Louisa Pillot, a.k.a. L.A.-via-New York City dark devastating DJ Louisahhh!!!, belongs to a boys’ club. She’s the only woman — and resident American — on Bromance Records, the Paris-based record label founded by Brodinski, who along with his Kanye-approved colleague Gesaffelstein has dropped whole new fault lines into the intersection of rap, industrial techno, and anything else that makes you want to smash your hips through a brick wall. In the case of Louisahhh!!!’s forthcoming EP, Shadow Work (out September 18), that was analytical psychiatry pioneer Carl Jung.
“’Shadow Work’ is a term used in Jungian psychology to describe ‘sub personalities’, or the darkest parts of ourselves, that get pushed beneath the surface, into the subconscious, as a coping mechanism,” she explains in a press release. On “Change,” the first brooding listen off her six-track effort, such thoughts bubble up as anxiously tap-tapping, subterranean blips, themselves eventually buried by ominous thumping, like a rabbit thumping on the ground in warning. “In my soul I got a snag,” she murmurs close to the mic, her vowels clipped and sibilants slightly buffed around the edges. “See if you can find it.”
“The lyrics started with the ‘ch-ch-ch-change’ over an empty, ‘warm-leatherette’-inspired beat,” LOUISAHHH!!! tells SPIN of the track in an email. “The original vocal idea was much more melodic and lyrically vague, and I was encouraged to go deeper. At the time I wrote it, I was feeling really conflicted with what I was trying to be, who I thought I should be, and where I was actually at, emotionally.” Her first solo release since 2013’s Transcend, two tracks of horror-porn whispers and gasps jackknifed by ceiling-crumbling beats — which was followed by 2014’s Traces and this year’s Friction, both with French veteran Maelstrom — Shadow Work is Louisahhh!!!’s attempt to “embrac[e] the shadow unconditionally, which seems to make the dark parts less scary or dangerous.”
And yet, she adds, “Change” is the “poppiest” of the EP’s relentlessly driving tracks; perhaps that’s not altogether surprising from a musician who tried to cover Iggy Pop when she played guitar in her high school’s jazz band. Such avant-garde genre fusion refers back to Bromance, which she writes, “tries to respect the heritage and energy of ‘real techno’ while introducing fresh ideas.” Since her teenage years she’s graduated from sneaking into Manhattan clubs as a minor to overcoming “crippling performance anxiety with instruments” by actually being the one spinning on deck. Meeting Brodinski through mutual friends in 2010 (check out their charming B2B set at Beatport’s Berlin offices) and working with him and the rest of the Bromance crew has pushed Louisahhh!!! to come closer to penetrating not just the darkness, but her own insecurities.
“I really want everybody to like me but sometimes if you’re being brave and authentic, it’s gonna rub some people the wrong way, or they’re not gonna feel it,” she writes. “Being an upsetter is the path forward. I’m excited to lose my fear of being disliked in order to be honest.”