So our big question is: has Héloïse Letissier called Elton John back yet?
Last month, Sir Elton called the singer, who is best known for leading Christine and the Queens, and he got her voicemail. Surprisingly, she didn’t return his call, and in fact still hasn’t. What?
“I’m really shy and phoning someone sometimes makes me panic,” says Letissier, speaking from Paris a couple of weeks before returning to the U.S. for another touring bout. “The phone is weird, you can’t see people’s faces and you’re just talking to them. It makes me anxious.” But it’s all good with Sir Elton: “I met him recently and apologized and explained about that, and he hugged me. I was blushing so hard, it was crazy. But he gave me a big hug, so I think he understood.”
Her fetching performances find the 27-year-old drawing from Michael Jackson’s signature moves and pairing them with voluptuous voguing, a la ‘80s Madonna. But it’s Letissier’s electro-indie debut album — “Chaleur Humaine,” which translates as “human warmth” — that’s causing a stir on the pop scene. The record was only released outside of France last year after Letissier re-recorded it with English language tracks, allowing new fans into her fun imaginative musical world.
She found her name and her game in London around 2010 after visiting the famous Soho nightclub, Madame Jojo’s, which is known for its fabulous trans cabaret and sadly closed in 2014 in a gentrification hustle. It was the bravura of the performers at the tiny club that inspired Letissier: Hence, the “Queens” were born. But she already had Christine on her side a long time before that.
“I was using the name before in various incarnations since I was a kid,” says the Nantes native. “My friends and family got used to me talking about Christine. People would joke, how’s Christine today. It’s a stage character not belonging to me. Being free of myself, not belonging to anyone was important.”
Letissier just scored huge kudos with a knockout performance at Coachella, after which Frank Ocean sought her out backstage. Katy Perry, Sufjan Stevens and the mother of modern dance pop, Madonna, have all given her props recently.
“I don’t think about too much,” says Letissier of all this big-name attention. “This is all happening with my first album, I’m still a baby. The task is not done, it’s just the beginning of something.”