Words: Tim Heap
After bursting onto the charts in 2015 with 'Tilted', a song about feeling out of place, Christine and the Queens – also known as Chris – was quickly embraced by LGBTQ audiences, not least for the fact that she spoke openly about being pansexual.
With critical acclaim and commercial success, a penchant for pushing boundaries and buttons in her music and beyond, and an endearing honesty and openness, Chris was a ready-made Attitude Artist Award-winner, collecting the award at the ceremony last night.
For her cover story in Attitude's Awards issue - out to order globally and download to any device - the 31 year old sat down with editor-in-chief Cliff Joannou for a chat covering her recent highs, including releasing her sophomore album and headlining Glastonbury and Coachella, and lows, the death of her mother and a painful break up.
Chrstine and the Queens shot exclusively for Attitude's Awards issue by Ferry van der Nat
Speaking of receiving the Artist Award, she says: “Embracing my queerness sparks my life as an artist. I think before that, I was in shackles mentally.
“I decided to embrace the freakiness in me at some point and I became an artist.
“I wouldn’t be an artist without the queer community, the queer art. It opened my eyes. I’m deeply humbled and I have to give back to that community because I’m born out of it. I was birthed by drag queens, for God’s sake.”
But speaking her queer truth publicly hasn’t always been plain sailing. When Chris – real name Héloïse Letissier – first talked about her sexuality in France, when promoting her debut album 'Chaleur Humaine' in 2014, she recalls being mocked.
“On the first album, people tolerated things because I was not really threatening," she says.
"I had long hair. I was safe and sexual, but I was not really working on my sexuality aggressively. I was labelled as a marketing construct at some point.
“I was like, ‘Do you realise how brave I had to be in 2014, when I had to explain pansexuality on TV, and people were laughing at my face?’
“I experienced homophobia during the first cycle of my record, but I never talked about it because I wanted the art to be the thing and I wanted to keep on talking about that.”
Her most recent album, titled 'Chris', explored her more masculine side, and she tells Attitude that in the past she’s struggled to define herself properly.
“I’m scarred as fuck,” she says. “When I was young, I used to feel monstrous. Was I a young man trapped in a woman’s body? I don’t feel I have body dysmorphia.
“Even when I loved, sometimes when I fell in love with a man, I sometimes felt attracted to the men as the man I wanted to be but could never be. It was super-intricate. Or I fell in love with a woman and she transitioned.
“I was exploring nuances right away but when you’re young, nuances are not always the best thing. From that, I keep scars because I got rejected pretty badly.
“I got shamed because I was willing to explore.”
Read the full interview with Christine and the Queens in the Attitude Awards issue, out now.