Michel Amato’s contribution to electronic music can barely be overstated. As The Hacker, and under different aliases, he has inspired generations of dance music fans and artists. He continues to perform at the very top of his game, constantly evolving and challenging himself with boundary-pushing projects. Coming from the French city of Grenoble, Amato spent his younger years absorbing futuristic Techno sounds from Detroit, bands like Depeche Mode, New Order, Kraftwerk and Front 242, as well as Italo Disco and Acid House. Given the breadth of his influences, it’s no surprise Amato’s own discography defies simple definition, covering a wide range of styles in the years since his first release in 1996. Traversing zeitgeists, Amato had a Techno phase, dipped into EBM, sci-fi tinged Electro and New Wave, but is perhaps most famous as a founding father of Electroclash. Peaking at the turn of the millennium, Electroclash fused technoid rhythms with humorous punk and synth-pop sensibilities.
Amato met a kindred spirit in Miss Kittin and together they became of one the most iconic duos in electronic music. Her vocals proved the perfect match for his productions, lending them a certain accessibility and new found audience. Kittin’s deadpan delivery brought flair to Electroclash hits such as ‘Champagne’ (1998) and ‘Frank Sinatra’ (2000); DJ Hell released the tracks, as well as numerous other Hacker & Kittin productions, on his seminal International Deejay Gigolo imprint. Managing to incorporate elements of popular music without ever sacrificing their authenticity, Amato and Miss Kittin sold hundreds of thousands of records and gained worldwide recognition.
In 2004, Amato released his most well-received album to date, ‘Rêves Mécaniques’. Largely a solo record, it was a return to the more eerie and edgy, instrumental sound he had pursued in his early years. The album showed that, in the right hands, even this ice-cold, ravy, Acid sound was fit for the charts. The years since witnessed Amato put out a wide array of club mutations on many leading labels, including a double LP for his own label Zone.
The Korg MS 20, the TR 808 and the SH 101, without those, there’s no ‘The Hacker sound’ for sure.The Hacker
Today, he is as in-demand as ever. A highly-acclaimed album, ‘Le Théâtre Des Opérations’, on Dark Entries in 2017 recalled the tough sound of his early works but with more modern production and fresh ideas. The currently thriving, young Electro and EBM underground consider Amato as a master of his craft and many of his older tracks are becoming classics. He has drawn the attention from tastemakers like Helena Hauff, Erol Alkan and Veronica Vasicka for contributions to their labels, released a new collaboration with Miss Kittin and been commissioned to remix both Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode and DJ Hell.
In the live and DJ environment, Amato is as revered as he is on record. His set up has taken many forms over the years, largely centred around classic hardware such as the Korg MS 20, the Roland TR 808 and SH 101. His new live project (called ‘Amato’) is a 100% analog, return to his roots that has been presented at venues and festivals such as Dekmantel, Berghain, Nuits Sonores and Off Sonar.
It’s a testament to the consistently high quality of Amato’s work and his visionary nature that he remains such a well-respected pillar of electronic music, with his timeless musical innovations continuing to rock dance floors worldwide.