Les Rita Mitsouko


- Frédéric "Fred" Chichin, 1 May 1954 – 28 November 2007
- Catherine Ringer, 18 October 1957

Catherine Ringer started her professional career on stage in the late 1970s in productions with Michael Lonsdale's Théâtre de Recherche Musicale as well as musical and dance productions. In 1976 she met the Argentine dancer and choreographer Marcia Moretto that gave her dance classes. Next to this she sang in some performances with compositions of the Greek composer Xenakis. This didn’t pay the rent however so Ringer also performed in pornographic movies such as 'La Fessée' (1976) and 'Body love' (1977). At the time Fred Chichin was active in the rock bands Fassbinder (with Jean Neplin), Taxi Girl (with Daniel Darc), and Gazoline (with Alain Kan). The two met and started performing in the early 1980s in alternative spaces such as the Pali-Kao, a squatted factory building in Belleville, Paris. Here the name Les Rita Mitsouko was chosen. They recorded a first single 'Don’t forget the night'  but it stayed unnoticed.

In 1981 Catherine’s friend and dance teacher Marcia Moretto died of cancer. In tribute Catherine wrote 'Marcia Baïla' which they recorded for they’re debut album in 1985. The single rose to number 2 on the French record charts that summer. Philippe Gautier directed a vibrant and widely viewed music video to accompany the record. Rita Mitsouko was a creative and eccentric debut album, combining elements of punk, rock, synth pop and jazz.

American record producer and musician Tony Visconti produced the band's next two albums, 'The No Comprendo' and 'Marc et Robert', helping to polish and perfect their sound. These two albums feature both French and English lyrics. Singles from these albums were 'C'est comme ça' and 'Andy'  but the band wasn’t able to break through to the mainstream and stayed a bit of a cult phenomenon. In 1987 they worked together with Jean Luc Godard for the movie Soigne ta droite. The movie is described as "a fantasy for actor, camera and tape recorder", and made up off several sketches in which certain actors play several real or fictional roles to a background of rock music, namely Les Rita Mitsouko.

Although the French market didn’t recognise the talent, abroad Les Rita was far more successful. The American band Sparks collaborated with Les Rita Mitsouko on 'Marc et Robert'. Russell Mael sings lead vocals with Catherine Ringer on three of the album's tracks, 'Singing in the shower', 'Live in Las Vegas', and 'Hip kit'. In 1993, the video of 'Y'a d'la haine', from the album 'Système D', was awarded Clip of the Year by MTV Europe. On 'Système D' Catherine Ringer sings a duet, 'My Love Is Bad', with Iggy Pop. Variéty also includes a vocal duo in which Ringer is joined by guest musician Serj Tankian (from System of a Down).

In fact it took until the millennium for Les Rita Mitsouko to have local chart success. 'Cool Frénésie', their first album in seven years, hit the chart at number 3. The two follow up albums also turned out to be successful albums. On November 28th 2007 fate hit the band when Fred Chichin died from cancer. He was only diagnosed with the disease two months before. Catherine Ringer announced she would keep touring in remembrance of her partner. This resulted in the live cd+dvd 'Catherine Ringer chante les Rita Mitsouko à la Cigale', which was released in 2008.

In 2011 Catherine finaly releases her first real solo album, 'Ring n'Roll'. This raw and intense album contains twelve self penned tracks in which she deals with her husband passing away.

On the web:

- Rita Mitsouko's website: http://www.ritamitsouko.com
- Rita Mitsouko's page on Radio France: http://www.rfimusique.com/siteen/biographie/biographie_6063.asp
- English fan site: http://www.ritamitsouko.org/menuUK2.htm

If you like this, you probably like... / european counterparts:

Alaska & Dinarama / Fangoria (Spain)

Rosenstolz (Germany)

What do we think:

DB: This is one of the few examples of a French band actually being more popular outside of France. Especcially England took a liking to this oddball duo, probably helped by their liason with the Sparks. If you surf the net you'll find dozens of English websites dedicated to the band. Strangely enough the band's sound is typically french with a hint of cabaret and french style. It took the duo fourteen years to finally get back with chart succes in France. Nowadays (and certainly after the untimely death of Fred) they are considered a national pride.

PR: Very creative duo that gave French alternative pop music an enormous push in the eighties. Behind all their madness and humour, Catherine and Fred actually are great songwriters and musicians. This kind of music only succeeds when you have a lot of talent, otherwise it becomes a parody. Les Rita Mitsouka succeeded indeed and deserve our respect for the way they reinvented themselves with almost every new record. Even nowadays, almost every song of the couple sounds fresh and original. And their video clips are fantastic...


♪♪♪ - Rita Mitsouko - 1984 

♪♪♪♪ - The No Comprendo - 1986 

♪♪♪ - Marc et Robert - 1988 

♪♪ - Re (Remix album) - 1990

♪♪♪ - Système D - 1993 

♪♪ - Acoustiques (Live, from an M6 televised concert) - 1996

♪♪♪♪♪ - Cool Frénésie  - 2000

♪♪♪ - La Femme Trombone - 2002

♪♪♪ - En concert avec l'Orchestre Lamoureux - 2004

♪♪♪♪ - Variéty - 2007

Catherine Ringer solo:

♪♪♪♪ - Catherine Ringer chante les Rita Mitsouko - 2008

♪♪♪♪ - Ring n' Roll - 2011

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided