Dita Von Teese – best known for her work as a burlesque dancer, model and fashion designer – is venturing into music with her self-titled debut LP. The eclectic performer teased the project with lead single "Rendez-Vous," a breezy funk-pop slow-jam premiering exclusively with Rolling Stone.
Von Teese adopts a French chanteuse vibe on the breezy cut. "Erotic rendez-vous today/ To eat forbidden fruit/ Erotic rendez-vous, she says/ Exotic holiday," she croons in a near-whisper over percolating synth-bass and steel-drum synth tones.
Singer-songwriter Sébastien Tellier wrote and produced the 10-track LP, set for release in February and spanning sparkling electronica to lightly psychedelic pop. "Rendez-Vous" is the first song the duo worked on together.
"I've been a fan of [Sébastien's] music for a long time, and whenever I would perform in Paris, I would invite him to my shows just to meet him," Von Teese tells Rolling Stone. "I got an email from his manager saying that Sebastien wrote a record for me. I gave them the disclaimer that I'm not a singer [and] it's way out of my comfort zone, but how could I say no?"
Von Teese, born Heather Sweet, began her career performing striptease in 1992 and has since become one of the burlesque world's biggest names. Along the way, she's modeled at events for designer like Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton, guest-starred as a burlesque performer on CSI and designed multiple clothing lines.
Though the new eponymous LP marks her breakthrough as a solo artist, Von Teese has previously appeared on singles from synth-pop act Monarchy (2013's "Disintegration") and South African hip-hop duo Die Antwoord (2016's "Gucci Coochie").
She described the album as "me with less make-up," emphasizing the "vulnerability which stands in contrast to [her] stage image of a confident and glamorous woman." She added, "I would never dare say such things in real life, and if I ever really felt like making such declarations of love, I would likely restrain myself right away."
Tellier called Von Teese "a fantasy factory – in the sense that when you think that you've finally pierced her mystery, she turns out to be, more than ever, a creature of dreams, totally out of reach." The songwriter co-produced the album with programmer-keyboardist John Kirby (Blood Orange, Money Mark, Solange) and drummer Daniel Stricker (the Midnight Juggernauts) – billing themselves under the name Mind Gamers – at studios in Sydney, Los Angeles and Paris.
Von Teese says that this new venture outside her comfort zone is "more vulnerable" than the burlesque sets she's perfected over the years. "I've recorded my voice for the burlesque soundtracks I’ve made for my shows, but I think this is very different," she says. "With my burlesque music, I think about visuals of the performance first, and it’s all about the glamour, the fantasy and drama. This album comes from a more vulnerable place, and ultimately, I think it’s a Sebastien Tellier album, with his distinctive style, and his perspective of who I am. My favorite song on the album is a duet between us, because for me, it’s a bit like living out a Serge Gainsbourg/Brigitte Bardot fantasy."