Christine and the Queens’ poignant, passionate electronic pop thoughtfully questions gender, sexuality, and identity. Influenced by consummate performers like David Bowie, Laurie Anderson, and Michael Jackson, singer, songwriter, choreographer, and producer Chris often combines atmospheric music with multimedia experiences. He reflected on his turbulent adolescence on 2014′s debut album Chaleur Humaine, which announced him as a distinctively open-hearted talent with the singles “St. Claude” and “Tilted.” With 2018′s widely acclaimed Chris, a repudiation of gender stereotypes set to ’80s R&B sounds, his music reached a pop apex that he followed with ambitious, theatrically inspired works like 2022’s fantastical expression of identity Redcar les adorables étoiles (prologue) and 2023′s Paranoïa, Angels, True Love, both of which underscored Christine and the Queens’ commitment to making listeners think, feel, and move.
Born Héloïse Létissier in Nantes in 1988 to a teacher and English professor, Chris grew up in an artistic, literary household and took piano and dance lessons at an early age. Later, he studied theater at École Normale Supérieure de Lyon (ENS Lyon) and moved to Paris in 2010. Following a bad breakup, he embarked on a music career, taking the Christine and the Queens moniker as an homage to the drag queens who danced with him while he performed. Christine and the Queens’ debut EP Miséricorde appeared in 2011, with the Mac Abbey EP following a year later. Also in 2012, the project toured with Woodkid, Lykke Li, and the Dø, and their dynamic stage shows won the Best Discovered Act award at Le Printemps de Bourges Festival and the Premières Francos award at another festival, Les Francofolies de La Rochelle.
After signing with Because Music, Christine and the Queens issued 2013′s Nuit 17 à 52 EP, which became the project’s first release to appear on the French albums chart SNEP. Arriving in June 2014, the full-length Chaleur Humaine delivered songs inspired by Redcar’s teenage years that featured the single “Saint Claude.” Taking inspiration from Kendrick Lamar, science fiction, classical and house music, the album was an international critical and commercial success. A top ten hit in nine countries (including France, where it received diamond certification), it was released in an English version as Christine and the Queens in the U.S. in October 2015. This edition of the album included collaborations with Perfume Genius and Tunji Ige as well as additional production work by Ash Workman, and reached number 48 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. In the U.K., the English version was released as Chaleur Humaine in February 2016, ultimately peaking at number two on the U.K. Albums Chart and spawning a hit single in “Tilted.”
Chris wrote, arranged, and produced the project’s second album, Chris, a set of songs that incorporated tougher, ’80s funk and R&B influences and lyrics that questioned traditional gender roles. Featuring the Dâm-Funk collaboration “Girlfriend,” the album arrived in French and English versions in September 2018. Certified platinum in France and silver in the U.K., Chris topped the Heatseekers Albums chart in the U.S. Christine and the Queens spent a year and a half touring in support of the album; during that time, Chris also collaborated with Charli XCX on the 2019 single “Gone” and earned accolades including nominations for Brit Awards, GLAAD Media Awards and the 2019 Victoires de la Musique. The 2019 death of his mother informed February 2020′s La Vita Nuova, an EP whose title track featured a collaboration with Caroline Polachek. The release was accompanied by a short film directed by Colin Solal Cardo with choreography by award-winning choreographer Ryan Heffington, whose work includes the video for Sia’s smash hit “Chandelier.” A year later, a deluxe version of the EP with live versions of some of its songs appeared. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Christine and the Queens performed live streaming shows on social media, and appeared on Lady Gaga’s One World: Together at Home. Later in the year, the project contributed a track to the second season of Amazon Prime Video’s series Hanna and worked with the band Indochine on “3Sex,” an update of the band’s 1985 single “3e sexe.”
In 2021, Chris recorded Christine and the Queens’ next album in two weeks at his home studio in Paris. He then decamped to Los Angeles to record with producer Mike Dean, known for his work with the Weeknd, Lana Del Ray, and Kanye West. That September saw the release of the Joseph EP, which paired a cover of George Michael’s “Freedom” with the French standard “Comme l’oiseau.” Two months later, Christine and the Queens and Polachek appeared on Charli XCX’s single “New Shapes” from her album Crash. In 2022, the 070 Shake collaboration “Body” preceded the November release of Redcar les adorables étoiles (prologue) . Billed as the work of Christine & the Queens Presents Redcar, the album’s ambitious exploration of sensuality and identity took on an operatic scope. Cracking the Top 40 of the French album charts, Redcar les adorables étoiles (prologue) peaked at number 45 on the U.K. Albums chart and number seven on the U.K. Independent Album charts. Paranoïa, Angels, True Love, the follow-up to Redcar les adorables étoiles (prologue), appeared in June 2023. Once again co-produced by Dean, the album tapped into the themes of love, loss, and transformation within Tony Kushner’s Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America, and featured contributions from Madonna and 070 Shake. ~ Heather Phares & Matt Collar