YOU magazine March 22nd 1987

LE NOUVEAU DUO

Straight out of France, Les Rita Mitsouko crash through national barriers. Their music pulsates and raises the temperature. Their capricious and provocative nature startles and enchants. They are Fred Chichin, 32, and Catherine Ringer, 29, a Parisian boy-girl outfit with a touch of the avant-garde...

'Marcia baila', released last summer, launched them in Japan, Western Europe and the United States. The song is about Catherine's dance teacher who died of cancer. The juxtaposition of Marcia's early death, pulsating rhythms and the abstract presentation of the video has earned them a place in the New York's Museum of Modem Art, where the video is now on show.

'We didn't necessarily want to portray Marcia in the video,' says Catherine. 'We wanted abstract images which would fuse with the music, rather than tell the story of Marcia. We also wanted to depict various styles of dance, such as flamenco, ballet and jazz-funk.'

Les Rita Mitsouko have been acclaimed as the French Eurythmics, because of the eclectic character of the duo.' The way in which we work is less rigid with two people than say, with a group of five people - it's much more flexible,' says Fred. ' Our structure is less restrictive and ideas can be formulated quickly. It's more dynamic.'

'At the same time, there are so many musical influences and pieces of information coming from all parts of the world today, that we increasingly want to be free of any particular style. Eclecticism is almost inevitable now.'

'It's a logical enough analogy [The Eurythmics], because there are two of us, a boy and a girl,' adds Catherine. 'If that's how people see us, then that's okay. It's their interpretation.'

Their latest album, Les Rita Mitsouko présentent the No Comprendo, was produced by themselves and Tony Visconti in Paris and London. The energy and outlandish humour it exudes originate in the strange and seductive combination of old and new ideas which came together over a period of time.

'The first stage of getting the album together took place in our studio at home. Next we went into a studio in Paris, then finished it with Tony Visconti in London over a period of five weeks.'

They liked the work Visconti had donc with people such as David Bowie (the Lodger album), and sent him some of their tapes. He agreed immediately to work with them.

For Fred and Catherine, English is a second language. Four tracks recorded in English on the album add another dimension to their versatility. 'We do it purely because we want to. It is not a question of translating from French to accommodate an Anglo-Saxon audience,' says Fred.

'Naturally, I am more restricted regarding vocabulary in English, but the ideas evolve the same way as they do in French,' adds Catherine.

Renowned film-maker, Jean-Luc Godard, was there to capture on celluloid, the time and effort spent by the temptress Rita recording and preparing the album, The film, Rock X, is documentary about the birth of a record, not unlike the work he did with the Rolling Stones in One Plus One.

Plans for a European tour, followed by trips Io the United States and Canada, are already under way. Catherine and Fred are going to New York to find quality musicians to accompany them on tour, and have already formulated ideas for the stage presentation.

'We want to put on a show in the style of the old music hall,' says Catherine. 'We want to make the audience dance. You don't need to be on your feet, you can dance with all the parts of your body.'

Fred expands: 'There will be ten of us altogether. Catherine, myself, five musicians and three dancers. Simple lighting and virtually no decoration or backdrop means that each dancer and musician will have to be a personality in his or her own right. The tour should reach London in May.'

'C'est comme ça' from the album, has been released as a single in France and is riding high in the charts there. Catherine explains the simple but brilliant video : 'We had no script, nothing written down at all. We wanted to get an expressionist feel to it by way of humait efforts. Like the way I move my head at different speeds.' She demonstrates. 'We also used a three-dimensional effect. All the filming was done in just one day.'

The single and video, in the original French, are now available here. Le Eurythmics nouveau? Non. Rita Mitsouko are too quirky for such comparisons.

Let's just say that even if they don't eclipse Annie and Dave, you'Il be hearing a lot more of Catherine and Fred.

KAREN BEYNON