Issue on issue we always seem to have a knack for seeking out the most interesting from the crowd and Louise Chen is no doubt one of them. Before meeting French DJ Piu Piu for issue four, the world of Louise and Girls Girls Girls only existed in Tumblr posts from the other side of the Channel… A collective of (hot) talented females (including Louise, Piu Piu and Betty Sensimon), their residency at the Social Club has become a serious and solid part of the French capital’s new gen of nightlife.
Founder of the all-femme out fit, Louise has arguably been pigeon-holed for her deep affection of Drake (“it’s basically tattooed on my internet persona. I’m pretty sure if you Google me a picture of Drake comes up…”). But away from the forever-Drake tracklists she’s at the centre of one of the most refreshing nights in international Clubland.
Phenomenally fresh-faced after a night of DJing at Young Turk’s new Sunday night-stop off, we sat down with Louise over a Monday morning coffee…
Not always following the step by step to life, Louise’s story goes from the moshpits of Luxemburg to the tragic downs and ups of Paris. There are probably a million questions to ask but we open with the most basic line possible: ‘Who is Louise Chen?’ “I’m a 27 year old half French half Taiwanese DJ/promoter/TV presenter/Journalist…ish.”
A deservedly slash-happy answer her CV reels off internships and connections with some of Europe’s biggest names in music making her an all-rounder in the field – something that no doubt contributed to the rise of GGG.
Moving to Paris to London and back again, it was meeting Mehdi when she landed a job at Ed Banger’s French Agency ‘The Talent Boutique’ where GGG all stemmed from. “I started at The Talent Boutique and was one of those who were like if they think they’re too cool for me then like fuck them I don’t care. – I’m just here to do my job, get paid, and finish my internship and graduate. I thought I’m going to move to New York, I don’t care. But then I then I met Mehdi and he seduced me into going out with him and then it was over – I thought now I really like him and I really like Paris.”
“It was a difficult year after the accident happened. It pushed me to new places…Even just before the accident we’d been talking about GGG. I’d met Betty and we’d had a drunken chat being like ‘we love our boyfriends but going to their nights can sometimes be a dick contest. All they want to do is be like hey I bet you don’t have this track’. We thought it’s great but you know what we just want to dance and be really slutty. I just want to hear Ciara or something. I just want to listen to Usher from time to time. There was nowhere to do this in Paris – Le Pompon wasn’t really doing it yet. Me and Betty thought maybe we should do our own night.”
“I remember I was telling Mehdi about it. He said ‘oh my god genius idea you should totally do it’. He was joking around saying if you girls all do it together you’re going to be superstars – we’ll be opening for you at Madison Square Gardens. I said we should call it Girls Girls Girls and he said that’s a really great name, you should keep it. That’s how it started.”
In the months following the accident, Louise found support from friends Brodinski and Henry Riton: “I obviously couldn’t work – I was too upset. For a while I was like I’m going to live on my student loan for another year and see where that takes me – Brodi and Henry said you need to do something. At least DJ at [Brodi’s nights] and then you should do Girls Girls Girls.”
Booking Piu Piu and Betty for the very first party, Louise had made grounding for GGG. A year later (“doing little by little I slowly got back on my ‘yeah sure I can do this feeling’”) they became a full-blown collective. As the party grew so did numbers as more signed up to the task across vocations (be it DJing, graphic design or photography). “We were like let’s just be a collective, have a night and be the best we can then voila somehow it worked out.”
Now GGG take on a noticeable slice of Paris nightlife, joining a list of other crews who’ve claimed the city from its past electro-hold. Recent years have seen a huge change for the French scene. Heads like Bromance, like Clek Clek Boom, like GGG have broken what was once seen as territory owned by Ed Banger.
“All of them [Ed Banger], I don’t like to call them the old crew – they were definitely pioneers, the French scene wouldn’t have existed if they’d not been around but around one and a half years ago you could feel within Paris that some people were trying to do new things, do things differently.”
While Young Guns and Clek Clek Boom still play on the same electro turf as Pedro and co, Parisian nights gained a different soundtrack to dance to as Hip-Hop’s popularity strengthened. Note Le Pompon – a definite breath of something new in the city’s sound with their 90s hip-hop policy (a mantra originally shared by GGG): “The guys from Le Pompon and Pigalle, they were almost trying to assert the fact, it was almost a statement to say they were doing something different to Ed Banger.”
“Sound Pelligrino were really important to this evolution too. Ed Banger hasn’t really been putting out a lot of stuff over the last few years. It was interesting to see SP take a bigger place… The fact they’re still around bridges this gap. They definitely make everything coherent. There’s no generation gap between the previous club scene and the new and upcoming.”
While the generation gap maybe a non-issue people like GGG are tackling Paris’ inevitable exclusivity embodying a new school of inclusion and openness on the dancefloor.
“It’s cool to live in a community but it also means the rest of France doesn’t get to access it. Paris by definition is a bit snobby and difficult to penetrate… I think that’s the real difference between the elder generation that fed off that feeling of being super exclusive, we have a lifestyle that you can’t have and now. Our generation suffered from this. We felt a bit too excluded so we have this new version where everyone’s a lot more collaborative…”
You can sense it everywhere within the GGG set-up – be it in the following crowd or the line-ups. What started out as a strict concept of girls-only (“We needed it to be really strong, we didn’t want to end up being another night with another promoter at the Social Club) – they’ve now earned themselves a reputation and rare-trust to feature a breadth of artists and DJs on their billings – girls or boys.
Building the GGG identity over time, Louise and the girls now have the sort-after power to play anything they want – without judgement. What started as a Hip-Hop/R&B all-nighter now features everything from the electronic tastes of Piu Piu to Betty’s penchant for weird 80s B-sides. They’ve created an environment, a formula that’ll have most promoters at their knees: “The people that come in, come in early then stay all night – they trust us. They’re really open-minded. They’ll go from singing along to Hannah Montanna to then hearing something really out-there.” This ability to jump genres and still hold a crowd isn’t an easy to feat to take. Check the videos from past parties as the full sweaty club jives to a line-ups that spans Mykki Blanco to Lil Silva.
Up on the billing for GGG’s last edition was Moxie. A new addition to the ranks of BBC Radio 1, she no doubt represents the same GGG-spirit over here. While her sets in London may follow more underground values, GGG was an open opportunity to play what she wanted, indulge in the tracks that you might not get away with outside the club doors of GGG. “Moxie wanted to play Rihanna and that night she could finally play it – it’s cool you can go anyway you like… For GGG it was definitely the idea that we wanted to brand ourselves guilt-free.” It’s simply a given that anyone can play what they want; as Piu Piu says: “if you’re sets good, it’s good” (check Lil Silva’s setlist from the same night featuring Ciara).
Right now they’re marking a pretty-much boundary-less time when it comes to not just what’s played out of the decks but also who’s behind them (Louise plucks at the over-sized blue shirt she’s wearing: “It’s the same with fashion, I wear menswear most of the time, it’s not a big deal, we don’t think about it anymore.”)
“People finally understand that it’s not because you’re a girl that you can’t be a dork. It’s not something reserved to boys – girls can be complete dorks too. I think that’s essentially what it is. When you become a DJ you spend hours listening to music in your bedroom, practicing and not talking to people.”
“It’s the way we brand DJs and the way we brand female DJs that’s changed. Originally people like Ellen Allien were focussing on being techno DJs, faceless a-sexual producers (it didn’t matter how you dressed or what you ate) but because of fashion now you have your Alexa Chungs.”
GGG have re-established their own brand of DJs. Creating a lifestyle (aided by their online living – something Brodinski’s knocked for 10 with Bromance) – they can play Rihanna, they can wear short dresses, embrace a feminity that can at times be lost on Clubland yet still keep the credibility they deserve. “If we want to brand ourselves guilt-free sexy we’re going to brand ourselves sexy but we just never felt comfortable with a guy doing that for us…”
Both GGG and Louise have an attitude and a purpose soon to go beyond French shores. Their last flyer with the flicked Vs pictures a refreshing power they’re putting it into practice “…We wouldn’t have another woman say to us either: ‘oh you’re a cute girl DJ let’s brand you this way’ – I’d say how about fuck you, I don’t want to be cute.”