THE STANDARD: You're currently in Paris for Fashion Week, where you DJed for a magazine launch party. This is far from your first time in the city; you were raised in Paris until you moved to NYC at the age of 9, then returned to Paris as a teenager. Can you tell us about your relationship with Paris?
LISAS: Paris is at the heart of my universe. My connection to the city is profound – culturally and artistically, I feel like it really formed me.
What role did Paris play in your upbringing?
My most formative years were spent in Paris, where I lived for half of my life. The vibrant music scene there greatly influenced my music taste and career. France is a country that democratizes access to art and culture, and I consider myself fortunate to have benefited from these opportunities. The public education system is exceptional – I was able to study art history in high school and attend various theaters, concerts, and museums as part of my education.
You’re now based in New York, but that’s just a part of your story. You were born in Belgium and spent years in Paris. So there are two Lisas: a New York one and a European one who can speak perfect French on Le Bain’s dance floor. Do you feel this dichotomy, or do you mostly consider yourself 100% New Yorker?
Yes, I feel the dichotomy. In New York I feel like a Parisian, and in Paris I feel like a New Yorker. But somehow at the same time, I feel I am at home in both places. It’s a weird sort of in-the-middle feeling, as if I am a continental orphan.
What made you fall in love with New York and decide to settle there?
I was seduced, and ultimately convinced, by the openness of its people, the untamed atmosphere of the city, its grandeur, and the music scene. I was sneaking out as a teenager and going to indie and punk shows in the city and Brooklyn. These experiences left an indelible impression on me, and left me with memories of freedom and belonging I had never felt before. When I started feeling like the possibilities in Paris were limited and hit a wall in my life, I knew New York would be the perfect match to find myself again.
There are even more than two Lisas. There's Lisa the sound engineer, who got certified in New York and worked in studio with artists such as David Byrne, Oneohtrix Point Never, Floating Points, and Belly. There's Lisa who used to play keyboards in the band Seedy Films and toured with The Rapture, playing keys and doing backup vocals. And then there's LISAS the techno DJ. Is that why your DJ name is LISAS, plural? To represent the many facets of Lisa?
You nailed this one, bravo! Indeed, LISAS is an ode to the different parts of me, and my personality. It represents the plurality of the paths I have taken in my career – which wasn’t exactly a linear trajectory. I am grateful to be here today, and to have worked on such a variety of projects, I feel it has shaped who I have become, and the individuality that I bring to the booth.
You’re the new resident DJ of Katie’s and Too Sharf’s monthly party “Midnite Request Line,” which has a strong techno focus. We've heard that you're not a typical techno DJ and that you have a unique style. How would you define your DJing style?
Post-apocalyptic arpeggiators meet mermaid synthesis.
How does your background in sound engineering influence the music you play as a DJ?
I definitely use the dynamic range of tracks as a tool and tend to play with it to create tension, release and groove. Plus it makes me attentive to the frequency spectrum as a whole, and what elements might be complimentary or lacking in the tracks I play. I like to use a lot of really sparse tracks (like simple arpeggiators, vocals or percussions) and layer those to my selections to paint a broader sonic picture.
How does your background as an indie-rock musician influence LISAS’ techno?
It was actually the opposite, techno influenced my indie-rock stint. In Seedy Films, I was writing songs about my dreams of Robert Hood, and faster punk tunes. And playing in The Rapture just trained me to be a better musician, and how to survive touring life. I was a big fan of their music as a teenager, but it became clear that it wasn’t fulfilling me as my taste (and the times) had evolved. The instruments and the typical indie structures felt quite limiting when you consider the edge, boldness and crisp delineation one can bring to electronic music production or to a DJ set.
What made you fall in love with techno?
I've been a fan of techno since my teenage years. I was first exposed to other electronic genres like eurodance, electroclash, and IDM, but I eventually discovered techno in Parisian clubs. My friends and I became obsessed, constantly looking for new sounds and venues to experience them, often raves in warehouses on the outskirts of Paris, and in popular clubs such as Rex Club, Concrete, Batofar.
I really fell in love with the vastness that the genre encompasses. Sonically, it is so forward thinking and fresh- there are many spellbinding subtleties and fascinating sound design choices, as well as homages to the classics. Physically, the steady pulses create a space where you can get lost and find yourself all at the same time. As a young person struggling to find my voice and place in the world, this sense of freedom and belonging was exactly what I needed. It reminded me of the feeling I had in my early days in NYC.
Years later, after moving back to NY, I landed a job doing sound for the underground raves in Brooklyn, which eventually led to a gig doing sound in Detroit, for a Movement music festival afterparty. Experiencing the birthplace of the genre and then having the opportunity to work on it myself was like a renewal of vows if you will.
Does your Belgian DNA play a role, given that Belgian techno culture has been one of the most influential in Europe since the early 1990s?
While I'm a big fan of the Belgian techno sound, I don’t have any Belgian relatives or DNA, I was just born there to spice up my story.
Let’s face it, you’re definitely a New York “it” girl. What would be your definition of a New York it girl in 2023?
Unbothered, moisturized, happy, in her lane, focused, flourishing.
Who would be your favorite it girl of the 1990's, 2000's, and 2010's?
For the 1990's, Aaliyah for her sultry vocals, kick ass music videos, and of course her unique sense of fashion. The 2000's would be Britney Spears because hello she is one of the most talented pop stars of all time! 2010's for me is Paris Hilton, she is an obvious choice as an it-girl, and made a really strong comeback as a DJ.
And what about “it” boys?
If you find out where they hang out these days, please let me know!
What’s coming up for LISAS and Lisa?
I have a first ever track under my LISAS moniker that's going to be released soon as part of an upcoming compilation in April. Additionally, I'm really looking forward to scoring an art film in May – it's a project I'm passionate about and can't wait to dive into and create something special. I am also working on my EP and developing my skills as a producer at the studio in Greenpoint that I built with Harris Klahr. It's been a fantastic space for us to collaborate and create music. We’ve been planning the first release of our project, called superwoof! International, which has both of us amazed. It’s like Coil, but better.
In terms of gigs, there is my residency at Le Bain’s Midnite Request Line kicking off the 24th, as well as some upcoming shows in New York. I will be embarking on a Europe tour this summer, which I'm particularly excited about since I'll be returning to one of my favorite cities to play in - Barcelona! It's a busy and exciting time for me.
In your opinion, what makes the New York music scene unique?
It is the incredible diversity and constant innovation that it embodies. There is always something exciting happening in the city's music scene, with a wide variety of genres and styles represented. What really sets New York apart, though, is the passion and dedication of the people who make the music happen. The city is full of musicians, promoters, producers, and fans who all have strong visions and work tirelessly to bring them to life. This spirit of creativity and strong drive is what has made New York such a vibrant and influential music hub for so many decades.
How do you think it will continue to evolve in the coming years?
I believe that the New York music scene will continue to thrive in the coming years. Of course, there are challenges, such as rising rents and gentrification that are threatening the city's DIY spaces, and underground venues. For instance, Magick City in Greenpoint closed its doors recently. We had our first ever show as Seedy Films there and it was hard to say goodbye. Despite this, I remain confident that the passion and creativity of New York's music community will find a way to persevere and continue to push boundaries. Whether it's through new technologies, fresh collaborations, or innovative approaches to promoting music and using spaces, I believe that the New York music scene will remain a vital and dynamic force for many years to come.