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Hi/Lo: Five Albums That Inspired Louisahhh’s The Practice of Freedom

Photo by Stas Knop from Pexels.

The Paris-based techno-punk DJ and producer Louisahhh released her debut album, The Practice of Freedom, on March 12. Resident Advisor called it “fierce and snarling”; Ibiza Spotlight named it their Album of the Month. But this self-assured debut isn’t asking for anyone’s love. It is a bold, unapologetic manifesto. It is a clear-eyed and full-throated call to arms. Described by NPR as a “raw … kick in the gut” that subverts expectations, The Practice of Freedom is the first album in years that speaks to the parts of myself I had refused to acknowledge.

Some people write techno off as cold, but this album is hot, and as someone who has always run too hot to be cool, I revelled in it. The Practice of Freedom reached right into my visceral memory and pulled me back to sweaty mosh pits, onto heaving dancefloors, into my teenage bedroom. It is galvanic and vital, the sound of blood pulsing in the ears. I e-mailed Louisahhh because I could no longer keep my fangirling to myself, and I asked if she would be willing to share which five albums most influenced her work on the album. Her answers, edited only for clarity and style, are as follows:

1. Garbage – Version 2.0

When I stumbled upon the video for “Push It” on MTV2 at age 12, my life was forever changed. It was such a powerful alternative to the pop tarts and boy bands that were being marketed to me at the time, and the music articulated all of the darkness and contained aggression I was feeling in a way that was so cool and brutal and LOUD. I am so grateful for this band, and for Shirley Manson being such a good hero, with so much guts and integrity. My wild fanaticism for Garbage (I did at least two school projects on the band in middle school) sent me down a wormhole into discovering Patti Smith, The Pretenders, Siouxsie and the Banshees. This record was also an important point of contact and reference for producer Vice Cooler and me as we started work on The Practice of Freedom.  

2. Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral

Obviously, NIN is a huge influence throughout my life, and it’s sonically evident in The Practice of Freedom. [Editor’s note: Just compare “Reptile” from TDS to “Chaos” from TPoF.] Much like Garbage, this band and specifically this album gave me access to parts of myself, to befriending and loving my shadows, and feeling less alone in them. My dad took me to see the Fragility Tour in 2000 (I was fourteen.  My dad remains totally awesome), and I am so impressed that, 21 years later, the relevance of NIN and how they continue to push boundaries in innovative ways, both in live performance and production. I strive to remain this hungry to grow as an artist for the duration of my working life. 

3. The Smashing Pumpkins – Adore

This cassette lived in our family car, and though it’s one of the most overlooked “heydey” Smashing Pumpkins records (iconic drummer Jimmy Chamberlin had left the band and was replaced by a drum machine for much of this album), I love the (you guessed it!) darkness that Adore holds and the lush beauty of Flood’s co-production (Flood also produced The Downward Spiral). I have trouble listening to this album now; it makes me too sad, but it’s important and has been formative to my understanding of what a record can be, even if it is the sound of “falling apart,” quoth Billy “the Egomaniac” Corgan, which is totally bonkers.

4. Party Monster Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 

VITALIC! MISS KITTIN AND THE HACKER! LADYTRON! FELIX DA HOUSECAT! The first time I ever did cocaine, we watched this movie (an ominous warning, which I failed to heed). The music (and my eventual recovery from cocaine addiction) remain powerful themes in my work, and I am really proud to call several artists featured on this excellent soundtrack my peers today. The technopunk-electroclash-nihilist club-kid sound of this moment imprinted me like a baby duck. I love it still and it feels once again relevant as it did when I started DJing around the time the film came out.  

5. Le Tigre – Le Tigre

Kathleen Hanna is such a force, and the songwriting on this record is so funny and gritty and badass, even though about half the words are impossible to understand in riot grrrl shouting over lo-fi electronics. I discovered this record at age eighteen and it remains incredibly relevant, giving me a blueprint of how to make music with a cause that isn’t boring or annoying. A lot of interviews have remarked on the rage that’s contained within The Practice of Freedom and it didn’t feel that way when we were making it (though ironically, the second LP is feeling really angry as I’m writing), and I think this eponymous debut from Le Tigre somehow gave me permission to feel my feelings, as a FUCKING WOMAN, and put them into my work.   

Find The Practice of Freedom here.

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