, like straight away or anything. I’m expressing in my head first, I need to do that and I need to understand as ometimes I make music and I don’t understand what it’s about. A few months after I am like, ‘oh but that’s what that was about that’. There is this thing where it’s really therapeutic and putting it out to the world after it’s a bit… It’s a bit weird. It’s like giving away your diary pages, but whether people are going to be able to relate or not… It’s really interesting. It is is a really weird dynamic of writing something and putting it out thinking how this could make sense to others as well but I understand that as well. When I perform my music live, I also get to experience it live. Sometimes I’m just a bit confused because I used to play a lot of things like, do you want to make music for the live shows? Or do you actually just want to express what you want to express; which sometimes are really different things and sometimes I’m battling those things.
Those are really tricky subjects for any artist.
Yeah, I’m just questioning that. It’s also something that I can do because I also produce as well as the vocals. Whilst I do collaborate with other people sometimes, my process is really alone. Then sometimes I’m just like, fuck it: it doesn’t have to be that confusing. Express what you want to express. It’s hard to stop asking yourself questions when you know that some people are watching, some people have expectations towards what you’re doing. Sometimes I feel like I will know what people want to hear from me but then I don’t want to have a type of formula where I know that people are going to like that, if this isn’t what I want to express, and if I felt that this was something I did before because things always change. I would like to look back at what I did and still be able to understand what I expressed and everything rather than make some magic formula that I know people would like or something because that’s not what I’m trying to do here. I don’t see for extending the longevity, because if I betray my process, then I’m going to get stuck at one point as well.
“This EP really comes from a place where I felt stuck in my head with my demons, so now, basically, I'm facing them."
Do you feel like a lot of the pressure from people trying to put you in this one musical box, and just trying to describe define who you are?
People always want to put you in boxes anyways. I don’t mind if they want to put me in a box, I still know, for me, that I’m not in those boxes, I don’t feel like I fit any type of box. When people ask me, ‘what type of music do you make?’ All the tracks are different, I don’t know! If people want to put me in boxes because it helps them understand or not want to understand what I do, then fine for them. In the end, it’s not even my responsibility, but it’s been frustrating. Something I’ve also realized is every second in life everybody’s gonna do it, regardless of an image of your perception of you. Obviously, it can get at you anyhow. But that’s not really going to change who you are, you know what I mean? Obviously, sometimes you want to please people, you want to give them what they want and I felt pressure at one point, especially when I made ‘Naughty Dog’ because but this is a bit different, because I really couldn’t make music and I was like, fuck it. Just gonna make an EP about me not fun, me making shit. It’s also been a time of my life, where I’m being transparent with that. I could still feel some frustration, I know that some people would like to hear me doing more club stuff, like ‘Naughty Dog’ and everything. Then I’m like ‘there is a lot of things I want to explore’. I’m making a lot of club music right now. We’re swimming tracks. If you put that in a club I will live and cry somewhere. I felt pressured but once again, I just have to step away from that. Because that’s, that’s a bit what I was saying before. It happened to us as well, to like an artist to relate to something from an artist, but don’t like the whole thing. I believe that some people are going to an era of you. Some people are going to like the whole thing because they like the whole thing or catch during your journey as an artist and not like what you did before.
Talking about identity trips, your style is so interesting. What’s your relationship with fashion so far?
For quite a bit of time, I was really confused as well about myself and fashion because I’ve always liked dressing how I dress. Even before, since I was a child or whatever, I was using the boys’ clothes all the time when I was small. It’s part of the answer I’m gonna give you. For a long time, I was not really thinking about it. I wasn’t conscious that I was doing that. When I was wearing more girly clothes, I felt like it was a disguise. I never really questioned that in the way where it’s like ‘oh, it’s the clothes I like and that’s what I want to wear’. When I arrived here, I got to actually discover a piece of clothing and really realize the expression you give through clothing and everything. We all choose what we’re wearing. You look at your wardrobe and, even unconsciously, you’re still making statements. Even if it’s ‘today I’m gonna go out in pyjamas’. I’ve realised the importance of expression in that. By moving to London, and really like discovering all those designers and getting closer to fashion as well as discover really great clothes and like really more diversity to this expression.
Stay true to who are you and have fun with it. Both music and fashion enter that zone quite smoothly.
Exactly, they work together.
You’ve set up, now cult label NUXXE with Shygirl and Sega Bodega, can you tell me a bit of what the collaboration is looking like now and what’s the future of it?
I’m working right now. I’m working on a longer project. I’ve been working on quite a few collabs recently. Okay. Yeah. That will be able to out soon.
Is there anything you can say about them?
I like the surprise. I can say that a little remix album of the EP might be out as well, very soon. Working on it.
I’m actually really excited about that. It’s been really good. I never felt really comfortable at first with collaboration because I couldn’t learn the new process of making things but realised it’s so beautiful to see how everybody just approaches everybody’s creative process and question yourself. Beautiful moments.
You can grow from it.
There’s something special in creating with someone who doesn’t allow you to stay in your bubble. That’s really interesting because you’re always questioning why you’re making what you’re making anyway. It’s like going out sometimes when you go out and in a setup space, but, you’re here to create something with people. You never know what the output is going to be as well.
“It’s a long time that I've been making music but I feel like I’m just getting started."
Every artist has their muse. Who is a source of inspiration for you?
No, I can’t really say that. I never know what to say to this because I feel like there is some sort of… Fuck it. It’s fine. I always feel like there’s no artist I’m looking to forever. I look up to someone, but it’s always changing because something in them inspires me at the time or the elements in them inspire me, but I get bored very easily. But if there’s someone who’s stuck around that I could point at, it would definitely be Daniel Johnston.
He was amazing.
I actually cried when he died. What the fuck? I never cry when celebrities die… But I cried for Daniel Johnston.
The creative industry is notoriously built on odd part-time jobs, unpaid internships, all-nighters and tons of energy-boosters to get through this all turmoil of making or breaking it. Was it a struggle to get to this point in your career? It feels like you’re pretty established.
I don’t feel like that at all. It’s a long time that I’ve been making music but I feel like I’m just getting started.
Where do you want to see yourself in five years?
Fuck knows. I don’t know. I want the best for myself and the people around me. It’s something I question day-by-day and let’s see where this ends up. Obviously, I have expectations and they’re pretty high I want to work hard towards them but truly let’s see. I want to be in a comfortable position. I want to feel inspired, inspire people. I don’t know. Fuck knows. Maybe in five years, I will score movies.
You never know what’s gonna happen.
Oh my god if there’s something that this pandemic told me, obviously it’s gonna sounds bad but I don’t mean it like that: never take life for granted. If there’s something that never disappoints, that’s life. There’s always something for you. It’s dramatic but…
We needed to come to that conclusion.
So finally, Generation Tomorrow features new faces who are on the way to define, not so distant, creative future and shake society up a little. Who would be your choice?
I think Shygirl for sure.