Rita Mitsouko came together in the Spring of 1979 when guitarist
Fred Chichin and singer Catherine Ringer began working on the
same theater production. Upon their first meeting, they were inseparable,
talking until they realized they should start the band together.
Ringer decided to take on lyrical duties, while Chichin became
the resident instrumentalist. They debuted later that year, with
Ringer on the organ and Chichin on guitar, while everything else
was prerecorded. Around this time they also drafted Jean Naplin
into the mix, although he was never a member; he contributed songs
to most of their albums and became a frequent collaborator. They
realized early that the chemistry they had developed did not translate
well to other musicians, thus they decided to keep the group a
duo. They performed around Europe, playing several clubs and bars
until finally playing under the name les Rita Mitsouko for the
first time in November of 1980.
They were a very popular live act at the time, and they collaborated
with other artists often, most notably with playwright Armando
Llamas before his death in 1981. The band signed to Virgin Records
in 1982, giving them their first opportunity to release a single.
"Minuit Dansant" was the song, and critics immediately branded
the band minimalists. The B-side of the record, "Don't Forget
the Nite," became a surprise radio hit and was re-released as
the A-side soon after. They moved to Cologne and began recording
their eponymous debut album, and by the end of 1984 the album
was out and "La Jalousie" and "Marcia Baila" became big hits in
Europe. Ensuing tours with the Smiths and Kid Creole revealed
their growing popularity, and by 1986 they were ready to record
their second album. Filmmaker Jean-Luc Goddard filmed the process,
resulting in the oddball documentary Soigne Ta Droite, which is
of interest chiefly because of the unreleased material that appears
on the soundtrack. Producer Tony Visconti was brought in, and
the recording process was moved to England to finish the project.
The No Comprendo was finally released at the end of the year to
a big reception, making them one of the hottest bands in Europe
and winning them many music awards. The band moved to New York
in early 1987 to hold auditions for a live band. The following
tour, which covered most of Europe, was an enormous success and
led to the eventual re-launching of La Cigale, an old theater
that the band enjoyed. During the tour they also made friends
with Sparks, who invited them to collaborate at some point in
the future. Musicians like Boy George and Michael Hutchence voiced
their interest in working with the group, but these projects failed
to go anywhere and the band just moved ahead to the next album.
Marc et Robert was the next album, written mostly in the studio,
and featuring songs written and performed with Sparks. Another
tour followed, leading to the construction of the band's new studio
in their home.
By 1990, they decided to release a remix album (Re) and perform
a month-long engagement at La Cigale. The performances were so
successful that the two agreed to prolong the appearance, staying
until January of 1991. It was then that they realized that they
wanted to record their albums on-stage at La Cigale, leading to
the construction of an elaborate recording setup in the theater.
They began work on the album in 1992, eventually releasing Systeme
D in November of 1993. More hits appeared, including a duet with
Iggy Pop on "My Love Is Bad." Another European tour resulted from
the release, and they worked with several other musicians during
their trips, including Coba and Richard Galliano. A live album
was released next, Acoustiques, which sparked another tour through
Eastern Europe. Their records were properly released to America
in 1999, and following a quiet period they reappeared in 2000
with the Cool Frenesie album.