FROM STEREOLAB TO HOLOGRAM TEEN – Morgane Lhote On Her New Techno-Kraut Solo Sound

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She spent six years with fiercely independent trance drone masters Stereolab, having been given just a month to learn the keyboard parts to 30 of their songs.

Now 21 years on Morgane Lhote is a fully-fledged solo artist, recording under the name Hologram Teen and planning the release of her debut album.

Paris-born Lhote creates complex cartoonish, electronica-laden soundtracks, which she dubs ‘Techno-Krautrock‘.

Her debut single, the wittily-titled Post-Apocalypteacakes attracted the attention of Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker among others.

As she celebrates new twin-track 7” release Marsangst / Hex These Rules, Morgane tells Matt Catchpole about her ‘all over the shop’ new direction.

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How did you come up with the Hologram Teen name – why did you choose a pseudonym for your solo work rather than releasing music under your own name.

I wanted to come up with something a little more quirky and original. And it is kind of my own name, as this pseudonym is actually an anagram of my first and last names!

You’ve lived in Paris, London and New York and are now based in sunny LA – does where you live have an effect on your work?

I don’t think it does but that’s a good question. My producer and mixer live in NYC though, so I’m probably going to have to go back and forth between the two coasts as I’m working on my first album. I think one way in which it could influence my sound is through chance meetings with musical collaborators.

Stereolab were influenced by groups like Neu! and Faust and your new music has been described a Techno-Krautrock – how do you think it differs from your work with Stereolab?

My music is pretty different from Stereolab’s. It definitely is more dance and electronic oriented, but I guess there could be some similarities in some of the more propulsive beats.

How would you describe your sound for the uninitiated?

Dance meets Horror Soundtracks meets Disco meets French Pop meets electro. It’s a bit all over the shop   (laughs).

Stereolab had an intensively independent philosophy, inspired by Marxism and Situationism. Are they influences you retain, or did you find them too rigid and restricting?

I’m politically aware and involved, but my music is much more playful and abstract. I can’t really imagine myself pushing a big political agenda in my music at this moment in time.

How does it feel working as a solo artist – having been in a band environment for such a long time, not just with Stereolab, but The Projects and also with members of Simian Mobile Disco in The Garden?

It’s amazing to play and write your own songs as opposed to other people’s. I don’t have to answer to or argue with anybody, I love it!

2016 is the 40th anniversary of punk – do you feel there’s a similar DIY philosophy around today with people making and distributing music themselves without the need of record companies and studios?

That’s an interesting way of thinking about it and yes, totally. There’s this feeling of freedom and that anything is possible for self-distribution. You could call it Digital Punk!

Technology has advanced massively since you joined Stereolab in the 1990s, has that been a liberating experience?

Yes, absolutely. With the advent of DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations), everybody can make music from home studios, including myself! I use Ableton Live a lot which is great for audio effects and messing up with samples. Back in the day, I just used a 4-track so it’s a big improvement.

I read you work as video game tester for Disney Interactive – that must be fun. Do you think it has had an influence on your music?

It’s super fun! I don’t think it’s influenced my sound so much now as I’ve always been a big fan of video game music since I was a teenager. I try to not go in the 8-bit direction too much though as it’s a very stylised genre, but my music still reminds some people of video games, so I guess unconsciously I still have this side to my songwriting.

  • Marsangst / Hex These Rules is out now on 7” vinyl through Happy Robots.

About the author

Full time journalist, music lover (obvs) and truly terrible guitarist. You can find Matt on twitter @matcatch

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