Queen of ClubsClubbing is a sort of modern tribal ritual and the DJ is the shaman.
Three “h”s and three exclamation marks. The name says it loudly, but it fits: Louisahhh!!! is always welcomed on stage with a good amount of noise from the crowd. The 28-year-old Paris-based New Yorker, born Louisa Pillot, is an electronic musician and highly sought-after DJ. Her 2011 debut track, “Palmaditas de Muerte,” fuses flamenco guitars with cutting synthesizers and was a worldwide club hit. Through it, she came to the attention of Kanye West’s producer, Gesaffelstein, and has been promoted by him ever since. Today she performs in the best clubs in the world and produces records that sound like unicorns laughing.
THE RED BULLETIN: What’s the correct pronunciation of your name?
LOUISAHHH!!!: Just like you’d normally pronounce it: Louisa.
So why the three “h”s and the exclamation marks?
I was 18 and pretty wasted when I came up with the name. It seemed like a good decision at the time. Now I’m not too sure about that anymore. But it’s probably too late to rebrand.
One of the tracks on your new EP, Traces, is called “Night Clubbing.” What’s the best part of a night out on the town?
The physical act of participating in a communal music experience is something magical. I love it when I’m on the dance floor and the kick drum pounds my ego out of me as I get caught up in the crowd. Dancing is also like meditating—it’s an introspective process. There are many people who would say the opposite of that. I see clubbing as a sort of modern tribal ritual. It is essentially a dressed-up mating ritual for the human race. We go into a cave and listen to big sounds, and perhaps go home with somebody we shared a spiritual experience with.
So what role does the DJ play?
The DJ is the shaman. To be in this role is a great honor.
Did you always want to be a techno shaman?
My options are very limited in terms of what jobs I can do because I’m not that good at working for other people.
But a DJ is beholden to the audience.
Of course. DJs are part of a service industry, at the end of the day. If the crowd is not feeling what you are doing, then you better do something different. But it’s a fine line between artist and entertainer, and the question is always how can I serve the music and how can I serve the crowd?
Can you do both?
I think so. I see myself as a go-between. It is a delight to let the music flow through you. I try to create a connection between people and my music.
Sounds like you’ve found your vocation.
Yes, I think so. My original career path until I was 17 was to train horses. Then I started to find myself in nightlife and quickly took a shine to its darker sides. I got sober and came into recovery when I was 20. So I’ve never had a legal drink in the States, but I still wanted to be a DJ. Everyone around me said, “You are newly sober and a recovering cocaine addict. Can you please do anything but club music?” But I wanted to go through with it and I wanted to do it sober. Yes, so I work in the lion’s den. The former slutty cokehead playing music for other slutty cokeheads. But I’ve got to the stage that my experiences mean I pass that message on to somebody who might be struggling. That’s why I’m here. It’s not for money, success, and glamour. That would be a small life.
Why, on Traces, are you singing more than on your previous records?
Growing up, all my heroes were frontwomen of bands. So that has been a secret desire, but I was also highly judgmental of women in the dancemusic scene, because I thought it was lame. They were mostly presented as disposable accessories for some star producer. It’s why I learned to program tracks and operate the equipment myself. Now I do both, and I love it.
You once described your music as sounding like unicorn laughter. What does an amused unicorn actually sound like?
I have no idea. But I’d like to think that my spiritual animal, my shaman creature, would be a unicorn. It’s a horse, but it is magical.
And why is it laughing?
I really like the physics of music. In a club, when you get pummelled with the sub-bass, it feels like the low rumble of a laugh, like the space is filling you with laughter. It is kind of silly, but I like that, I want that, I crave that. That is the spot I want to be in.