An Interview with France’s Kitsuné

By gaarome darmendrail

A French journalist recently wrote that Kitsune [a] [l] Maison compilations are like trendy music magazines, telling you twice a year which new bands and hip producers you should be listening to.

Based in Paris, Kitsuné is run by Gildas Loaec, who previously worked on Daft Club’s Daft Punk, and Masaya Kuroki, a former architect.

Known for their taste-making compilations, the Franco-Japanese duo now hopes Kitsuné can become a real label involved with long-term artist development.

But Kitsuné isn’t just about music.

It’s also dedicated to fashion, and to Gildas and Masaya, fashion is no less important.

What is Kitsuné?

Gildas: Kitsuné is both a record label and a clothing brand.

It’s two passions fused into one; we both enjoy music and fashion, so we’ve created a structure that could give us happiness.

I’ve been in the music business for a long time, so it was easiest to develop the record label first.

But when we started to work on our first compilation ‘Kitsuné Love’, in 2002, we already found partnerships for our clothing brand.

So there’s no priority between music and fashion?

Gildas: No. Sometimes you can have a synergy between these two activities, but they also can live separately.

Our clothes have their own identity.

We’re aiming for classics that are very “now”.

We offer a selection of blue jeans made in Japan, cashmere sweaters from Scotland, cotton Polos made in France and Italian shirts [t-shirt image right]. It’s not record label merchandising — it’s a self-sustaining clothesline.

It’s the same concerning the label; It’s not an excuse to sell more clothes.

Some people may think that it is, but they would be wrong.

Our goal is to win the right to exist in both arenas: music and fashion.

How would you describe the music on your label?

Gildas: We like club culture and music that makes you dance and emotional.

We don’t care how the music is made, or if there are guitars or computers making it — it’s only the result that matters.

I agree with our friends from Soulwax; they don’t care if the track they play is a big hit that everybody knows, because they don’t have that kind of snobbism that would push them not to play a track because it could be considered a commercial one.

That’s how we feel.

We like to be surprised.

We like to hear new mixes.

We’re just open-minded.

We hope to be here for a long time, and there’s too much at risk to focus on just one style of music.

If your focus is limited and your style is no longer hip, your label is finished.

We want Kitsuné to be a looking forward label [Maison compilation 3, above right].

Nevertheless, the last Kitsuné compilations tend towards pop music.

Masaya: That was our wish. We don’t want to be limited. We want to be pop.

Gildas: The term pop music means we want to touch a larger audience.

It also means we want to bring more melody into club music.

Kitsuné seems like a compilation label. Is that your intention?

Gildas: To run a label with a plan of long-term artist development takes a lot of time and money.

I admire labels that do it, but we wanted to start slowly.

When you’re a small label, it’s dangerous to release albums too soon.

Now, we’ve grown up: we licensed the Digitalism album to EMI, which means that we work on their career everyday [Digitalism, right].

We’re collaborating with an English rock band called Cazals, who gave us the opportunity to record their album in Paris and to release it worldwide.

We’ve also signed a new English duo named Autokratz [a], who are working on their first album.

Autokratz remind me of Underworld and The Chemical Brothers.

Gradually, we’re becoming a record label as people think it should be, but we are sometimes seen as a transitional label — a launching ramp for artists.

As an English producer, a good way to be discovered in France, Scandinavia or Japan is to be on one of our compilations, as they are distributed all around the world.

There are always new names for your compilations. Does that take a lot of research?

Gildas: It is a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of passion.

To listen to music everyday, to be on contact with musicians, that’s what I like.

But now, labels and managers directly ask us to be on our compilations.

Kitsuné compilations are like a select shop where the select shop owner only sells what he or she appreciates, and customers come back because they know that the owner has good taste.

People buy our compilations because they know that they will discover good music.

Masaya: We work 24 hours a day.

Now that your compilations are established, do you feel pressure when you release them?

Gildas: No pressure at all, because the next compilation will always be better than the one before.