Apr 6, 2022
6 min read
Chloé Caillet has turned house music into her travelog. The DJ, producer, and multi-instrumentalist just touched back down in Ibiza after two weeks on tour. From her mini farmhouse home in the middle of a forest, she sits on the floor for a chat with Gray Area while her cat lounges behind and her husky pup Cosmo orbits next to her.
“I spend my life on the road touring, meeting people. I’m around lots of different types of energies and noise.” Caillet explains. “It’s loud, which I love so much about my job. But I find when I’m able to come back and retreat to a place where there’s nature and you wake up to birds and trees. I feel a little bit more clarity, and I definitely sleep better.”
It’s not exactly what dance music fanatics think of when they imagine Ibiza, but she enjoys a balance of the busy summers and quiet winters. Having grown up around major cities with heavy dance music scenes, she appreciates the diversity the island has to offer.
Caillet was born and raised in New York City and moved to Paris at 11 years old. Her journey as a musician began when she was seven with classical piano lessons. By 16, she knew for sure she wanted to pursue music. So, she studied jazz piano at a conservatory in the UK for high school.
Her passion is crystal clear: “I was so determined. There was nothing else. It was just music every day, all day. Whether it was listening to records, going to shows, playing in a band, writing songs, learning a new instrument, hanging around artists – everything was about music.”
“I sort of got expelled from school,” Caillet continues nonchalantly. The rebellious teenager taught herself guitar and songwriting while stuck at home. “It drove my parents nuts to the point where they were like, ok, that’s all she thinks about. That’s the only thing we’re going to do. Convincing your parents you’re going to be a musician isn’t an easy thing,” she says.
At 19, she went back to New York for college and joined prog-rock bands playing keys. After graduating university, she worked in A&R at Universal Records. She launched a creative agency as she searched for her place in the industry before finally leaping into being an artist.
Caillet remembers thinking, “I know a lot of DJs, I know a lot of bookers, I know a lot of club owners. I’m just going to start DJing because it’s something I can do.” Before she even gained the skills to DJ, Caillet had already booked her first gig.
“I basically picked up a set of decks, brought them home, called a friend and said, ‘hey can you come over and teach me? I got a gig next week,’” she says coolly.
Caillet’s initial entry to electronic music was through a DJ friend who showed her the minimal house sound coming out of France. “I grew up in Paris around the Ed Banger music scene. I used to listen to drum & bass and dubstep and house music. I remember being blown away [not just] by the simplicity of it but how strong it was.” She later moved to Bristol, a city steeped in bass music culture. Her life was flooded with D&B and dubstep.
Daft Punk’s Homework was the defining album for Caillet. She always loved French touch and, to this day, is impressed with the underrated music coming out of the strong yet intimate Paris scene.
“I was brought in by friends but then I always did my own research, went to raves, bought CDs, downloaded music, watched YouTube videos… I digested all of it,” she says.
Three years ago, she dove into Ableton, considering it sample-friendly and full of dope stock plugins. Whether laying down a melody on live instruments or hearing a perfect funk sample, Caillet almost always starts a track in a different place. The depths of her knowledge allow her to improvise and feel the freedom that comes with trusting her musical instincts.
“I’m investing in hardware and running it through really good preamps – really focusing on nailing the sound before it even hits Ableton. That’s what makes you special: when you have specific synths you fuck with… that’s how you build your sound,” Caillet says.
She records samples on the go, carrying a Zoom H2N recorder to collect the urban soundscape of traffic, the ocean, or a conversation in a different language. Caillet says, “Every city has its own sound. Every taxi has its own honk.”
House music culture is all-encompassing in how it touches on art, fashion, and community. They collectively build upon spaces and sounds that allow LGBTQI+ and people of color to feel at home. Caillet says, “Let’s be honest – gay crowds for me are the best. Queer parties so far have been some of my favorite gigs because I feel safe and included.” She also lets her girlfriend lead her creative direction.
Five years ago marked the beginning of PVBLIC XCESS, a collective with Josh Ludlow. Their first EP releases in April. Her ethos is simple: create the best parties ever.
“There’s nothing better than a good dance party where everyone is united,” Caillet says.
Caillet released the deep house single “LOVE AIN’T OVER” and a subsequent remix EP for this satisfyingly groovy track that invites you to the dancefloor. As PVBLIC XCESS, Caillet and Ludlow just dropped “Don’t Wanna (Get Down)” featuring Pat Kalla on their outlet XCESS Records. The collab sizzles with elements of disco, funk, and acid with melodic vocals that are playfully rhythmic.
Caillet doesn’t take this lifestyle for granted. “We were so fortunate to live such amazing lives and travel the world and do what we love. You have to also take care of your body and your mind. And there’s a lot of depression, there’s a lot of anxiety in the music industry that is unspoken about,” she says.
Caillet immerses herself in sound baths and uses techniques like tapping and meditation to reset her internal rhythms and achieve better mental health. Most of all, she reminds herself, “Don’t be afraid. Do what you want to do.”