Les 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. ~ Bradley Torreano, Rovi