Call Her Chris.

Call Her Chris.

Christine and the Queens, the fiery French crooner, amplifies her gender-fluid identity on her new album.

Christine and the Queens, the fiery French crooner, amplifies her gender-fluid identity on her new album.

Photography: Heather Hazzan

Styling: Yuiko Ikebata

Text: Jake Viswanath

This interview appears in the pages on V115, our Fall 2018 issue. Head to shop.vmagazine.com to order your copy today!

Call her Chris. French pop star Christine and the Queens, whose birth name is Héloïse Letissier, is going by the more stereotypically masculine moniker for her sophomore album of the same name. Her hair is now a pixie cut, and her fashion is decidedly gender-neutral, exposing her toned muscles. But it’s not an act: creating characters to express her truest self has always been part of Chris’s MO. “I first created the character of Christine and the Queens while touring the first album to try emancipating myself. I became, in a way, what I wanted to become: a more confident, powerful woman, and a queer one,” she says.

Chris, both album and character, feels like a major expansion of what Christine and the Queens is known for. The music, infusing minimalist, sentimental pop with ‘80s funk and ‘90s grooves, feels bolder in its self-assuredness and vulnerability. Chris herself reflects these qualities physically. While touring her first record, her body and voice both grew in strength. In her words, she transformed into “this kind of phallic, powerful woman” on the road, leading to a more personal exploration of how women are portrayed.

“I used to feel like a threat before because I was a girl; and then, by becoming a phallic, powerful woman, I was another kind of threat in a heteronormative world,” she says. That spurred her to release “an album about female desire and being a strong, powerful, and lusting woman. I was like, if they can’t handle me, they’re going to have more of me. Chris, as a character, was born out of this defiance.”

It’s an amplification of her delicate debut, which approached gender roles and male dominance with a more traditional form of protest.“The first record was very much about trying to remove myself from the male gaze by becoming a pure silhouette and neutral information. I put on lots of suits and tried to cancel the information of gender as much as I could,” she recalls. “But for the second one, I thought, You can’t actually escape it nowadays, can you? Even if you have a suit on you, people are still asking if you’re fuck-able or not. So if I can’t escape it, I should try to subvert it more with my body.” The macho aesthetic is new, but Chris is the same French girl you fell in love with, refreshed and ready to change your gender perceptions: “There’s some joy and confidence about the character; it’s precisely because I’m stronger now that I embrace the confusion a bit more. It was very much about addressing the complexity of the female character in pop music. I was like, How can I be the hero of the novel, but in a pop record?” The album pulls this off with ease, adding new dimensionality to the pure, poetic pop that Chris has always been known for.

Credits: MAKEUP ANGELA DAVIS DEACON (DEFACTO INC.) USING PAULA'S CHOICE, HAIR CLAY NIELSEN, PHOTO ASSISTANT NICK SAVIOLI

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