Christine and the Queens: ‘I’ve just discovered sex, I can’t stop yet!’

Damon Albarn

Groupe / Damon Albarn 295 Views comments

Héloïse Letissier’s 2016 debut made her a global star. She’s spent the years since evolving her alter-ego Chris, idolising Madonna, making ‘horny’ pop, and being misunderstood in France

Midway through an hour-long conversation touching on Rihanna, the mainstreaming of queer identity and Madonna, Chris, AKA the artist formerly known as Christine and the Queens (and born Héloïse Letissier) stops suddenly. “What does ‘wanky’ mean, precisely?” she queries, a raised eyebrow brushing her newly cropped fringe. After asking for advice on how best to describe her multiple “characters”, as she calls them, I had dismissed my suggestions as too “wanky”, too earnest. And so here we are: one of the most rule-breaking pop stars of the last five years is rolling “wanky” around her mouth like a chewy sweet. “I’ve learned a new word!” she says, beaming.

Chris is in London on a whistle-stop visit ahead of the release of her self-produced, Michael and Janet Jackson-inspired second album, also called Chris. It is the funkier follow-up to 2016’s Chaleur Humaine, an album of bilingual chamber pop that originally entered the UK chart at No 132, but finished the year – thanks in part to a joyous, Brexit vote-cleansing Glastonbury performance – as the biggest-selling debut. She apologises for being glued to her phone; there is a video edit that needs approving and she has to be the one to do it. “It’s good but it’s constant,” she says of her hectic schedule. Today’s look – loose suit jacket, pinstriped red-and-white shirt – is very much the uniform of someone who means business.

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