One evening in 1997, when Chloé Caillet was just four years old, her father took her to the rooftop of the New York apartment block that they lived in. Deep in the urban jungle and surrounded by sky-high buildings, he started playing one of his favourite songs to his young daughter, in a moment of musical bonding and connection between the two.
“He would always play a lot of rock, that was our thing,” Caillet recalls, calling in from her Ibiza studio, at the dawn of the White Isle’s 2023 party season. “He played ‘School’ by Supertramp, the song that was on the ‘Crime of the Century’ album. He took me in his arms and blasted the song – and we just danced together.”
That moment of familial joy remains Caillet’s first fully formed memory of music, an early stepping stone in her path to where she is today. Having learnt how to play a multitude of instruments as a child and worked in the music industry for most of her adult life, the past few years have seen her establish herself as one of house music’s most in-demand and talented selectors. Now a resident of Ibiza’s mighty Circoloco Monday afterparty at DC10, her sets – which draw in sounds from as far and wide as groove-laden tech-house, soulful disco, Latin rhythms and Afrobeat – have become must-see viewing and solidly established her as a breakout star.
She’s also been producing her own music for the outfit too, with her debut full EP ‘INTRO’ recently released via CircoLoco Records – a diverse five-tracker (plus extended version of two tracks) that just scratches the surface of her range. It spans old skool, sleazy, post Paradise Garage NYC informed lead single ‘NYWTF (feat. Mikhail Beltran)’, to the big room dreaminess of ‘In The Middle (feat. Falle Nioke & Wekaforé)’, with injections of Afrobeat influences (‘Quieres (Part 1)’) and breakbeats (‘Know Now feat. Poté’).
In honour of the milestone release, and to give fans a taste of what to expect as she prepares for a hectic summer festival season schedule, Caillet has dropped over a gorgeous hour-long In Session mix. Beginning with sunny Afrobeat with roots in the Ivory Coast, the mix gradually descends into a heady, party mix that crosses genre and mood boundaries with a free-flowing ease.
We caught up with the Parisian-New Yorker to chat about taking influences from the sounds of the various cities and scenes she’s experienced, staying healthy while on the road, and the unpredictability of road testing unheard productions to crowds for the first time. Listen to the mix and read the Q&A below.
How did you start getting into dance music? Did you ever have a dancefloor epiphany moment?
100%. I was living in Paris at the time when the Ed Banger scene started to rise up in the city at Social Club. There was one moment I’ll never forget actually – I went to Concrete with my crew, we [would go] every week and I remember listening to all this crazy Romanian minimal and progressive house. I was like: “What is this sound?” It was super cool. Then I moved to Bristol where I got into dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass – every weekend I would go out to Lakota or Motion and that was another epiphany. But with the Ed Banger scene, the Romanian minimal stuff and the Bristol dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass, that’s all stuff I love.
How do you think it feeds into the music that you play and make?
Coming from a background of rock ‘n’ roll, then getting into the more psychedelic rock and blues and all these different genres within the rock space and then getting into electronic rhythms, it’s all influenced me so much. The UK has a really specific sound, I also love breakbeat and UKG – so all these things I feel like today influence the way that I play, the music I make, the music I look for, the artist I love to go see. It’s all a part of my heritage.
And how did you get into DJing? You had been in and around the music industry for a while right?
Yeah, so I was actually in the music business in New York working on the back end first. I was at a label, then I was on the management side, then I did musical direction for a hotel, then I had my own creative agency doing creative direction for different artists. And I was always organising parties in New York, booking DJs at clubs, doing playlists for people – I had always collected records, and deep down kind of wanted to be an artist but I didn’t think it was possible.
Then one day my friend was just like: “Chloé, you should just DJ. You know a lot of people in the nightlife business, you’ll be able to get yourself booked – just pick up a couple pay cheques a week.” I ended up getting a residency at a lounge in New York at the PUBLIC Hotel and just moved from opening slots at these more corporate places to actually getting club gigs and more underground bookings in Brooklyn. That then moved to Europe and translated to more things, and from there really I was just like: “I love this so much, I cant believe that literally this is my job to play music I love to people – it’s mad.”
You’ve had quite the 12 months as an artist, with your profile blowing up and playing at so many of electronic music’s most prized venues and festivals (even New York’s Madison Square Gardens) – how has it been for you?
I mean, it’s been unreal. I’m super grateful for all of the support and everyone who just consistently shows up to my sets, listens to my music. It’s been a really incredible response, because I was apprehensive about releasing music. Music is very personal to me, it’s something I love to do and when you start sharing it with the world, it’s like “whoa”. But it’s been good, it’s motivated me to do more. I feel like I’m travelling more, meeting amazing people, connecting with more artists – it’s just been an amazing effect. I just spent quite a bit of time in South America, in Brazil and that just opened another world.
I feel like right now, I’m just absorbing a lot of information, and just trying to stay healthy and balanced and keep up the music making, because I feel like when you start to tour a lot, you start to lack a bit of the creative output, so I’m just making sure that’s still being implemented.
What sort of ways do you try and keep yourself balanced in that way?
I mean lots of ways, I have a pretty strict tour policy of exercise and eating well, I have pretty consistent meditation work. Trying not to stay out late after gigs, trying not to drink – just taking it as a proper job, being like: “You know what? I have that 9:AM flight and it’s already 4:AM, and even if I can get two hours sleep it’s better than not sleeping.” I’ve also got an amazing team behind me who have really been conscious of making sure that the routings are really good, that there’s enough time between shows to recover.
You’ve been labelled as a “rising star” quite a lot in the last couple of years or so. How does that make you feel when you hear that?
It’s weird, haha. It’s like: “What, me? Crazy.” I had my mum call me being like “Chloé, you’re in a French magazine!” The one that she buys and reads in print. Some of it is quite surreal, like I think some of it hasn’t sunk in yet – because I just feel like I’ve been focused on making music, playing good shows and travelling that a lot of things that I read kind of goes over my head. But again I’m just so grateful, I now feel like there’s pressure – I need to keep delivering great music and music that I love.
Pressure in a good way?
Yeah, I like pressure. It keeps me engaged, it keeps me focused, it makes me feel like I’ve got goals to reach. Sometimes in the past I could sit on a record for a year and a half and not get it done. I mean it has to be healthy pressure, but as I said I’ve got an amazing team and a great group of friends and support network that just keeps all of the fun in the job too.
Who’s Chloé Caillet’s artist to watch in 2023?
Can you tell me a bit about your new EP ‘INTRO’, how did it come about and what are the ideas behind it?
So I wouldn’t actually say I conceived it, I just made a bunch of music during the pandemic, and when I listened back it was super cohesive and was like: “Wow, this is an EP.” It really came about over a year-and-a-half where I was exploring a lot of my musical heritage from the more percussive side of music. I’m a huge fan of Afrobeat and ‘70s Afro-funk, and Latin sounds because I was living in between Spain and the UK and I was very inspired by all of these worlds, then mixing in my New York and French upbringing. My idea was just not to think too much about making dance music but to just make music that I loved that could be played at a club, but also could be listened to on a walk or in a car driving to work.
I also worked with amazing vocalists that I have always followed and it was just a very organic process. I had no pressure during the pandemic – you know we all had a lot of time to think and to sit and make music. It’s funny because now that I hear the songs, I think: “Well, you really had time because every song has just been really carefully put together.”
I can hear the New York influences – ‘NYWTF’ reminded me a bit of Danny Tenaglia.
‘NYWTF’ was the last song to be made, and actually at that point the world was opening up again and I had started playing a bit. I actually made it in LA – it was the very end of the pandemic and I had maybe played my first show in a club by then, so the inspiration of that song was actually just coming back into the world and talking about my experiences in New York. I thought a lot about where I lived and [the impact] all of these different influences had on me.
Did making the record during the pandemic affect how you approached it and how it came out?
The pandemic was difficult – it was definitely a lot of worry and a lot of fear about what the hell was I doing, when the world was going to open. But at the same time I really got a sense of freedom because I wasn’t travelling. I got into a structure and a routine so I felt like all I was missing was dancing. So like ‘Quieres’ is very bouncy and fun – when I made that I was looking for some kind of energy because everything was so flat.
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What does Circoloco the party, and releasing on the label mean to you personally?
I mean, it’s an amazing, amazing party that’s been going on for so long. I feel like all of my favourite artists in the world have played there. When they get behind you they believe in you and put you on. In Ibiza, it’s just one of the best parties here in my opinion – you’re always going to bump into a friend, discover someone you don’t know, see your favourite DJ and at the same time have a good time. It’s a real party and there’s a sense of family that surrounds it.
Has getting into production changed the ways that you approach DJing or listening to music at all?
Totally. I’d say actually what’s interesting is I’m a musician before anything – I grew up playing the piano and guitar and playing in bands. So I actually learnt a bit of production during my A-levels and at university. Then I went into the business side and [after] when I was DJing I was like: “Wait a minute, I could bring all of that back.” I’ve always DJ’d quite melodically – I play a lot in key, I love using different textures to add them and layer them onto other tracks. I’ve always had that kind of musician brain as a DJ and just getting all the production skills down and getting comfortable with Ableton and producing was kind of putting it all together. Now being able to have my own studio and be able to put my ideas down, make records and then play my records out – it’s amazing.
How does it feel when you play one of your records that you’ve been working on for ages, maybe for the first time to a crowd?
It’s quite nerve-wracking, because it doesn’t always work. Sometimes in your head you’ve been working on this track for months and you’re like “yeah, it’s great – I’m going to test it out”, and then the energy goes down – Then you need to go back and rethink, or just scratch that record because it’s not going to work. Sometimes you get a record that you didn’t think would do so well and then you play out and everyone responds really well and then it’s “okay great – that’s the one”. It’s definitely intense.
What’s next for Chloé Caillet?
I’ve got some more releases lined up over the next few months – the details are a secret right now – and I’m working on another full EP that will hopefully be releasing in the fall that’s going to be more club-focused and then working towards writing an album in 2024.
[Touring-wise] I’m really excited for Sónar. I’m putting together something very special for that show. I’m looking forward to Glastonbury, then playing Circoloco next week, which is my first gig of the [Ibiza] season. Also Flow Festival in Helsinki and I’m playing in Berlin at Elsa – I’m super excited about that one because I haven’t played in Berlin yet.
And finally, tell us about your In Session mix
So my mix for Mixmag is really a journey through different sounds that I love that inspire me. I’ve been buying a lot of records recently, and really diving into lots of different sonorities. So there’s a lot of vinyls, my friends’ edits, but it takes you from one space and brings you somewhere. It’s got a club feeling but also a mix that can be listened to and enjoyed. I think it shows my range of inspiration – there’s my friend’s Afro edit that’s amazing, there’s a more Latin-type ‘90s record, there’s some acid, some house, some funk and then ends on a euphoric piano vibe.
Chloé Caillet's 'INTRO' EP is out now, get it here
Isaac Muk is a freelance writer, follow him on Twitter
Kassiry - N'Ne Menika (Josh Ludlow edit)
Tonny Montana - Amore Me Conbenso
Luigi Sambuy, Emanuele Barilli - This One’s For You
Boo Williams - The End Time
TLGFDN - Sequences
The Chemist - Ruff Kutz (Klubbheads remix #2)
Noiro - Cobra
Tom Frankel - Thunderbird
Chloé Caillet - In The Middle feat. Falle Nioke & Wekaforé
Madrid Groove - Arsa
Kevin Freeman - The Beat
Unknown Artist - It’s Not A Genre It’s A Feeling (A1)